From Our Readers

Fr. Charles Ratnasamy is a great priest! We were blessed to have him at St. Thecla Parish in Clinton Township for a brief time, during which he touched so many with his spirituality, kindness, knowledge, gentleness and humility.
He brought back Eucharistic Adoration (so-needed during our time), Bible study, Pro-life support, and a genuine love of God and His people.
Some people come into our lives and leave quietly. Others stay and leave imprints on our hearts and we are never the same. That’s how I feel about Fr. Charles — those who knew him were changed for life. We still are suffering the loss of him in our lives. May Almighty God bless, protect and guide Fr. Charles always.

Maureen McCarthy
St. Thecla Parish, Clinton Township

Fr. Eric Weber is a blessing in my life because he cared enough to visit me in the hospital after two major surgeries, and then a home visit. Even now he remembers me with notes of cheer and prayers for a shut-in.
Fr. Hector Moreno is a blessing in my life because he cared enough with phone calls from Wisconsin after my two major surgeries with words of comfort through the pain. He also now sends words of comfort to a shut-in.

Catherine Blascyk
Pontiac

Fr. Neil F. Daley, OFM, went to school at Dun Scotus in Southfield and had his first Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Calumet. He went into the Air force as a chaplain, and retired from the Air force as a captain. He now lives in Flordia. He was very proud to have been a priest.

Frederick Daley
Clawson

Fr. Socorro Fernandes, a Pallottine order priest, came to Our Lady of Loretto as its pastor in October of 2010. He is a very happy, humble, caring and compassionate priest. He loves being a priest and loves celebrating Mass. He is a fine example to our youth and shows them just how wonderful and rewarding a vocation to the priesthood can be. He goes out of his way to meet all the needs of his parish family.
We are very blessed to have Fr. Socorro as our pastor at Our Lady of Loretto.

Virg Leads
Our Lady of Loretto Parish, Redford Township

My husband and I walk Sommerset each weekday and wanted a church near so we could say “hello” to God. Fr. Donald Demmer of St. Alan’s made it possible for us. He came to this older church and made it more inviting by cutting down the overgrown greens in front of the church and replaced them with attractive flowers.
He also made the inside more inviting by adding a few updated innovations. One was a fake stone wall that attracts your eye toward the altar. He didn’t seem to take the Crown Jewels to do this.
His personality, his high-energy friendliness, and he greets all who attend.
He knows his flock and is a friend of yours just after a few meetings. He makes the service short, but educational.
Although we are older folks and have listened to the Gospel for years, we have learned more with his interesting presentation.
Word must have spread because weekday Masses are very well attended. Folks leave the church with smiles on their faces.
Happy people add to the glory of God’s world. Isn’t that what it is all about?
We are certain there are oodles of more wonderful priests. We just don’t happen to know them. We come from St. Thomas More and Fr. Edward Belczak is also very pleasant.

Marilyn Burke
Troy

Thank you for the opportunity to call attention to the two excellent priests who serve at the parish where I am a member, St. Paul of Tarsus in Clinton Township.
Our pastor Fr. Ron Essman and weekend associate Fr. John Kiselica are both terrific homilists with a clear idea of what they want to say and the ability to say it engagingly and with good humor.
In addition, Fr Ron is a real leader in all aspects of parish life.
He has a strong sense of mission for his own ministry and for this church, but is never reticent about sharing his own questions and struggles with us.
Along with Deacon Tom Carter, these two priests continue the tradition of pastoral excellence that has always been a special blessing of St. Paul of Tarsus Church.

John Hickey
St. Paul of Tarsus, Clinton Township

The priest who has blessed my life is Fr. James Lopez.
In April 2005 I was hospitalized with a life-threatening illness. While giving his homily one Sunday, he mentioned a friend in the hospital (the same one I was in) and his plans to visit him later that week. Even though we didn’t know him that well yet, my parents asked if he could visit me if he had time. When my parents came to visit, to their surprise Fr. Lopez was sitting at my bedside praying while holding my hand. I was in the hospital three more months and, being the thoughtful caring person he is, he would ask my family for updates on me whenever he saw them. After coming home I knew I had a long difficult road ahead of me, but through it all Fr. Lopez was there for encouragement and support whenever I needed it.
Sadly in September 2006 my younger brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. Due to their similar personalities, we asked Fr. Lopez to do the funeral Mass. At one point he addressed my brother saying, “since you are no longer with us, I will take over your role of little brother.” This touched me so much.
In 2007 he was assigned to another parish but because of everything we’ve been through we have remained friends and keep in contact as much as possible. I know he will always be there for me and I am happy he said “yes” to God’s calling. I am proud to call Fr. Lopez not only my friend but also “my little brother.”

