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Sweetest Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church


Sweetest Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church

Sweetest Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church
Location 4440 Russell Street
Detroit, Michigan
Built 1893
Architect Spier & Rohns
Architectural style Gothic Revival, Polish Cathedral
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 78001523[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP January 31, 1978
Designated MSHS July 26, 1974[2]

The Sweetest Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church is located at 4440 Russell Street (at East Canfield Street) in Allen Vigneron, June 19, 2003, Sweetest Heart of Mary joined with St. Josephat and nearby Old St. Joseph Church to become the new Mother of Divine Mercy parish.


The rise of Detroit brought in many John Foley became the new Bishop of Detroit in 1888, Kolasinski returned to the city and began the Parish of the Sweetest Heart of Mary outside the jurisdiction of the Detroit Diocese. Shortly afterward, the congregation added the school structure on Canfield, which still stands behind the church.

Kolasinski negotiated to bring his flock, numbering nearly 4,000 families, into the fold of the Catholic Church. The Panic of 1893 hit the parish hard. Parish members secured a loan in order to keep the building. Eventually, Rome directed the bishop of Detroit to make peace with Kolasinski, and the congregation of the Sweetest Heart of Mary was officially received into the Diocese of Detroit February 18, 1894.[4]

Sweetest Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church

Kolasinski died in 1898. He was temporarily succeeded by the Kashubian priest Rev. Jan Romuald Byzewski OFM, previously pastor of Detroit's Saint Francis of Assisi Parish. When Father Byzewski rejoined the Franciscan Order in 1899, he was succeeded by the assistant, Rev. Joseph Folta, who served as pastor until 1919. Father Folta built a second school, constructed a permanent rectory, and built an ornamental fence about the church.[4] Folta was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Casimir Plagens, who served at Sweetest Heart from 1919 until 1935, and later became Bishop of Marquette and then Bishop of Grand Rapids. Plagens added embellishments the church interior and built a permanent convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph, who staffed the church school.

During Father Plagens's tenure, the parish flourished. The church schools were filled with almost 1,500 pupils, and the church was the social as well as spiritual center of the community. Over time, with shifting demographics, membership waned. This trend accelerated through the tenures of the next three pastors: Monsignor Michael Grupa (1935 to 1949), Rev. Adam Koprowski (1949 to 1959), and Rev. Boguslaus Poznański (1959 to 1976).[4] During the 1960s, the congregation numbers fell. Membership waned in the early 1970s.[5]

In 1976, Rev. Bohdan Kosicki joined Sweetest Heart and began a building restoration and implemented a plan which revived church membership. He reached out and established ties to earlier parishioners, raising funds for the restoration.[4] Sweetest Heart of Mary was placed on the [4]

From 2002 until early 2010, Fr. Mark A. Borkowski was pastor and continued the restoration and revival of Sweetest Heart of Mary. During this period the Annual Pierogi Festival greatly expanded to become the largest religious festival in the City of Detroit. July 1, 2011, Fr. Darrell Roman became the new administrator in addition to being administrator for the other two churches in the cluster, St. Joseph, and St. Josaphat.


The church sanctuary
A stained glass window depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary giving the Rosary to Saint Dominic

In 1890, construction began one "what would become the largest Catholic Church in Michigan."[3] Spier and Rohns designed the present structure. Kolasinski had formed the parish and raised the building funds for the rapidly growing parish. The cornerstone-laying ceremony was held on June 5, 1892, and on December 24, 1893, after construction costs of over $125,000, the church was officially dedicated. More than 10,000 people attended the dedication ceremony.[4]

Sweetest Heart of Mary is one of the largest and perhaps most impressive Gothic Revival churches in the Midwest. The church is constructed of red brick in a cruciform shape with a cross gabled roof The facade on Russell boasts a rusticated stone lower level with a triple portal, a pointed arch structure, and a stone balustrade atop everything. Two towers flank the entrance, topped with identical Spires, which are capped with buttresses and detailed with crosses.[3]

The church includes several impressive stained glass windows created by Detroit Stained Glass Works,[3][7] the successor to the well known firm of Friederichs and Staffin.[8] The major transept window illustrates the Holy Family in Saint Joseph's workshop. Eight windows lining the nave portray Christ, Mary and several saints; this set of windows won a major prize at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.[3]

There are three related building—large rectory, a convent that could house several dozen nuns and a large school building—which make up a local historic district.[3]

The 1893 [9] and the oldest surviving electro-pneumatic in the state of Michigan.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h
  4. ^ a b c d e f
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^

Further reading

  • Orson, Lawrence, (1981) Polish Detroit and the Kolasinski Affair Detroit: Wayne State University Press. 268 pages. ISBN 0-8143-1671-9; ISBN 978-0-8143-1671-9.
  • Serafino, Frank, (1983) West of Warsaw. Avenue Publishing Co. ISBN 978-0-910977-00-5 ISBN 0-910977-00-3.
  • Skendzel, Eduard Adam Kolasinski in the Evening News, 1881-1899 ASIN: B000722P40.

External links

  • , Religious Buildings, Sweetest Heart of Mary.Detroit: The History and Future of the Motor City
  • Sweetest Heart of Mary from the Archdiocese of Detroit
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