Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish (Wyandotte, Michigan)

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish (Wyandotte, Michigan)
Our Lady Of Mount Carmel
Coordinates: 42°12′22.4″N 83°09′53.7″W / 42.206222°N 83.164917°W / 42.206222; -83.164917
Location Wyandotte, Michigan
Country USA
Denomination Roman Catholic
Website Parish website
Founded 1899 (1899)
Founder(s) Polish immigrants
Dedication Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Dedicated December 3, 1899 (1899-12-03)
Functional status Active
Heritage designation Polish
Architect(s) Harry Rill
Architectural type Church
Completed 1915 (1915)
Capacity ~ 900
Archdiocese Detroit
Archbishop Allen Henry Vigneron
Bishop(s) Francis Ronald Reiss
Priest(s) Msgr. Michael Dylag and Fr. Stanislaus Flis
Deacon Rev. Mr. Richard Bloomfield
Pastor(s) Fr. Walter J. Ptak
Director of music Dr. David Saunders
Organist(s) Dr. David Saunders and Miss. Sipkje Pesnichak

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish (Polish: Parafia Matki Bożej Szkaplerznej) is a Roman Catholic parish located in Wyandotte, Michigan, Wayne County, United States.



A group of Polish immigrants settled on the shores of the Detroit River. The settlement grew in abundance over a few years and they saw the need for a church. With all efforts of these Poles it grew to be a great landmark in the City of Wyandotte. They organized into groups of Ushers, Altar and Rosary societies, Felician Sisters Auxiliary, Zwianzek Polek, Holy Name and Orchard Lake societies. All laboring for the betterment of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. An Elementary and a High School were constructed for the youth of the parish. Other groups such as The Oak Club and the Polish Roman Catholic Union (PRCU) had contributed tremendous funds to help the athletic programs for the great schools of the Parish. Today the parishioners and students of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel continue to take pride in his great community of spiritual and physical growth.[1]

Early history

In 1818, the first immigrants of different origins came to the downriver area and established a settlement. Wyandotte grew and prospered as numerous settlers made it their home. Anthony Zenger was the first Pole to settle in Wyandotte in 1866. He found work in one of the factories downtown. Two years later more Poles settled in the downriver area. The Beginnings of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish lingered in a group called the Society of St. Stanslaus Kostka. In 1870, Mr. A. Lesczynski founded a group and membership reached 37 members. In 1875, hard times hit the laboring classes in Wyandotte. Many Poles were forced to leave thus the society did not survive. However in 1888, Mr. F. Michalak revived the Society and the Poles attended mass and devotions at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church or at the German parish, St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church. Once each month, a Polish priest administered to their spiritual needs. In the ten years, Wyandotte increased in population including a marked number of Poles. At first they affiliated themselves with St. Patrick's Church. Even at this time Poles began to plan the building of a church in which they could be instructed in and ministered to in their native tongue. A committee of Mr. F. Gutowski, Mr. M. Grabarkiewicz, Mr. T. Binairz, Mr. M. Sowinski, Mr. F. Lybik, Mr. M. Ignasiak and Mr. M. Dolinski began to formulate the parish. Securing lots on Tenth Street from the Welch Brothers Company, the Committee proceeded to gain the approval from Bishop John Y. Foley. With the Bishop's approval, the appointment of Father Bernard Zmijewski as the first pastor of Mt. Carmel was made. Until the church was built, Father Zmijewski held services at St. Patrick's.[2]

Beginning of the 20th century

On December 3, 1899, the cornerstone of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church was laid and the formal dedication of the completed structure was on July 8, 1900. The church also served as a school for the growing number of students of Polish descent. Classrooms were furnished in the basement and in 1901 the Felician Sisters began teaching the first and second grades. The cost of the church building and the school in 1899 was $26,961.15. Father Zmijewski built the rectory with his personal funds and founded a library of over 500 volumes of Polish and English Masters. The parish pushed ahead until February 1906 when a disagreement arose between the church committee and the Pastor. Bishop Foley intervened and closed the church from February 18, 1906 to March 19, 1906. On April 27, Reverend Joseph Lempka became the second pastor of Mt. Carmel and remained there until 1909. Seeing the need to enlarge the parish grounds, Father Constatine Dziuk, third pastor, bought all the adjacent vacant property in 1909. Father Dziuk remained at Mt. Carmel for two years. He was succeeded by Reverend Alexander Grudzinski. During Father Grudzinski's pastorate, both the current church and the Sister's convent were built, as well as the purchase of a new church organ. The present church, erected in 1915, is a prime example of the so-called 'Polish Cathedral style' of churches in both its opulence and grand scale. After Father Grudzinski was transferred, Reverend Adalbert Zadala came to Mt. Carmel, but remained only 18 months. He was succeeded by Reverend Maximilian Gannas whose pastorate lasted only six months. Father Gannas is credited with making innovations in the Sister's convent and organizing a boy scout troup in the parish. [3]