Julie Kravetz
Waterford

This year, Nativity of Our Lord in Detroit, celebrates it’s 100th Anniversary And Fr. Jerome Singer made it all possible!! He, along with Sr. Jolene and our very active parish council, and many many devoted parishioners, made Nativity a very viable church.
Without Fr. Singer’s love, dedication, leadership and sacrifices for over 45 years, this milestone most likely would not come to fruition.
So it is not surprising that loyal parishioners come from as far away as Ypsilanti and Alganac to share in our liturgy.
Fr. Singer welcomes everyone with a hug or handshake. His gentle and quiet manner and warm smile endear him to all who meet him.
But most of all, he inspires us to be the best that we can be, and walk with Our Lord everyday.
Being a humble man, Fr. Singer would never expect or need recognition for himself as our pastor, but he is so very deserving of this honor.
Congratulations dear Father… carry on!!

Elaine Wois
Roseville

I would like to tell you about our pastor, Fr. Bill Promesso at St. Cyprian in Riverview. I moved to Riverview last November and started attending Mass at St. Cyprian. After a few weeks, Father knew my first name. I was very impressed. He also knew everyone else’s name. I knew that was the place for me. I felt very much at home. Two weeks ago he said “hello” and joyfully said my last name. Wow! How did he know?
Father is always happy. He’s always smiling. I would say he makes his parishioners feel the same. Did I mention he can sing? He has the voice of an angel. If you need him, he’s always there. He has a real dedication to everything he does. I know he’s there for me if I need him. This is a blessing. I hope after reading this, more people will come to this church and share Mass with a remarkable priest. Or you can see him sometimes on Sunday TV morning Mass.

Patricia Stewart
St. Cyprian Parish, Riverview

When Fr. Howard Vogan came to St Genevieve, he single handedly, began to form the entire parish into a faith-filled family. His values and tradition are unwavering. He is a man of courage, faith, and love for all his parishioners. He knows each one of us personally; he knows our thoughts and prayers, and very often prays along with us. After clustering with St. Maurice, several years ago, Fr. Vogan continues to make time for us always; no matter how big or small our requests have been.
Before Fr. Vogan came to St. Genevieve, I prayed that the archdiocese would send us a priest who was strong in Catholic tradition, and my prayers were answered. I wanted our children to grow in a faith-filled church, and Fr. Vogan has given us that.
We are so grateful to have such a kind-hearted and wonderful spiritual father leading our parish.

The Morasso Family
St. Genevieve Parish, Livonia

Fr. John P. Wheeler, CSB, has been helping St. Priscilla Parish on weekends for over 15 years. He says a very meaningful Mass and gives a sharp homily. He’s recently retired as a French teacher at Catholic Central High School but more involved than ever; he’s either marrying some couple or baptizing babies or visiting the sick at home and in hospitals, etc.
He’s travelled with his French students to France for many years, watching over them.
We lost our 50 year-old son three years ago and when I asked for help on selecting the right readings, etc, an hour later Fr. John brought a whole booklet with such beautiful prayers, our young friends said they were the most meaningful prayers – they just loved it.
Lastly, my friend fell and broke her hip – plus had a stroke and rebroke it by falling again and had to have screws put in to hold it together again. All I said was how bad I felt and Fr. John visited her the next day with Communion and anointed her…
He’s one in a million, and I don’t even know of the many wonderful things he’s done for all his students through the many years. I’m 87 years old and I’ve seen many great priests, but in my book, he’s one in a million.

Violet Hanis
St. Priscilla Parish, Livonia.

Yes! I do know a great priest. A very holy, giving and professional priest whose love for Jesus and Mary the Blessed Mother touches everyone in everything he does.
Fr. Marc Syrenne, CC, was installed at St. Scholastica Church in Detroit on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011. Arriving from Canada, Fr. Marc was not only new to this church, but to this country as well! He has breathed new life into a once-vibrant church community here in the city.
I believe that he is already finding a way into people’s hearts and spirits as well as trying to find his way around the city – which he jokingly refers to as “driving and getting lost” around the city.
I have always had this stigma that made me feel that I was never “knowledgable” or “good enough” to actually help or work alongside a priest. Fr. Marc’s approach is that all of us are always learning, mistakes can be corrected, and sins can always be forgiven. So, here I am helping prepare the altar before Mass! I find that I actually want to attend Mass — it is no longer a chore to me.
Fr. Marc makes himself available in confession. He is there every Sunday before Mass. Every Sunday, there seems to be a few more people at Mass. This is very good to see. After Mass, people linger, talk to one another and meet new people — with Fr. Marc, smiling, right in the center of them!
This very dear and humble priest already knows many parishioners by their first names. He is always very gracious and treats all with a deep respect for life.

