Priesthood Sunday – Readers weigh in

letter from parishionerAs we have for several years now, The Michigan Catholic asked its readers to write in about their favorite priest in honor of Priesthood Sunday — which is Oct. 27 this year — and, like every year, you didn’t disappoint. Below are all the letters we’ve received to date honoring our priests for the selfless and tireless work they do throughout the year.

My special priest is Fr. Edward Zaorski. He is my “expression” priest. He taught me to know about the love of God and Jesus. As we, all of us people, have some emotional feeling that turns into bitterness and hate, I didn’t know how to or I didn’t want to forgive or forget. It was making me bitter and sick. I developed all kinds of sickness. Name it, I have it. But when I was introduced to SS. Andrew and Benedict Church and met Fr. Ed and kept going to church, listening to his sermons, I realized what I was doing to myself. I learned to take one step forward and two steps back. Forgive and forget. It might not seem much. But I feel 100 percent better of myself and I got so much closer to the Lord, and I attend at my church all the time where I couldn’t find it elsewhere. And I have been to many. They were all good churches, but when I walked into SS. Andrew and Benedict, I felt something very spiritual come over me. I went over to seat myself, and Margaret introduced herself and gave me a rosary. After service, Fr. Ed approached me and introduced himself to me. I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Mary H. Puentes

Fr. Darrell Roman has only been our pastor at St. Isaac Jogues and St. Angela for a few months, but he has brought many people back to the Church with his inspiring homilies. He has a warm, caring personality and has a great sense of humor. He enjoys our schoolchildren and seniors alike. He has given me a greater appreciation and love of the Holy Eucharist. He has a great smile, a beautiful singing voice and he really likes pierogis! What a perfect combination! Thank you, Fr. Darrell, and God bless you always.

Bev Palermino
St. Clair Shores

Fr. Leo Sabourin from St. Constance Parish in Taylor is a real blessing in my life since he became my spiritual director some months ago. Through his insightful spiritual direction I’ve become much closer to Jesus than I thought possible, and this is because I’ve learned an invaluable lesson from Fr. Leo on how to pray Lectio Divina. Through Lectio Divina I was able to see even more profoundly just how much Jesus truly loves me and is calling me to be in a vocation with Him. Although I felt the desire solely to belong to Christ, if I had not been instructed by Fr. Leo on this ancient prayer method, I may have never completely “heard” or truly recognized Jesus’ own proposal for me to espouse Him in the vocation of consecrated virginity. Fr. Leo is helping me to see how Scripture is lived out in my life, and to understand God’s handiwork in things I’ve experienced. It’s not only Fr. Leo’s spiritual direction that made an impact in my life, but attending Mass at St. Constance is another privilege. The presence of Christ is felt strongly when Fr. Leo presides at Mass. He deeply loves his parish family, making time for everyone regardless of how busy he may be. Everyone is made welcome at his parish. He’s an extraordinary man of God with a heart full of love like Jesus Himself!

Theresa Anne Jordan

My name is Dawnmarie, and I would like to tell you how I appreciate Fr. Theo D’Cunha. When I first met Fr. Theo, I said to myself, “Fr. Theo is the kind of priest we want as our priest here at St. Priscilla Church forever.” Fr. Theo has done wonders for our parish. Fr. Theo is nice, kind, loveable and very compassionate to all members of all ages of our St. Priscilla Parish family. When we need Fr. Theo, he is always there for us all, or sometimes when he sees us, he makes time to chat with us. Fr. Theo is really, really special to me and has always been a blessing to me. When my dad passed away April 17, 2013, Fr. Theo was there for me and helped me through the sadness. Fr. Theo really, truly loves God and Blessed Mother Mary, and so do I. I love God and Blessed Mother Mary, and I love Fr. Theo as my priest and as a friend. We here at St. Priscilla all love Fr. Theo; he has done a lot for our parish. Fr. Theo has always been an inspiration and a blessing in my life. I would like to say, Fr. Theo, thank you for everything you have done for our St. Priscilla Family Parish. Thank you, Fr. Theo, we all love you.

