Plymouth — Joseph Gajda’s healthy enough to get to Mass each week, and even strong enough to carry around his three-year-old son Ethan in one arm.
But he’s one of many people in the Archdiocese of Detroit who are looking out for others who, due to age or infirmity, aren’t able to drive or be driven to Mass each weekend.
“I would put myself in someone’s shoes who doesn’t have the means to get to Mass,” says Gajda, outside of his home church, Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth. “That’s very important.”
In that spirit, Gajda purchased tickets for “Concert for a Million” — an upcoming fundraiser at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament that benefits the “Mass for Shut-Ins.” A decades-old ministry in the Archdiocese of Detroit, “Mass for Shut-Ins” is taped at the Fox 2 Studios in Southfield and aired on Fox’s Detroit station each Sunday morning at 6 a.m. The half-hour Mass features local celebrants, music ministers, and a rotation of volunteer lectors and servers.
The concert, which will be at 3 p.m. on May 22, is meant to raise funds to continue to support the Mass. Not only is the Mass popular in the Detroit area — it’s aired around the country on cable television stations, and is estimated to reach up to one million people every week.
“It’s quite rewarding (to participate),” says Joe Shevlin Jr., an Our Lady of Good Counsel parishioner and volunteer lector on the Mass. “There are so many people who can’t make it to church, and the only way they can participate is through the Mass for Shut-Ins.”
Having been involved in the Mass for 25 years, Shevlin says he’s come to know that it reaches Catholics in a variety of circumstances. That’s why, when the ministry found it necessary to do a fundraising concert this year, he volunteered still more of his time to help sell tickets.
“There’s so many different kinds of individuals who watch it,” he says. “People who are temporarily sick and can’t go to church. There are also people who are homebound always, or those in nursing homes — even prisoners.”
Fr. Brian Chabala, pastor of St. Fabian Parish in Farmington Hills, said the “Mass for Shut-Ins” was important to his family, too. He had an uncle who, bedridden because of an injury for 30 years, had his main ties to the Church through the Mass.
“That’s when I became familiar with it,” says Fr. Chabala, whose parish also hosts ticket sales. “It was a great assistance. It’s a very worthwhile cause.”
Aside from the cause it supports, the Concert for a Million certainly has some appeal in itself. It will feature local musicians under the direction of Louis Canter, director of music for the Archdiocese of Detroit, and the Cathedral Children’s Choir.