Barbara Lund
St. Scholastica Parish, Detroit

I have known many priests but none of them have known me except for Msgr. John Zenz. Early in the weekly service, while the choir leads us in song, Monsignor scans the congregation and seems to greet each person, individually. I anxiously wait for his eyes to meet mine. When they do, he always greets me with a smile or a nod of the head. Now I am not lost in a crowd of hundreds of worshippers. I have been welcomed by a friend. I no longer feel alone.
Monsignor’s homilies are also very personal. It is his delivery as much as the “word” that draws me in. As he stands amongst us, Monsignor often appears to have his eyes closed. I feel like he is thinking about the readings for the first time and we are privy to his inner-most thoughts. The experience is very intimate. In each homily, Monsignor shares personal experiences. He is not afraid to let us see him as human and sometimes fallible.
Finally, at communion, Monsignor always says my name. Sometimes, that is the only time during the week that anybody calls me by name.
I usually only see him once a week. I have to share him with hundreds of other worshippers. But somehow, Msgr. Zenz manages to make it very personal for me. I am happy for the chance to say “Msgr. Zenz, you are a blessing in my life!”

Michele Bierzynski
Holy Name Parish, Birmingham

For nine years while parishioners at Holy Innocents Parish, Fr. Bob Schuster as pastor was sent by God to be a constant source of inspiration to keep our faith strong during the most challenged years of our lives. So many times he showed sensitivity, compassion and encouragement as our family’s faith was tested.
As a gifted homilist Fr. Bob encourages spiritual reflection and prompts a self-examination of our responsibilities as Catholics to immerse ourselves in prayer, stewardship, and fellowship with our parish family. Fr. Bob is dedicated and supportive of Catholic education and relishes working in a parish school environment actively participating in all aspects of school life. He energetically rolls up his own sleeves and works sid- by-side with parishioners with the goal of reinforcing that in every task we perform God is journeying right beside us. He reverently educates his parishioners young and old about the celebration of Mass and the sacraments, making them relevant in a modern world.
We will always be grateful that Fr. Bob Schuster has given his life as an offering to God truly becoming a father to the parishes he serves.

William and Alice Worden
Grosse Pointe Woods

Fr. Jack Baker is a man of faith that has a contagious enthusiasm and exuberance for the priesthood. He has wholeheartedly reached out to others for almost 20 years through his ministry and service. He is a fine example of a true witness to the Gospel. As pastor, he devotedly ministers by sharing his life, celebrating the sacraments and building community. We can always count on Father’s homilies to be engaging, humorous and above all, inspiring. It is a joy to attend a Liturgy where Fr. Jack is presiding.
With his sense of purpose in fulfilling Christ’s mission, Fr. Jack Baker is an exemplary priest. While he was our pastor, he taught us much about service and being disciples of Christ. Organizing a community of volunteers and procuring generous donations, he opened an outreach center that is currently feeding and assisting almost 2500 area families in need. It is Fr. Jack’s commitment to love and serve that continues to bless our lives. With his dedication and boundless energy, he works tirelessly to bring us closer to the Living God. We are indeed blessed by his ministry!

Mr. & Mrs. Rob Jares

I am a parishioner of St. Edward on the Lake Parish in Lakeport, where Fr. Joe Esper is pastor. Fr. Joe starts his homily with a story that leads right into the Gospel of that Sunday. He is a gifted speaker who gets your attention and keeps it right to the end of the homily. He is extremely good with the children of St. Edward’s School and makes their Mass interesting, too. They listen with attention as he teaches them about their faith.
Fr. Joe makes going to Mass something to look forward to with his wonderful homilies. There’s no place like St. Edward on the Lake to attend Mass where Fr. Joseph Esper is pastor.