Dawn Marie Mays

I’m writing this letter regarding why “our priest” is special. Fr. Jerry Slowinski serves our congregation of more than 1,000 families registered at St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish in Sterling Heights. He has been with us seven years; time flies so quickly. Fr. Jerry provides for us his services every Sunday, sometimes changes with Fr. Ron Milligan from St. Ephrem Parish, but not often. Fr. Jerry gives us blessings of the sick on the last Tuesday of the month, not to count the weddings, baptisms, funerals and Masses during the week also. Fr. Jerry’s homilies are always interesting and great to listen to. He is a priest of our time, so easy to talk to. Might I add Fr. Jerry paid off our parish debt; I would think that was “Alleluia!” time. Enough said, but I am being grateful. And blessing of pets this Sunday. I am adding a poem I found by Gerald Herriott called “Being Grateful.” We take each day for granted/Like tomorrow is guaranteed/Show love and give love and your/Heart could be freed!/Just to wake up is a blessing;/To a bright, sunny day/If things aren’t perfect/”It’s OK!”/If you’re a good person, just trying/To be faithful, understand/”Life owes you nothing,” so/”Please” try to be grateful!/”God bless.” I am indeed, for priests like Fr. Jerry Slowinski!

Margaret Wisniewski
Sterling Heights

I would like to give praise to our priest, Fr. Raymond Bucon, pastor of St. Sabina Church in Dearborn Heights, for his outstanding contributions to God and country and especially to our parish. He is an extraordinary example of selfless giving and caring, and we are so grateful to have him as our pastor. He recently retired from 27 years of service in the U.S. Army Reserves and chaplain and colonel, serving three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He received the Bronze Star for service above and beyond the call of duty in Afghanistan, where he was chaplain over many other denominations of chaplains and troops of soldiers during wartime, serving Mass, counseling, and bringing the sacraments to them. When he returned from Afghanistan, he was commissioned by the Army to travel to Army bases around the U.S., training other Army chaplains in Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome for returning soldiers and their families. He is also the chaplain for the Dearborn Heights police and fire departments. He has a powerful and very humble way of saying just the right things that touch our hearts with gratitude, and lift our spirits. Fr. Ray is a blessing to us, and we honor him on Priesthood Sunday, for all of the many hearts and souls he has touched with his amazing spirit.

Marylou Janiga

“At Prince of Peace Parish, West Bloomfield, we appreciate a lot of things that FR. RON JOZWIAK does; here are just two. On the feast of St. Francis, Fr. Ron blesses “Finley,” the dog is expected to last only two or three days longer since he has had two pacemakers and is now very ill. The other appreciation is my story. Labor Day morning I went down, my wife called EMS and they rushed me to St. Joseph Mercy, Pontiac. Cancer was found. The only thing I remember is Fr. Ron came out and anointed me before my brain surgery. What I understand now is that he went back to the parish and informed the Changing Lives Together prayer team, and they began to pray that God would carry out his plan for me. My cancer turned out to be treatable, although I will need chemo and radiation treatments. Thanks Fr. Ron, for all you do.”


Those were my late husband’s words last year. He passed away a week later. What I can say about Prince of Peace and especially Fr. Ron, is that if not for the parishioners, Father, and my own faith I wouldn’t be where I am today. My husband was blessed and left this earthly world we live in with grace.


I would like to tell you about Fr. John Blaska. He was a newly ordained priest in 1953 when he arrived at St. Mary of Redford Parish, where we were parishioners. Our family then consisted of my husband, Herb, two very young sons, and myself, Mary Boldt. Fr. John immediately became involved in the parish by joining the bowling team sponsored by Herb Boldt Sr. The rest is history. We all became friends. When Fr. John was transferred to different parishes in the archdiocese, we kept in touch. When our family grew to eight children, we would call on him for the baptisms. He was often with us on vacation at our cabin in northern Michigan. If he was near enough geographically, he would come for Christmas dinner. As the family aged, he was the celebrant at the family weddings. Now Fr. John is retired. He still is part of our celebrations and funerals. We feel blessed to have had him for a family friend for so many years.

