St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, Detroit

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St. Joseph Oratory
Saint Joseph Catholic Church (Detroit, MI) - exterior, quarter view.jpg
Location 1828 Jay Street
Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates 42°20′43″N 83°2′8″W / 42.34528°N 83.03556°W / 42.34528; -83.03556Coordinates: 42°20′43″N 83°2′8″W / 42.34528°N 83.03556°W / 42.34528; -83.03556
Built 1870-1873
Architect Francis G. Himpler; Donaldson and Meier
Architectural style Late Gothic Revival; German Hall Church
NRHP Reference # 72000670, 91002013[1]
Added to NRHP December 08, 1972, January 28, 1992

St. Joseph Oratory, founded in 1855, is a historic German Catholic church located at 1828 Jay Street in the Eastern MarketLafayette Park neighborhood area just outside downtown Detroit, on the city's central east side. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and deemed "of national importance" because of its stained glass.[2] Formerly a parish church of the Archdiocese of Detroit, it is presently an oratory dedicated to the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (the Tridentine Mass) under the care of the canons of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.


The rear of the church nave.
Wallerfangen, Church St. Katharina

The Gothic structure of the church, inspired by Himpler´s church St. Katharina (1860-1863) in Wallerfangen (Saarland), had its cornerstone laid in 1870 and was dedicated in 1873, making it one of the oldest extant churches in Detroit. Francis G. Himpler, a Ottweiler (Germany)-born New York architect, designed the building which is considered one of the Midwest's best examples of Victorian Gothic architecture, especially so because the structure is effectively unaltered. The building is distinguished by its stained glass, notable in its intricate designs and wide usage. Also of note is the woodwork, statuary, and original high altar in the interior. St. Joseph Church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972; the buildings in the surrounding complex were added in 1992.

Traditional worship[edit]

The high altar and tabernacle in St. Joseph Church.

In its time as a parish church, St. Joseph continued traditional worship throughout its history, maintaining the Latin language, alongside vernacular German and English, in its Novus Ordo Masses after the Second Vatican Council. Many Masses were celebrated ad orientem, with a free-standing altar available for priests who preferred it. In Fall 2007, after a 37-year absence, the parish reinstated the Latin Tridentine Mass, which was widely replaced when Pope Paul VI promulgated the Novus Ordo Mass in 1969.

The parish is known for its musical heritage, offering orchestral Masses composed by the likes of Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, and lesser known composers on certain Sundays and Holy Days, and maintaining traditional choir and organ music.[citation needed] The St. Joseph tracker organ is a powerful instrument in a fine acoustical space. Originally built by J. H. & C. S. Odell for the present Church structure in 1873, the organ was greatly altered about 1910 and again in the early 1940s. Having declined into unplayability, it was replaced for the celebration of the church building's centennial in 1973 by the organ builder William M. Worden, using many of the Odell pipes. It currently contains twenty-nine stops. For greater general participation during the Latin Mass, St. Joseph Parish is one of the very few parishes probably in the entire United States to have available for use, even by the entire congregation, the Gregorian Missal published by the monks of Solesmes.

Current status[edit]

On June 19, 2013, by a decree from his excellency Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, the clustered parishes of St. Joseph, Sweetest Heart of Mary and St. Josaphat were merged to create the new Mother of Divine Mercy Parish.[3]

On August 29, 2016, Archbishop Vigneron announced that effective October 2016, St. Joseph Church would be separated from Mother of Divine Mercy Parish to become St. Joseph Oratory under the care of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and would be dedicated to the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass.[4] The first Mass under the watch of the canons of the Institute was celebrated on October 16, 2016. The Reverend Canon Michael Stein currently serves as rector of the oratory.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. 
  3. ^ "Parish Website". 2013-06-19. Retrieved 2013-12-27. 
  4. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Godzak, Roman (2000). Archdiocese of Detroit (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0738507970. 
  • Godzak, Roman (2004). Catholic Churches of Detroit (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0738532355. 
  • Godzak, Roman (2000). Make Straight the Path: A 300 Year Pilgrimage Archdiocese of Detroit. Editions du Signe. ISBN 2746801450. 
  • Muller, Herman Joseph (1976). The University of Detroit 1877-1977: A Centennial History. University of Detroit. ASIN B0006CVJ4S. 
  • Tentler, Leslie Woodcock with foreword by Cardinal Edmund Szoka (1992). Seasons of Grace: A History of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0814321062. 
  • Tutag, Nola Huse with Lucy Hamilton (1988). Discovering Stained Glass in Detroit. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1875-4. 

External links[edit]