Our Lady of the Scapular Parish

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Our Lady of The Scapular
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church Wyandotte Michigan.JPG
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church
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 United States
Denomination Roman Catholic
Website Parish website
Founded 2013 (2013)
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) Mr. Harry Rill
Architectural type Church
Style Italian Renaissance
Completed 1916 (1916)
Capacity ~ 900
Archdiocese Detroit
Archbishop Allen Henry Vigneron
Priest(s) Canon Walter Ptak
Fr. Dariusz Strzalkowski
Fr. George Kowalski
Pastor(s) Fr. Mark A. Borkowski
Deacon(s) Rev. Mr. Richard Bloomfield
Director of music Mr. David Carle
Organist(s) Mr. David Carle
Mr. Vladimir Vaculik

Our Lady of the Scapular Parish (Polish: Parafia Matki Bożej Szkaplerznej) (formerly Our Lady of Mount Carmel) is a canonically established Roman Catholic National (Personal) Polish parish that accommodates all backgrounds, particularly to aid and minister to Polish immigrants, and those of Polish descent. Our Lady of the Scapular Parish is the merged parish which comprises the former parishes of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Stanisluas Kostka. It is located in Wyandotte, Michigan, Wayne County, United States


The high altar, illumined by many candles for a Rorate Mass.

The history of the oldest Polish parish and neighborhood in the City of Wyandotte, Michigan, under the patronage of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is connected with the first settlement of Poles in the area. It is just and proper to introduce the history with a few words about these pioneers of the City of Wyandotte. [1]

Origin of the Polish Settlement[edit]

The City of Wyandotte is situated along the Detroit River and the old Michigan Central Railroad. Wyandotte is located about 15 miles to the south of Detroit. At the 1940 census, the population of the City was approximately 35,000 people. Of this total there were over 9,000 Poles grouped within the limits of: Our Lady of Mount Carmel (1899-2013), St. Stanislaus Kostka (1914-2013), and St. Helena (1927-2007) [the three Polish parishes at that time.]

The Society of St. Stanislaus Kostka[edit]

The Polish settlement began with Anthony Zynger, the first Pole to come to Wyandotte. His coming to this particular region was purely accidental since he had no reason. After the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, he emigrated to the United States and eventually coming to Wyandotte where he found employment in one of the many factories.

Anthony Zynger was not alone for very long. In 1868, he was joined by Anthony Lesczynski. Lesczynski was initially employed in various capacities. In the course of time he opened a grocery store at the intersection of Oak and Fourth Streets. On November 22, 1870, a mission was preached there by Rev. Fr. Xavier Szulak, S.J., and it was during this mission that Anthony Lesczynski founded the Society of St. Stanislaus Kostka. By this time, there were several Polish families in Wyandotte and membership soon reached 37 members. In 1872, during the dedication of the Parish of St. Albertus in Detroit, this Polish society was officially represented by Anthony Zynger and Anthony Lesczynski.

In 1875, hard times really struck the laboring classes of Wyandotte. Living conditions soon became intolerable, indeed, so that during an 1876 depression many of the first Polish families were forced to leave and, lured by sundry real estate agents, moved to Arkansas and other western states. This depression, however, turned out to be only temporary, for in the next two years, 1877–78, things began to look brighter. Consequently, many new Polish families began to arrive, planning to settle down permanently. However, these new arrivals found security there only for a short time. Living conditions again became very bad and many of these new families soon left for the neighboring City of Ecorse and to Detroit. Owing to this forced emigration, the St. Stanislaus Kostka Society could not survive any longer and dissolved for sheer lack of membership.

Somewhat later, in 1888, when more members could be counted upon, the society was revived by Francis Michalak who was elected as President by the 47 new members enrolled. The Board of Directors consisted of: Francis Michalak, President; Joseph Kasprzyk, Vice-President; Stephan Zalewski, Secretary; M. Ozowski, Cashier; and Martin Grabarkiewicz, Cashier Protector. The small group of Poles attended Mass regularly at the Irish parish of St. Patrick’s, Wyandotte, or at the German parish of St. Joseph’s, Wyandotte. Once each month, a Polish priest administered to their spiritual needs. This was rendered very often by Rev. Fr. Vitold Buchaczkowski from SS. Cyril and Methodius Polish Seminary formerly of Detroit, now located in Orchard Lake, Michigan. A special feature of this service was an annual indulgence imparted to them on Easter Sunday and on the feast day of St. Stanislaus Kostka.

The years 1888 to 1898 marked a positive turning point for the Polish settlement. During this span, 150 Polish families immigrated to Wyandotte. At first, they affiliated themselves with St. Joseph Parish, but because they were discriminated against they later transferred to St. Patrick Parish where Fr. Lezer, a Frenchman, was pastor.