Barbara McGraw
St. Edward on the Lake Parish, Lakeport

Msgr. Ricardo Bass was truly an inspiration to the people of Prince of Peace Parish. His bright smile and warm welcome each day always touched our hearts. Listening to his homilies brought a new meaning to the word “homily.” His wisdom, spirituality, and love of others were always woven into his words. A bonus to listening to his words was listening to him sing. Wow! Can he sing! You could not help but to join in, too!
His love and concern for all the members of the parish were present at all times no matter what was going on. The parish grew with much strength in so many ways under his guidance.
Truly a man of faith and God’s love, Monsignor lives his vocation each and every day. He absolutely does “walk the walk” and does it so well.
I can only say that we were so blessed to have him with us at Prince of Peace for the short time he was here. We do miss him dearly.

Lillian Shallal
Prince of Peace Parish, West Bloomfield

We extend our condolences to Prince of Peace Parish, but we at St. Hubert are not giving Msgr. Ricardo Bass back to you.
When Fr. Robert Blondell announced his retirement, he asked the parish to pray at each Mass for the selection of a new pastor; so we consider Msgr. Bass a “God-send.”
After only four months, he has imbued us with his contagious laughter and singing, his welcoming spirit as he greets parishioners upon their entrance into the church, and his spirituality emanating from his performance at Mass. He exhibits a joy of priesthood that encourages vocations. Parishioners and staff are pleased that he is such an approachable pastor. His homilies, consisting of stories he has researched and the ensuing moral lessons, touch your heart to the core.
Msgr. Bass met and embraced not only the special needs children, but also those of the family faith formation programs. His interest and concern exhibited at all meetings reflect a pastor who wants to know his people’s needs. We at St. Hubert are not only grateful to God, but also to the archdiocesan leadership for such a grace-filled foresight in assigning Msgr. Bass to St. Hubert.

The staff of St. Hubert Parish
Harrison Township

St. Hubert was privileged to have had a pastor who followed Fr. Borowski in building a new church. The atrium reflects the peace and tranquility of a sanctuary. During my stay at St. Hubert’s, Fr. James O’Leary initiated the building of five Habitat for Humanity homes, ever-conscious of the plight of poor people in the surrounding areas.
Ever prayerful, Father saw to the building of a chapel on the premises where the laity could stop on their way to and back from work. But these are only buildings. Father saw to it that there were annual retreats. He celebrated each holy day with gusto and Irish humor.
The extension of a music room encouraged people to join choirs which performed many plays, cantatas, etc. Lectors, Eucharistic ministers and altar servers were professionally trained.
Ever self-effacing, he extended his assignment beyond the requisite retirement age. We at St. Hubert thank you and pray God gives you strength for the ensuing years.

Sr. Jane Przygocki, SJ

“Salve!” was the opening greeting in 9B Latin at Sacred Heart Seminary High School from Fr. Don Walker in 1965. I have admired that wonderful priest ever since. He made studying the archaic language of Latin enjoyable. Fr. Don then became the dean of men, a role in which he excelled in laying the foundation for all of those seminarians to become future solid leaders in the community. When the high school closed, Fr. Don became the pastor of St. Philip Neri Parish in Detroit — he became my grandma’s pastor; was she ever lucky. He cared for her every spiritual need, even traveling to Wyandotte to minister to her. Every time the Class of ‘69 had a reunion, there was Fr. Don celebrating with us, with his amazing wit.
He is one of the most caring men I know. He retired from active ministry from St. Martha’s, tap dancing for the enjoyment of his admiring parish community at his retirement dinner. Duty called, and in his retirement, he is now unselfishly pastoring two parishes; two more communities blessed to be touched by Fr. Don. He continues to mentor me through frequent emails, in which I reach out to him, looking for answers to frustrating situations — and he responds by challenging me to pray and to action! He is my friend, my mentor, and my “pastor!” I know that I, along with many other faith-filled Christians in the Archdiocese of Detroit, are stronger people for being touched by Fr. Don. “Deo Gratias” for Fr. Don Walker!

Chuck Piotrowski
Brownstown Township

Fr. Charles Ratnasany is an outstanding member of the priesthood. At St. Thecla’s Church, his total focus was on making us holy. As a confessor, he guided us to a deep spirituality. He joined us in saying the rosary, stood with us at abortion clinics, sponsored Eucharistic Adoration, taught a weekly class on the Bible, and visited the sick in their homes. Being my regular confessor and knowing I was going to a hospital, Fr. Charles came to my home to hear my confession.
In every way, he is a perfect model of holiness for us to follow. To really imitate him is to become a saint.
Thank you for this opportunity to praise a wonderful priest.

