Holy Redeemer High School (Detroit)

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Holy Redeemer High School
Vernor-Junction Detroit Michigan 1.jpg
South side of Vernor at Junction, looking southwest
5668 Baker St.
Detroit, Michigan
Type Private, Coeducational
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic Church
Established 1882
Closed 2005
Grades 9-12
Color(s) Purple and Gold         
Athletics conference Detroit Catholic High School League
Nickname Lions

Holy Redeemer High School was a Roman Catholic secondary school located in Southwest Detroit, at the corner of Junction and Vernor streets, near the Ambassador Bridge to Canada. It was overseen by the Archdiocese of Detroit.

It was founded in 1882 and closed in 2005 after 123 years. The school was renamed Detroit Cristo Rey High School which opened in 2008. The adjoining Holy Redeemer Catholic Parish and Holy Redeemer grade school both remain in operation.

In 2002, the entire Parish grounds including the high school were recognized as part of the West Vernor-Junction Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its architecture and historic importance.[1]


Holy Redeemer High School was founded in 1882 by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) with the assistance of the Redemptorist Fathers (CSsR). The school was a founding member of the Archdiocese of Detroit Catholic League for Athletics. At its peak enrollment in 1972, Holy Redeemer's student population number was almost 1,000.

The enrollment was about 200 when the school closed. Prior to the closing, the Redemptorist Fathers who founded the parish and school left the parish in about 2000.

The IHM religious sisters closed their 4-story convent a few years later, due to declining numbers of religious members.

The Basilian Fathers administered Holy Redeemer High School for approximately five years until the time of its closing.

School closing[edit]

Photo of the last graduation ceremony for the high school to be held in the Most Holy Redeemer Church Sanctuary

In 1971, the Archdiocese of Detroit closed St. Gabriel's, All Saints, Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Vincent's high schools to make Holy Redeemer the regional Catholic high school for southwest Detroit, Ecorse and River Rouge.

Later, St. Andrew's (in 1983), St. Hedwig's (in 1990) and St. Alphonsus' (in 2003) closed, leaving Holy Redeemer the only Catholic high school on the southwest side of Detroit. The Archdiocese of Detroit, which once maintained over 100 high schools throughout the Metro Detroit Region, had just 24 remaining high schools.

At the time of the school's closing the population was approximately 70% Latino, 20% African-American and 10% Caucasian. The student population was approximately 80% Catholic, and the number of students going on to college was approximately 90% of the graduating class. The majority of students displaced from Holy Redeemer enrolled at St. Frances Cabrini High School in Allen Park, with other students enrolling in Western High School, Southwestern High School and Cesar Chavez High School.

A portion of the Holy Redeemer high school building is currently leased to the group Covenant House and is utilized to educate "at risk" children who have prior academic problems, family problems, etc. The older portion of the high school, attached to the gym, now houses the newest Catholic high school in Detroit, Detroit Cristo Rey High School, under the sponsorship of the Basilian Fathers and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM).


Main Trophy Case

Although a small school, Holy Redeemer excelled at several sports over the years including two state basketball championships (1960 and 1995),[2] a state championship runner in cross-country in 1928,[3] several state finalists for wrestling and numerous district, regional and league championships in all sports.

During the 1960s, the school became known as a basketball powerhouse with recognition by Parade magazine, The Detroit News, and the Detroit Free Press of several notable players such as Bill Chmielewski ('60), Dwight Jones ('65), Marty Sheedy ('68), and Tom Targosz ('69).

A coach who rose to national prominence was Bill McCartney, who served as an assistant football coach under his older brother Tom during the 1965 season, and as head basketball coach 1965-1969, taking the team to the Detroit City Championship during the 1968-1969 season. Bill McCartney went on to win the 1990 NCAA National Football Championship as head coach at Colorado University.

Dan Boisture ('43) was an All-State football and basketball player at Holy Redeemer.[4] He went on to become the head football coach at Eastern Michigan University, and then the head coach of the Detroit Wheels of the World Football League.

In popular culture[edit]

Rosary murders poster.jpg

The parish was the centerpiece of the 1987 movie The Rosary Murders, starring Charles Durning and Donald Sutherland, filmed on location at Holy Redeemer and the surrounding neighborhood.

Photo gallery[edit]

Cross-country team having just returned home after winning the Catholic High School League Cross-country Championship-the final championship in school history (October, 2004).
3rd Floor Classroom
2nd Floor Hallway
School Office
Gym Entrance
Gym Championship Banners
Redeemer High School after saying goodbye to its final graduating class

See also[edit]



Further reading[edit]

  • Godzak, Roman (2000). Archdiocese of Detroit (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-0797-0. 
  • Godzak, Roman (2004). Catholic Churches of Detroit (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-3235-5. 
  • Godzak, Roman (2000). Make Straight the Path: A 300 Year Pilgrimage Archdiocese of Detroit. Editions du Signe. ISBN 2-7468-0145-0. 
  • Tentler, Leslie Woodcock with forward by Edmund Cardinal Szoka (1992). Seasons of Grace: A History of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-2106-2. 
  • Tutag, Nola Huse with Lucy Hamilton (1988). Discovering Stained Glass in Detroit. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1875-4. 

External links[edit]

42°18′58″N 83°06′07″W / 42.316°N 83.102°W / 42.316; -83.102Coordinates: 42°18′58″N 83°06′07″W / 42.316°N 83.102°W / 42.316; -83.102