Mary Boldt

This is my third year writing about Fr. Bill Promesso. Hopefully I will be able to write about this talented priest every year. St. Cyprian’s is a place to hang your heart because of Fr. Bill. A new person moved into my building almost two months ago. I brought him with me to Mass, and I told him he would be pleasantly surprised. Fr. Bill did not disappoint; he remembered this man from a year ago when his mother passed away. Fr. Bill was at the nursing home to give the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. It was amazing that Fr. Bill remembered him from a year ago and this man did not belong to our parish at the time. We also had a baptism at Mass and I was glad this man could see and hear the beautiful celebration. After Mass, this gentleman mentioned that he had never seen or heard a priest like Fr. Bill. I told him that Fr. Bill gives parishioners a sense of community, strength of mind and heart, courage and voice. Speaking of voice, Fr. Bill has a powerful and beautiful singing voice. When we all go to meet Jesus and Fr. Bill receives his crown of glory, I know that he will listen to people as he does now. If a problem is important to you, it is important to him. Probably, even the angels occasionally have itchy wings or their harps need tuning. Fr. Bill will help. I just want to say “Thank you, Father.” I know it has been trying times.

Patti Stewart

Fr. Thomas Cusick has been our priest for 25 years at St. Anthony Parish in Belleville. He is very giving of his time. When I needed spiritual guidance with my marriage, he was there to show me how prayer can bring you through anything. When someone is ill and in the hospital, he will take time day or night to visit them, even if they are not of our faith or from our parish. My son-in-law was hospitalized and Father took time to visit and share some prayers with him. Fr. Tom is a very prayerful man, and he treats our parishioners as his own family. He is a blessing to have as our priest and spiritual director. May God bless him with many years to come.

Agnes Cook

There is a lot to appreciate about Fr. Robert Shafer (Father Bob, St. Timothy, Trenton). We will just mention his sense of humor, his timely and relevant homilies, and his welcoming attitude.

Kathleen and Albert White

Before Fr. Albert Bondy came to St. Anne Parish in Warren, Sunday Mass was an obligation. Now it’s no longer an obligation. On St. Joseph’s Day, we have a table with food, and parishioners partake after Mass. We have a grade school and yearly festival. Friday at noon before the festival starts, some eighth-graders are assigned a handicapped person and assist them on the rides. Hope he stays forever, because I don’t like to be obligated.

Leonard Grzyb
Sterling Heights

Why our priest Fr. Mike Verschaeve is special to us: He is very kind, understanding always has time to talk to you. His homilies are excellent. He would do anything for you. He came to our house and made us sauerkraut on Labor Day. He is very special. He also has a sense of humor.

Bob and Jeanette Skipinski

Fr. Dave Blazek is the most gentle, kind and compassionate priest my daughter and I have ever met! He’s very caring and welcomes everyone with open arms and a warm smile. Truly, a “shepherd” called to lead people to our Lord Jesus! Thank you, Fr. Dave; we love you!

Cheryl & Nicole

Kudos to Fr. Richard Cavellier, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Auburn Hills. He patiently taught me — and still is — the correct pronunciation of those biblical names of kings, prophets, slaves, etc. See, I am a lector with a foreign tongue! Grazie, Father, and God bless you.

G. Galicia Hahne

Our priest, Fr. David Lesniak, pastor of St. Alphonsus Church, Dearborn, is a faithful man of God. He is not afraid to come out strong and open and tell us what our stand and obligations are if we are to claim to be a Catholic. To just say we are is not enough. We cannot follow what the world accepts is right; we must follow what God has told us from the beginning of time. Father teachers us to pray and not be in fear of the world’s situation. “God is in control.”
Matthew and Madeline Keller

Pastor Fr. Gerard LeBoeuf, he is all you want in a priest. Handsome, helpful, gentle, good voice. Very good sermons and the best at confessions. And Fr. Greg Rozborski, oh boy! He is a knock-out when it comes to giving sermons. He is great. Makes every lady smile. He is loving, prayerful that comes from the heart, helpful, joyful and kind.

Ann Chase

A humble building was turned into a work of art for church services by Fr. Donald Demmer. This is not why we praise him. I am a member of St. Thomas More, and we have not had a permanent priest but have been sent help when priest are free. Since an auto is available we can be at Christ our Light in a short time. My husband and I can continue our spiritual growth during weekday Mass. Fr. Demmer knows his flock. He gets his religious view with friendliness and humor. More people seem to come to weekday Mass after they hear Father is a pleasant, down-to-earth person. Thank you, Fr. Demmer for doing God’s work. Great job!