Although only partially organized, the Poles began to plan the building of a church in which they could understand and be ministered to in the Polish language. A committee was organized by the Society to make the initial steps toward organizing a new parish and push the matter to its desirable conclusion with the approval by the Bishop of Detroit. They consisted of: Martin Grabarkiewicz, Thomas Biniasz, Michael Sawinski, Frank Lybik, Martin Ignasiak, and Michael Dolinski. [2]

Beginning of the 20th century[edit]

The first business transaction of the building committee concerned the purchase of several lots on Tenth Street from the Welch Brother’s Realty Company. This deal was finally concluded to the complete satisfaction and delight of the committee, for the Welch Brother’s Company most generously donated eight of their lots for the building of the proposed parish church and school. On September 8, 1899, the Most Rev. Bishop John Samuel Foley personally inspected the donated grounds. Not only did he approve the location but appointed almost immediately the Rev. Fr. Bernard Zmijewski of Bronson, Michigan, as first pastor. Accordingly, Fr. Zmijewski took charge of his flock on September 18, 1899, but, since the church building was still in the planning stage, he was constrained to hold services for a time at St. Patrick’s.

The original parishioners desired the name of the new parish to be under the patronage of Our Lady of the Scapular, however, Bishop

Foley at the time did not recognize this patronage. In effect, since the beginning, the parishioners had always referred to parish with the Polish "Szkaplerznej" or, "Scapular." The laying of the cornerstone of a combination of building a school and church under the patronage of Our Lady of Mount Carmel took place on December 3, 1899, and the formal dedication of the completed structure was held on July 8, 1900. Rev. Fr. John Moneta, a professor from SS. Cyril and Methodius Polish Seminary in Detroit preached the homily. Much was added to the solemnity of the dedication rites by the Choir of St. Josaphat's Church from Detroit. So impressive was the music and singing under the able direction of Zygmunt Kadlubowski that favorable comments could be heard many years later.

The church also served as an elementary school for the growing number of students. Fr. Zmijewski petitioned the Felician Sisters' Mother Provincial in Detroit, Mother Cajetan (one of the original five Felician Sisters' who came to America), an earnest appeal for the sisters to take charge of this school. The request was granted and in September, 1901, the Felician Sisters' opened two classrooms in the basement to teach the first and second grades. The following year, 113 boys and girls were enrolled in the school. The grand total for building costs of the church building and the school and equipment totaled $26, 961.15. To cover the very considerable cost, money was obtained from various sources: $7,063.69 from outright donations; a bank loan of $15,000 was negotiated; and $5,000 was borrowed from the pastor. At about this time, Fr. Zmijewski also built a rectory on Tenth Street with his personal funds, and founded a library of some 500 volumes of Polish and English masters. He was chiefly instrumental in incorporating the locality where the church was built into the City of Wyandotte. Before the incorporation, the subdivision was commonly called "New Jerusalem" and later Glenwood.

The new parish pushed steadily ahead and even gained momentum in its progress. Only six years after the dedication of the parish, disagreement and misunderstanding reared its ugly head at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The relationship between the pastor and the church committee became strained, going from bad to worse, until the whole matter became grave enough to be brought to the attention of Bishop of Detroit. Bishop Foley had no choice but to proclaim a cooling off period to dispel the heat caused by friction. Accordingly, Bishop Foley ordered the parish closed for a brief time and this was done from February 18 to March 19, 1906. On March 19, Rev. Fr. Frank Sajecki, Vicar of St. Alberuts Parish in Detroit was sent as an administrator, but ill health forced him to leave after one week. He died a week later at age 33. Fr. Sajecki was immediately succeeded by Rev. Fr. Maruszczyk, who administered the parish until the appointment on April 26, 1906, of the second pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Rev. Fr. Joseph Lempka, who was a Vicar at St. Albertus, took charge of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on April 27, 1906. His pastorate of three years was almost entirely taken up with the perpetual struggles with the parish debt. It was during his pastorate that a new rectory was built at a cost of $5,000 because the existing rectory was the property of Fr. Zmijewski. The former rectory on Tenth Street had been left empty and eventually became an infirmary for those Felician Sisters' who had been stricken from the then-current tuberculous epidemic. Fr. Lempka and the Sisters were charged with their care. When they died, they were buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Wyandotte. Of the twenty sisters' who are buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery, they were only 20 to 21 years old. In 1909, Rev. Fr. Constantine Dziuk was installed as the third pastor. Fr. Dziuk soon perceived the necessity and advantage of enlarging the parish grounds, and, consequently, he bought up all the adjacent vacant property. By this move he really placed a definite stamp on the parish holdings.

In July 1911, Fr. Dziuk was transferred to Detroit to organize the new Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish. He was succeeded by Rev. Fr. Alexander Grudzinski. Fr. Grudzinki’s seven-year pastorate was a period of positive growth spiritually and materially in the parish. The present Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church building was erected; the Felician Sisters’ convent was built; and a new church organ was purchased. As the number of pupils continued to grow, additional classrooms were provided. The original building was turned over for the use of the Sisters' for the school.