1920s - 1940s

In 1920, Reverend Leon Jarecki assumed the leadership of Mt. Carmel Parish. But tragedy struck on April 1, 1921 when he was shot by an unknown assailant. Father Jarecki purchased the three bells now in use. They were named St. Stanislaus Kostka, The Holy Angels, and Our Lady Queen of Poland. Reverend Peter Kruszka, eighth pastor of Mt. Carmel, came in 1921. He remained for 17 years. Father Kruszka built an addition to the elementary school, installed a heating plant, enlarged the Sister's convent, and opened a complete high school in 1928. Due to failing health, in 1938 Father Kruszak left Mt. Carmel to rest, but her never regained his health and died in the spring of 1939. An administrator, Reverend Boleslaus Parzych was appointed in June 1938. In the course of Father Parzych's stay the interior and exterior of the old school building was painted, the church roof was repainted, and the rate of interest of the parish was reduced.

On June 10, 1939, Reverend Ladislaus A. Krych was appointed pastor of Mt. Carmel by Cardinal Edward Mooney. Soon after charge Father Krych began the work of building and remodeling the physical and spiritual appearance of Mt. Carmel. The church building received immediate attention. The crumbling masonry was covered with lead and the church windows were reinstalled and properly encased. New ventilation had to be furnished and the whole church was rewired and re-equipped with a modern lighting system. The church organ was repaired and reconstructed. In January 1942, the interior of the church was cleaned and repainted at the cost of $9000. With the church's new look came the need for new furnishings. [4]

50 Years

The Third Order of St. Francis, the Polish Alliance bought a new communion rail; benefactors and patrons purchased the high altar and the Altar Society bought the Tabernacle and the flower vases. Generous individual parishioners donated the monstrance, vestments, a pulpit, confessionals, and altar clothes. The altar boys worked to buy a shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In 1943 and 1944 improvements were made to the Sister's convent, the school buildings and the church. The exterior of the church was washed and repaired and the brick was painted in 1945. The parish debt of $5,000 was entirely liquidated on January 15, 1946. The first time in many years the church had no creditors. Improvements such as a new roof for the school buildings, a new steam boiler, an automatic system of bell ringing and amplifiers for the church were added during 1947. The parish purchased a strip of real estate bordering Electric Street in 1948. Electric Street was closed and the land would be used for parish expansion.

In 1949, Mt. Carmel celebrated its golden anniversary. For this sublime occasion the church was washed and refurnished at the cost of $5,180. The interior of the school was also repainted. After the 50th anniversary celebration, work continued on parish improvements. The asphalt pavement was completed between the church and the school in 1950. With the winning of the Catholic and Parochial City Championships in football in 1951, the members of the parish built a field house for the athletes. A combination fieldhouse, consisting of a locker room, two dressing rooms, an equipment room, a utility room, and toilet facilities were built. The construction of a new gym was also completed. The cornerstone of the new rectory was blessed on August 24, 1951 by Father Krych.

With the renovation of the church in 1951, an appeal was made by Father Krych for new pews. Individual parishioners purchased pews and memorial plates were placed on each one. The new pews were ordered in July 1953 and were installed in September 1953. Father Krych is also credited for starting a school band and from his personal funds purchased the first band uniforms. On March 17, 1956, Father Krych succumbed to heart disease. Respected by the whole community, Father Krych was mourned by thousands. He gave 17 years of unrelenting effort to leave the parish in a debt free status. Father Jerome Juchniewicz took over the reins of Mt. Carmel in June, 1956. [5]

Since Vatican Council II

Along with continuing the dream of building a new elementary school, Father Juchniewicz remodeled the tarnished statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in 1960. He removed it from the center window of the front of the church and placed it on the side of the church. In addition to discharging his duties as pastor, Father Juchniewicz served as Chaplain of the Polish National Advocate and the Medical Dental Arts Association. On September 13, 1963 Father Juchniewicz suffered a fatal heart attack at Wyandotte General Hospital. Father Venanty Szymanski became the new Pastor of Mt. Carmel by appointment of the Chancery in September 1963. Father Szymanski began full force in building the new elementary school. On October 30, 1966 the cornerstone of the new elementary school was blessed. Through the efforts of pastor's, Father Ladislaus Krych, Father Jerome Juchniewicz, and Father Venanty Szymanski the parish can boast of a beautiful grade school. In 1963 a financial crisis faced the Archdiocese of Detroit. Consolidation of high schools seemed to be the answer to many parishes' financial difficulties. Mt. Carmel was advised to join with St. Joseph's, St. Patrick's, St. Helen's, St. Stanislaus' and St. Elizabeth's on the building of a central high school. A public meeting of the parish was held and the parishioners decided to keep Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School operating and not join the consolidation. Throughout the years the parishioners labored to keep Mt. Carmel a prosperous school. In early 1967 Father Szymanski suffered a stroke and began the long process of rehabilitation. When Father Szymanski was on the road to recovery he suffered another stroke on May 6, 1967. Recovery was a tedious job. Throughout his rehabilitation the parish continued to operate through the endeavors of his assistant, Father Stanley Redwick. Father Szymanski retired from the pastorate of Mt. Carmel in May 1972. The parish was then under the administration of Father Stanley Konopka until August 1972 when Father Stanley Redwick, former assistant assumed the duties of Mt. Carmel's new Pastor.