Marilyn Burke

I am Maureen (Renee) Beger. My pastor is Fr. Donald Archambault of Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Detroit. Fr. Don is a blessing for me and our whole parish. If you need to talk to Fr. Don privately because of something going on in your life that you can’t handle, Father gives you his undivided attention. He talks with you and relaxes you. Fr. Don gives many inspirational homilies on Sunday. They stay with you all week. It’s amazing how it can help you during the week. I have received many blessings from Fr. Don for my illness. It is wonderful how much his blessings have helped me. Thank you for giving Fr. Don to us for the past 25 years.

Renee Beger

In Lakeport, there is a beautiful church and school called St. Edward-on-the Lake, where Fr. Lee Acervo is pastor. I am a parishioner there and enjoy going to Mass on Saturday night and Sunday morning. His sermons are wonderful, and he keeps us informed about our Catholic faith in today’s world so that we remain good Catholics. He is also very active with our school and children. They think he’s great. For such a young priest, Fr. Acervo sings the Latin Mass beautifully on Sunday afternoon at St. Edward’s. We are truly blessed to have Fr. Lee Acervo as our pastor. We hope he will be with us many, many years.

Barbara A. McGraw

Fr. Roman Pasieczny is a most caring and compassionate pastor. My wife and I have had the honor and joy of being recipients of this priest’s care for God’s people. As Fr. Roman Pasieczny’s deacon, I am honored to assist him. He fulfills his role as shepherd of St. Martin de Porres Parish, Warren.

Deacon Marion and Yvonne Jurewicz

Our pastor at Corpus Christi in Detroit is Fr. Don Archambault. He has been our beloved pastor for 25 years. Under his leadership we have become a merged parish with the new name of Corpus Christi. Fr. Don encourages all of us to take seriously our roles as “the Body of Christ” here in the city. One of his greatest gifts is coaxing and encouraging each of us to use our gifts and talents in whatever way possible, to help build up God’s kingdom. Fr. Don’s love and concern for each parishioner is very evident. His ability to minister to our diverse congregation is remarkable. Fr. Don Archambault truly is a blessing to ALL the members of Corpus Christi parish. I thank God each day for him!

Andrea Baier

Fr. Ron Joswiak is always reminding us of God’s mercy, that our Heavenly Father loves us and he also remind us our duties as Catholics, that it is great. He always has a nice word to say and a smile to everybody. We love to attend Mass with him!

Karla Flores

Fr. John Riccardo is remarkable for the way he gives himself to people. He has a beautiful heart and cares deeply about the people entrusted to his care. He shows us God’s love and helps us to learn how to love God in return.

Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish,

Fr. J.J. Mech is … jolly. Always laughing and drawing people into conversation. He really wants to know people and is always eager to help people. He always appears full of energy and enthusiasm and this attitude is contagious.

St. Anastasia Parish, Troy

I am writing to give praise and thanks to Fr. Larry Webber, OFM Cap., at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit. I am unable to feed myself or walk alone, and Fr. Larry always comes to my aid by feeding me and pushing me in the wheelchair! It is a truly moving experience for our community to see his actions of loving kindness and selfless service; stepping out of the box for the most vulnerable of God’s creation! His gentle humility and compassion in helping someone unable to return the kindness truly exemplifies what Jesus asks of us — service to others in action, not just words! I love you, Fr. Larry.

Jimmy Gavin

We are three times blessed: Fr. Patrick Casey (pastor), Fr. James Lopez (associate) and Fr. John Chen Yongli (residing at our parish while attending classes at Sacred Heart). Three seems to be our lucky number at the clustered sites of Divine Savior, St. Theodore of Canterbury and St. Damian parishes in Westland. Fr. Pat Casey undertook the challenge of clustering our three parish sites knowing full well that he would be pastor of three different financial situations, a parochial elementary school, and a wide range of ages of parishioners and activities at each parish site. With the help of Fr. Jim and Fr. John, he is slowly but surely bringing us all together to worship as ONE but being a part of THREE active, parish communities. We are grateful for their priestly ministry to our Catholic faith community and pray for them to continue to bring us all closer together on our journey of faith.