Donna Hartner, OCDS
Clinton Township

Fr. Mark Borkowski has been a special priest in my life. He was the pastor at Sweetest Heart of Mary, but has since moved on. He has done a lot in making the parish beautiful, which in turn has brought many people back to the parish. Thank you Fr. Mark and God Bless you. We will never forget everything that you have done for Sweetest Heart.
Fr. Darrell Roman is the new pastor at Sweetest Heart of Mary and we have welcomed him with open arms. We are happy to have him and it showed by the great attendance at out parish festival. He is continueing to do great things for the church and hopefully it will continue to grow. God Bless you, Fr. Darrell.

Dorothy Valvano
Sweetest Heart of Mary Parish, Detroit

Fr. David Lesniak is a very dedicated shepherd and inspirational communicator at St. Alphonsus Church in Dearborn. He has touched the lives of our entire family by meeting the spiritual needs of our parents before they died. He routinely came to visit and pray with them and brought Holy Communion. He continues to provide emotional and spiritual support to our entire family.
May God continue to bless him and bless us with Father Lesniak as our pastor.

The Bonanno Family
St. Alphonsus Parish, Dearborn

A blessing in my life. Yes! I look forward to Mass each week as the words Fr. Tom Belczak uses to weave his message to his faith community come from his heart through God.
What a gift he shares with us. No written script in hand. He comes down from the alter and speaks to us with his life stories.
Looking at us through loving eyes and heart he is able to give us hope. How does all this happen? His humor. We smile, we laugh with him. He is human and so are we. He is serious in his faith as are we but he shows us, just as God did, joy with God.

Chris Radzilowski
St. Kenneth Parish, Plymouth

A great priest is one whose presence is apparent in the lives of his parishioners; one who connects and relates to them on their level. Some people go about their business unaware of the profound affect they may have on the people they encounter. Fr. Jerry Slowinski of St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish is one of these people.
I am very thankful for Fr. Jerry’s presence in the life of my family. He has had a positive influence on my daughters from the time they were altar servers and now in their adult lives.
Prior to major back surgery, Fr. Jerry approached me and asked if I wanted to be anointed. He asked me! I was at such peace after the anointing. What a blessing!
Very unexpectedly, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I asked Fr. Jerry if he would anoint dad. Without hesitation, Fr. Jerry was at the hospital. Dad was not even one of Fr. Jerry’s parishioners! He was at peace when he died two weeks later.
I am one person. My family is one family. Multiply this by the entire parish family and everyone else that Fr. Jerry comes in contact with and it’s mind-boggling to think of the magnitude of blessings bestowed by one person. Fr. Jerry would probably say he was just doing his job. But the way he does his job has a lasting affect that makes a difference in the lives of others. Fr. Jerry is a great priest!

Alice Hatalsky
St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish, Sterling Heights

Fr. Lawrence Jackson and I were classmates at St. Gertrudes High School in St. Clair Shores. We graduated in 1952. Fr. Larry became a priest in 1960 and said his first Mass at his home parish of St. Margaret of Scotland in St. Clair Shores.
A few months later, he celebrated my wedding Mass at St. Margaret Mary’s Church in Detroit, my wife’s parish. With St. Margaret Mary’s having two priests, and Fr. Larry being the celebrant, we had a solemn high Mass for our marriage — something you don’t see today!
Fr. Larry was assigned to several parishes, ending up with an 18-year stay at St. Michael’s in Clinton Township until his senior status attainment.
When our children were small, we would visit Father at the various parishes to which he was assigned. We kept in touch with Fr. Larry over the years.
Fr. Larry celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest last year, and he is on call to fill in at any parish as needed, as all senior status priests are!
It was a blessing to have Fr. Larry marry us! This month, we are going on 51 years of being “happily married.”
Thank you Fr. Larry!

Mr. & Mrs. Ed Wosciechowski
Roseville

If we are recognizing our priests on Priesthood Sunday, then it is an honor as a Catholic community to acknowledge Fr. James Bilot. He is the pastor of a large parish that includes an elementary as well as a high school which, along with its many rewards, is not without its challenges. Through his pastoral leadership, he does a remarkable job of balancing all of the responsibilities of the pastor, without missing the opportunity to minister to each of us with the greatest care.
Last year several tragedies sruck our high school community when we lost some of our high school students and young alumni. During this time, when we struggled with our grief, Fr. Bilot was the pastor that tended to his flock with kindness and strength. He did an extraordinary job of selflessly supporting and comforting us through such huge losses. With an eye on every detail of our spiritual needs, he ministered to us with unfathomable strength in faith that only comes from the love of God. Fr. Jim Bilot’s compassion is genuine and unrelenting. We give thanks for his ministry.

Staff of Divine Child High School
Dearborn