Father Redwick saw the need for many renovations in the school and in the parish. He began by remodeling the kitchen into a modern well equipped facility. The rooms cannot only be used for meals but the adjoining room could be used by the various organizations for monthly meetings. With the 75th Diamond Jubilee Father Redwick initiated plans to repaint and repair the inside and outside of the church. A parish festival was planned for August 1973 (which has continued annually to this day). The first festival profit of $85,000 was the result of the hard work of Father Redwick and the countless hundreds of parishioners who worked to make the event a success. Work on the church began in April 1974. In addition to repainting the inside of the church, the roof needed various repairs. The stained glass windows were reset along with various other remodeling. In the early 1990s, Father Redwick abdicated the position as pastor due to his failing health and Father Walter J. Ptak became the new Pastor.

A monument to Pope John Paul II was dedicated by Cardinal Adam Maida in a peace garden in front of the church on October 31, 2004. It was sculpted by Professor Czesław Dźwigaj, well known for also casting the monument of Christ the King in Cicero in front of the church of St. Mary of Częstochowa as well as the Tolerance Monument that was recently unveiled in Jerusalem.

Mt. Carmel Catholic Cemetery, also located in Wyandotte, is owned by the Archdiocese of Detroit and is not connected to the parish, although they share the same name. It was founded in 1865 and is currently administered by St. Elizabeth Parish, Wyandotte. It is the final resting place of many Wyandotte citizens from various parishes, including Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.



The Annual May Procession

The May Procession is held in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary is an annual observance at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The grade school students, ushers, the men's and the ladies organizations process outside, around Superior Boulevard, into the church to Mary's altar where she is crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. Beautiful hydrangea plants and bouquets of roses are placed around the Blessed Mother's altar to display the beauty and love for her. The service includes a living rosary said one by one from the 7th and 8th Grade class and concludes with an exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Forty Hours Devotion

In the observance of Forty Hours Devotion, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for Forty Hours in the sanctuary for forty hours beginning at the High Noon Mass. Various societies of the church conduct services including: litanies, rosaries, and hymnal singing to honor Jesus during the duritation. Ceremonies closing the devotions include litanies to the saints, the Divine Praises, and Benediction.


The Rosary Society

The Mt. Carmel Rosary Society was organized on October 12, 1888 at St. Patrick's Parish, Wyandotte, Michigan. In 1890, when the new church was built it was transferred and reorganized by Father Zmijewski. The officers were President, Mrs. B. Domagalewska, Secretary, Mrs. M. Kowalewska, and Treasurer, Mrs. M. Kasprzyk. the Rosary Society was established to honor and spread devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary by reciting the rosary.

The Holy Name Society

The Holy Name Society was organized to promote the spiritual welfare of the men of the parish by encouraging and assisting them to participate the Confraternity of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. The Confraternity promotes the frequent reception of the Sacraments, the honoring of the Most Holy Name of Jesus by active religious life and the working against all things which offend the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

The Altar Society

On December 12, 1939, the Altar Society was organized under the direction of Father Ladislaus Krych. The society is in complete care of the altars, this includes providing linens, flowers at Christmas and Easter and other special occasions, candles and caring of the church laundry. Some of the member are assigned into groups and clean the Sanctuary and the Sacristy. The Patroness of the Altar Society is Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

The Felician Sisters Auxiliary

When the Mt. Carmel Parish acquired the teaching assistance of the Felician Sisters the ladies of the parish organized to aid the Felician Sisters Convent in Livonia. In 1939, under the leadership of Mrs. Veronica Michalak, Mrs. R. Wotta, Mrs. W. Patalon, Mrs. M. Kowalowska, and Mrs. R. Chojonowska, the Felician Sister's Auxiliary had its beginnings.

The Ushers Club

The Mt. Carmel Ushers Club was organized in 1939. For the past 65 years these men have assisted the pastors in the general maintenance of the parish property. They keep order in the church and take up the Sunday and Feast Day offerings at Mass. In order to perform their duties more effectively the Ushers have an official blazer to be worn at all church functions. Parishioners can easily recognize the navy blue blazer, white shirt, and grey slcks when assistance is needed in the church.

See also

External links

Preceded by
Father Walter J. Ptak
Pastors of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Succeeded by

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