Deacon Jim Hensel
St. Theodore of Canterbury Parish,

“I’m hungry and you are able to shop for me.” “I’m not able to hear, however, I thank you for speaking loudly.” “I’m not able to see and I thank you for reading to me and informing me of all the events surrounding me.” “I have difficulty walking, however I thank my God each day asking Him to make me a channel of His peace and love.” These are the words of a dedicated priest, Fr. Fabian Slominski, who will celebrate 90 year of life and 65 years as a priest, and who has served his God and his people with unwavering dedication to his ministry. He continues to minister to the poor, visit the sick and dying and celebrate Mass for the shut-ins at the nursing home in Sterling Heights every weekend and holy day. Even though walking, seeing and not being able to hear could be a hindrance, these disabilities do not hinder him from his ministry of serving God’s people. We thank you for all of your achievements that you have made and your loving commitment to the people you have served and continue to serve. We love you, Fr. Fabian, and support you.

Your dedicated caregivers and former parishioners

It would be easy to write about Fr. John Riccardo’s love for God, the Bible, the Church, and his parishioners. I could also write of his knowledge, kindness, faith, and the things he teaches us. But I’m going to sum this up with five words: He leads us to Jesus.

Joni Eastworth
Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish,

I joined St. Mary of the Hills approximately three years ago. I have truly been welcomed into the parish by both the pastor, Fr. Stan Ulman, and pastor emeritus, Fr. Eugene Strain. The tone and example of our parish life at St. Mary’s is guided by the Holy Spirit and set by the leadership of our shepherds. They have created a faith environment which is Christ-filled in every way you could hope for. It is a nurturing, welcoming, loving atmosphere beginning with our two priests, friendly staff and other parishioners. The worship is faith-filled and uplifting including the music. Opportunities abound to participate and serve in the life of the parish. New ideas are encouraged, accepted and help given to implement them. All are treated with love and joy. Fr. Stan and Fr. Strain, our two shepherds, truly know and fulfill the meaning of the title Father. We are blessed to be their sheep!

Judy De Keyser

Fr. Patrick Casey is a true shepherd of his flock who took the time one day to read Psalm 51 to me during my confession. He truly made me feel that my heart could become clean again, and that my spirit could once again be renewed within me!

Terry Lobb
St. Thomas a’Beckett Parish, Canton

I would like to acknowledge a priest I have only known for a short time. His name is Fr. Duane Novelly. He is very “down-to-earth” and has a special aura about him. He is kind and considerate to others and very professional in his role as a priest. He speaks very well and relates his sermons to help the individual understand the message being referred to in the reading of the day. I am very blessed to have met him and am thankful that I have his support in the Christian faith. He is a role-model to many who know him. A humble man.

Donna Bolz

My priest, Fr. Wisam Matti, has been serving the Chaldean community/Chaldean Rite Church since 1997 with humility, while preaching the word of God to others. Fr. Wisam, who now serves at Mother of God Chaldean Parish in Southfield, has brought his parishioners together to worship the one true God which is Jesus Christ in true faith. His compassion for his community has been set and planted, and is blossoming for the old, and present-day youth. With God as his crutch, graces flow through him to provide for his parish and lead his flock. Though there have been many prodigal sons within the community, Fr. Wisam has a way to bring them back with the help of God. With great humor, he makes Scripture fun to learn, and easy to understand. Since his arrival at Mother of God Church, there has been a great growth within the parish. With his bright smile and tender heart, he always has a way to brighten up your day. His dedication to serving and helping others can be clearly witnessed every day, and the treasury of graces in the Catholic Church have been given to us by his hands through the consecration of the bread and wine, to the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. I would like to thank, and appreciate Fr. Wisam for answering God’s call to the priesthood, because nothing but great things have prospered through his service.

Saad Samona
Mother of God Chaldean Parish, Southfield

I would like to express my appreciation for three wonderful priests who have become very important to the St. Thomas More community in Troy. Our parish has been through some difficult times this year and all three of these men have helped in the healing process. Msgr. John Zenz stepped up without hesitation to become the administrator of St. Thomas More. As pastor of Holy Name Church in Birmingham, he undoubtedly had more than enough on his plate running that vibrant parish, but he willingly and gladly took on the additional responsibility of managing St. Thomas More. And he makes the job of running two large parishes look easy! I always appreciate his energy and enthusiasm, but also his deep love of God, which shines through him all the time. He is so thoughtful in his homilies and really tries to help us understand and embrace the teachings of each week. I think our parish family has been blessed to have Msgr. Zenz leading us at this time. Fr. Bob Spezia has been our weekend assistant for a few years now and is very well loved in the parish. His calm and comforting presence has been especially important to us this year. I have always been impressed by the reverence that Fr. Spezia exhibits when he says Mass — I find this very inspirational. You can tell he’s a teacher because he always wants to make sure that we learn something each week and he puts a lot of time and thought into what he says during Mass. His warmth and great personality have made him a most welcome addition to St. Thomas More. Finally, we had the great pleasure of having Fr. Jim Grau with us over the summer. From the very first time he said Mass at St. Thomas More, he impressed us with his sincerity and his wonderful ability to break down the readings and leave us with an inspiring message. We loved having him with us this year and very much look forward to his return during the Christmas season. He will be a wonderful role model for young men considering the priesthood. Thank you for the opportunity to express my gratitude to these three wonderful men.

