November 12, 2012
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Remodeled parish center at St. Roch accommodates growing ministries

Archbishop Vigneron, Fr. Hartmann and Lynn Ferguson

Archbishop Vigneron chats at a campaign event with Father Richard Hartmann and Lynn Ferguson, chair of the Changing Lives Together initiative at St. Roch.

It was more than 50 years before they could build a permanent worship space, but it took just a few months for parishioners at St. Roch in Flat Rock to create badly needed religious education classrooms and office space. The new facilities are now experiencing heavy use and the parish Changing Lives Together campaign made the difference.

St. Roch was founded in 1954 with parishioners celebrating Mass in a building originally constructed as a school. Assigned as pastor to St. Roch 11 years ago, Rev. Richard Hartmann said the first thing he heard from parishioners was their desire to build a new, permanent church. “We got organized, raised $2.6 million, and dedicated our new church in 2007”, said Father Hartmann. Soon after, St. Roch parishioners decided they needed to repurpose their old church to accommodate a growing religious education program and parish offices.

St. Roch Sign

Changing Lives Together enabled St. Roch to complete a long-awaited remodeling project.

“We raised more than $350,000 through monthly envelopes and two former parishioners made legacy gifts that put a total of $700,000 in our remodeling fund,” said Father Hartmann. Then the opportunity came to be among the first parishes involved in Changing Lives Together. “We jumped at the chance to start our campaign right away,” recalled Father Hartmann.

Changing Lives Together efforts at St. Roch in early 2011 enabled the parish to raise the remaining amount needed for their remodeling well ahead of schedule. “We had phenomenal participation – nearly $363,000 from 500 households,” said Father Hartmann. “That was enough for us to complete the remodeling project with some funds set aside for emergency needs when they arise,” he said. “Changing Lives Together came along at just the right time for us,” he added. “If we had started this project too soon, or if we went over budget, we would have depleted our funds. This worked out just beautifully.”

St. Roch Blessing

Father Richard Hartmann blesses the newly remodeled parish center at its dedication in September 2011.

The new facility was dedicated in September 2011 and is accommodating more than 400 children now enrolled in the St. Roch religious education program, as well as 55 faculty and staff members. Beyond being used for multiple religious study programs, the new classrooms also host the parish council and finance council meetings, various parish commission gatherings, adult formation classes, scripture studies, and serve as a regional location for archdiocesan enrichment and training programs such as the “Protecting God’s Children” program.

“We’re using our new space for sacramental programs like parental retreats and just started a young adult faith formation program,” said Father Hartmann. “We conduct our RCIA and marriage preparation classes there, which is nice because when weddings occur, the rooms are used by bridal parties,” he continued. “We also conduct baptism preparation classes in our new classrooms, so St. Roch will have a special place in the spiritual lives of many Catholics in the Flat Rock area for years to come.” More than 20 area residents are now enrolled in RCIA preparation at St. Roch, which also added a vacation bible school, a music library and a religious education library this year.

St. Roch Kids

More than 400 children at St. Roch are now enrolled in religious education programs.

“We now have nine new classrooms and five new offices. This was a high priority for our parishioners, and they did this for the greater glory of God,” observed Father Hartmann. “We conduct a town hall meeting every few years to decide on the mission and vision of the parish. We feel good about doing the right things for our parish community and staying on the right track.”

St. Roch is a tithing parish with two percent of the weekly offertory committed to ministries providing programs and services beyond those offered by the parish. These organizations include the Catholic Worker Day House in Detroit, the All Saints Parish Soup Kitchen in Detroit, the Penrickton Center for Blind Children in Taylor, Manna Community Meal in Detroit, the PIME Missionaries and several more. “We don’t ask parishioners to tithe a certain amount or percentage, rather, we ask them to give what they can in time, talent , or treasure to support the parish and those doing God’s work in southeast Michigan,” said Father Hartmann. “As a parish community, we feel blessed by what God has given us, including new facilities, no debt, and the ability to give to others.”

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.