November 21, 2012
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Changing Lives Together pilgrims pray, reflect in visits to historic Detroit churches

Changing Lives Together Pilgrims

Changing Lives Together Pilgrims with Rev. Russ Kohler, pastor, and Archbishop Vigneron at historic Ste. Anne de Detroit church in Detroit.

More than 100 pilgrims recently participated in a day-long tour of historic Catholic sites in Detroit, the second such pilgrimage coordinated by the Changing Lives Together Prayer Committee. The November 3 tour departed from the National Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak, and included visits to Old St. Mary’s in Greektown, Sweetest Heart of Mary in Detroit, the Capuchin St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, and Ste. Anne de Detroit, where Archbishop Vigneron celebrated Mass.The pilgrims enjoyed a live concert by the Old St. Mary’s Choir, and Monsignor Patrick Halfpenny, Pastor of St. Paul on the Lake in Grosse Pointe Farms and archdiocesan history buff, joined the pilgrims at Old St. Mary’s and Sweetest Heart of Mary, providing them with background on the early days of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

“We really enjoyed the Pilgrimage,” said Dan Filipowicz, who joined the journey with his wife, Ericka, both parishioners at SS. Andrew and Benedict in Detroit. “It was very spiritual and the church buildings were beautiful, especially Sweetest Heart of Mary, which was breathtaking,” he added. “At every stop, the pastors did a nice job presenting the history of the church.”

Pilgrims Pray at the tomb of Solanus Casey

Pilgrims pray at the tomb of Venerable Solanus Casey at the Capuchin St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit

The pilgrims lunched at St. Bonaventure, where they were later treated to a special blessing with a relic of Father Solanus Casey. While there, many pilgrims participated in the Sacrament of Reconciliation with the Capuchin friars. The day closed with Mass celebrated by Archbishop Vigneron at St. Anne de Detroit. In his homily, the Archbishop preached about the gift of charity, noting the faithful are called to love, which is why and how God made mankind. “True happiness,” the Archbishop explained, “Is only possible through learning to love as God intends, and the only way we can truly love as we ought is by the power of Christ himself, which is why this pilgrimage is so rightly crowned with the celebration of the Eucharist,” he continued. “The Eucharist strengthens us and empowers us to love with all of our hearts, to live like saints, and thus to change lives together,” the Archbishop said.“It was a day of prayer and song, of learning about our Catholic roots, and of personal reflection,” said Ray Bauer, M.D., who helped organize the pilgrimage. “We prayed throughout the day for each other, for loved ones, for the Archdiocese of Detroit, and for the Changing Lives Together initiative,” he added. “The pilgrims felt deeply graced by the experience, particularly the opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence granted by Archbishop Vigneron.”

“It was a most spiritually rewarding experience,” said Regina Barcewicz of Troy, a parishioner at St. Anastasia in Troy. “I have been on many pilgrimages and found that this one of the most well-planned and carried out with regard to the spiritual needs and comfort of the pilgrims,” she added.

“It was extremely worthwhile,” said Tony Femminineo, who attended the pilgrimage with his wife, Kris, on their anniversary day. The couple, parishioners at St. Peter Parish in Mt. Clemens, presented the gifts to Archbishop Vigneron during Mass at Ste. Anne. “At first, we were mostly interested in the architecture of these churches, but along the way we began to feel the real spirit of the occasion, the beauty of the churches and our faith,” he continued. “We realized the Catholic scene in Detroit is coming alive again, and we’re going to visit these parishes more often. I hope they do this pilgrimage more than once a year,” Femminineo added. “It’s the perfect amount of time, the right number of stops, and really helped to awaken our faith.”

Organizers are considering a third pilgrimage in 2013.

Updated November 2012


Changing Lives Together is a series of parish campaigns to generate resources to fulfill parish-developed plans and priorities. Learn more about the initiative in your parish.

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