Kelley Demiryan
St. Thomas More Parish, Troy

One of the things I admire most about Fr. Chris Talbot is his role modeling of not judging others. He seems to always see the positive in others. When you are with him you know he sees you, flaws and all, and still delights in you. Thank you, Fr. Chris.

Susan Mooney Smith
St. Francis of Assisi-St. Maximillian Kolbe Parish,
Ray Township

Fr. Socorro Fernandes came to Our Lady of Loretto after we had just said goodbye to our priest of seven years, Fr. JJ Mech. Transition is tough in any part of life, and was particularly hard when Fr. JJ left Our Lady of Loretto. I had grown close to him, and it was hard to say farewell. However, as we are taught all through our lives, “all things happen for a reason” and Fr. Socorro proved that to be a sustaining truth once again. Fr. Socorro has a very special “way” about him. I know that’s not the most eloquent description, but it is entirely accurate. He emanates a sense of peace, calm and love. After meeting him the first time, that sense was palpable. Fr. Socorro was far away from his native home of India, yet immediately established Our Lady of Loretto as his new home and, we the parishioners, his new family. It was clearly evident that the Spirit had brought him to Our Lady of Loretto and that we would all be the better for it. There is much history at Our Lady or Loretto and many longtime traditions. Fr. Socorro has embraced all of them lovingly and yet has managed to bring his own “way” to enhance all of them. When you are at Eucharist with Fr. Socorro, there is an indescribable calm — a sense of true peace — one that comes from truly being in the presence of Jesus Christ. He is thoughtful in his words and takes great effort to truly “teach” the Gospel each week. He is always available for anyone who comes his way and always has an inviting smile to greet you. We are very fortunate to have such a fine shepherd for our parish, and I am truly thankful that Fr. Socorro was led to our family at Our Lady of Loretto.

Dan Vincent
Our Lady of Loretto Parish, Redford

Our new pastor, Fr. Patrick Casey, is truly a blessing to our tri-parish family of Divine Savior, St. Damian and St. Theodore. Leading one parish is a challenge in itself, but leading three parishes and a school? At times it is mind-boggling when you think of the unique personalities and characteristics of each parish … times three! It takes a “special” person and we are so thankful that the Holy Spirit led Fr. Pat to us! He gives 150 percent of himself to his flock and others. He is involved in various organizations and serves on numerous committees. In addition, Fr. Pat is the vicar of our Northwest Wayne Vicariate! Fr. Pat is down-to-earth with a wonderful sense of humor. His homilies are humbling and he always ends them with a question for us to ponder throughout the week. Fr. Pat knows the mission of the Church and he is inspiring us to be bold disciples. Thank you, Fr. Pat!

Ann Schroeder
Church of the Divine Savior, Westland

It was not unusual, in my growing-up years, to have a priest in our home — for holidays or for Sunday dinner or for card-playing or for any family celebration. Priests were a normal part of my life — but none were as special as Fr. Chris Talbot. From the very beginning of his assignment to St. Francis-St. Maximilian to the present day, he has made a difference to all his “flock.” He can identify with all ages, cultures and levels of knowledge. His celebration of the sacraments touches all who participate, and his joy in serving God’s people is so evident. Fr. Chris extends himself always and shows all how to be Christ-like. What a blessing Fr. Chris is! What an example he is as to how to serve our God.