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. In 1918, Fr. Grudzinki was transferred to St. Francis Xavier Parish in Detroit, and the Rev. Msgr. Adalbert Zadala succeeded as the fifth pastor. He stayed only a short time of about a year and a half as he was then transferred to the new Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Detroit as its second pastor. Short also was the sojourn of Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s sixth pastor, Rev. Fr. Maximilian Gannas. Yet he managed to make practical and timely innovations in the Felician Sisters’ convent and organized a Boy Scout group in the parish.

1920s - 1940s[edit]

In 1920, Rev. Fr. Leon Jarecki assumed the leadership of Mt. Carmel Parish. Tragedy struck on April 7, 1921 when he was shot by an unknown assailant upon answering the door of the rectory. Fr. Jarecki purchased the three bells now in use. They were christened: St. Stanislaus Kostka, The Holy Angels, and Our Lady Queen of Poland. Rev. Fr. Peter Kruszka, eighth pastor of Mt. Carmel, came in 1921. He remained for 17 years. Fr. 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 Kruszka went on sabbatical to rest, but her never regained his health and died in the spring of 1939. An administrator, Rev. Fr. Boleslaus Parzych was appointed in June 1938. In the course of Fr. Parzych's stay, the interior and exterior of the old school building was painted, the church roof was repainted, and the interest rate of the parish was reduced.

On June 10, 1939, Rev. Fr. Ladislaus A. Krych was appointed pastor of Mt. Carmel by Cardinal Edward Mooney. When Fr. Krych succeeded Fr. Kruszka, there were 520 pupils in attendance at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Elementary School. One of the first of the many accomplishments of Fr. Krych was the organization of the school band and orchestra, supplying it with the necessary instruments. A kindergarten opened in 1941 completed the school setup of the parish. The elementary school enrollment for the 1948-49 school year was 737 pupils. Fr. Krych began the work of the church building and remodeling the physical and spiritual appearance of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The church building received immediate attention. The crumbling masonry was covered with lead and the church windows were re-installed 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.[3]

The Third Order of St. Francis, the Polish Alliance bought a new communion rail; benefactors and patrons purchased the current 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, Our Lady of 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 field house, 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. Rev. Fr Jerome Juchniewicz took over the reins of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in June, 1956. [4]

Along with continuing Fr. Krych's dream of building a new elementary school, Fr. Juchniewicz remodeled the tarnished statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in 1960. He removed it from the center of the front of the church and placed it on the side of the church. In addition to discharging his duties as pastor, Fr. 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. Rev. Fr. Venanty Szymanski became the new Pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel by appointment of the Chancery in September 1963. Fr. Szymanski began full force in building the a new elementary school building. On October 30, 1966 the cornerstone of the new elementary school was blessed. Through the efforts of pastor's, Fr. Ladislaus Krych, Fr. Jerome Juchniewicz, and Fr. Venanty Szymanski the parish had boasted of a beautiful elementary 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. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was advised to join St. Joseph's, St. Patrick's, St. Helen's, St. Stanislaus' and St. Elizabeth's on building 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 Our Lady of Mt. Carmel a prosperous school. In early 1967, Fr. Szymanski suffered a stroke and began the long process of rehabilitation. While Fr. 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, Rev. Fr. Stanley Redwick. Fr. Szymanski resigned from the pastorate of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in May 1972. The parish was then under the administration of Rev. Fr. Stanley Konopka until August 1972 when Fr. Stanley Redwick, former assistant assumed the duties of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel's new Pastor.

Since the Second Vatican Council[edit]

Monument to Pope John Paul II

Fr. Redwick saw a need for renovations in the schools 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 meetings. With the 75th Diamond Jubilee, Fr. Redwick initiated plans to repaint and repair the inside and outside of the church building. The beginning of the parish summer festival was planned for the weekend before Labor Day in 1972 and has continued annually. The first festival profit of $85,000 was the result of the hard work of Fr. 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, Fr. Redwick resigned the pastorate due to his failing health and Rev. Canon 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 (established 1865), also located in Wyandotte, is owned and administered by the Archdiocese of Detroit. It has never been connected to the parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, although sharing the same name. It was previously administered by St. Joseph's, Wyandotte, then later, St. Elizabeth's, Wyandotte (until its closure in June 2012). It is the final resting place of many Wyandotte citizens from various parishes, including Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.


Liturgical Celebrations[edit]

The Annual May Procession[edit]

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[edit]

In the observance of the annual Forty Hours' Devotion, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for forty hours in the sanctuary beginning the Friday before Laetare Sunday. Various services held during the forty hours include private adoration, rosaries, personal devotions, and confession, all before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar. The Sunday noon High Mass is followed in the evening by the closing ceremony, which includes a sermon, several hymns and prayers, a procession, and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.


The Rosary Society[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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 slacks when assistance is needed in the church.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]