Sharon Dillaway
St. Francis of Assisi-
St. Maximillian Kolbe Parish,
Ray Township

After moving into the area, I started attending St. Mary Parish in St. Clair about four years ago. I had never been “active” in any church — other than attending Sunday Mass. There have been a number of times when I have literally felt God talk to me through Fr. Greg Deters. Never having considered becoming a lector or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, one Sunday he told the congregation that they were in need of people for this ministry. Although I was in the middle of the church, I swear he was looking right at me! I called the next day and signed up for training, as I felt God was talking to me through him! Three years ago, when my 10-year-old Lab was very sick and had gone blind, Fr. Greg announced that he would be blessing pets the following Monday. I knew at that point what I needed to do, and I reached out to Father. I would bring Buddy to be blessed, and take him the following day to have him euthanized. I was a mess. Fr. Greg called me after it was over to console me, and we have been friends since. I have since joined commissions, become a catechist, and my children will be training next month to be altar servers. I have never been as active in a church and have never felt so at home and part of a family as I have since coming to St. Mary’s, and I feel that Fr. Greg is the biggest part of my growth in faith and service! My kids absolutely adore him, as do so many of my fellow parishioners. Fr. Greg works tirelessly — offering Mass seven days a week, traveling up to 100 miles to visit sick parishioners (even from prior parishes)! He says Mass at nursing homes, and is now working on the great endeavor of hosting Matthew Kelly at our church in April! Fr. Greg is a blessing in my life, and a blessing to St. Mary’s. Thank you for all you do, Fr. Greg. You are well loved and appreciated!

St. Mary Parish, St. Clair

As immediate past president of the Council of Catholic Women/AD, I wish to pay tribute to two special priests whom we have lost in the last year. In January, we buried Msgr. Gerald A. Flanigan, who had been our spiritual moderator in the past and always supported the women of CCW/AD with his prayers, his presence, and his humor. At his funeral, Monsignor was recognized for being “a true priest.” We at CCW/AD miss him dearly and will always remember his kindness to us. More recently we lost Fr. Tod Laverty, OFM, who was a wonderful support to our council in 2009, when we celebrated our 70th anniversary Mass at St. Aloysius Church in Detroit. Father was a “true Franciscan,” who always had time for us, was very cordial and never was too busy to answer phone calls or meet with us during the planning. I thank God for putting Msgr. Flanigan and Fr. Laverty into my life, and I pray for more vocations that can follow in their footsteps. May they rest in peace.

Lorraine McFee

Fr. Boloslaw (Bill) Krol at 79 has been our pastor and now pastor emeritus at St. Louis the King for 22 years. He has been a dedicated, compassionate priest giving selfless service to the church and its members. Fr. Bill has the love and respect of his parishioners for his concerns and for their welfare. He welcomes strangers and greets everyone personally and is appreciative of all who work for the good of the parish. Fr. Krol is a person of special compassion for everyone in any walk of life as he continues serving God’s people selflessly every day!

Marilyn Lewandowski
Guardian Angels Parish, Clawson

When Fr. Joe Malia was in high school at Cabrini, I, a lunch mom, served him pizza or hot dogs at lunch time. One day he stopped by our table to visit and made a statement, lamenting his small stature. I felt bad for him and said “you know good things come in small packages.” He answered, “Yeah, but so does rat poison.” So I am here to tell you that this “small package” has done some many large and remarkable things here at St. Frances Cabrini Parish. When he arrived here as our pastor, this parish was in a bit of disrepair and flux. Because of this “small package” we have become a wonderful, functioning parish, with exceptional schools, and a great future. Thank you and God bless you, Fr. Joe Malia.

John and Frances Dusik
St. Frances Cabrini Parish, Allen Park

Fr. Joe Esper is the most wonderful priest I’ve ever known. Even though he’s at Immaculate Conception in Ira Township, and I attend Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, he has helped and influenced me more than any other priest. He’s a gifted teacher whose homilies are both instructive and interesting. He’s a compassionate listener who makes confession easy for the most afraid. He’s a wise leader who understands that his example is more important than his words. The reverence with which he celebrates the Mass evidences a love of the Lord that no homily could adequately convey, and the respect with which he treats everyone demonstrates that love in action. He gives generously of himself, and his generosity is not limited to his parishioners. Last year, when our mom died, he made the 65-mile drive (one way) to concelebrate her funeral Mass because he knew how much I needed him there. Despite his busy schedule, he makes time to meet with me every month, and returns my calls more promptly than my business colleagues. He willingly takes on the extra work of a school because he understands the importance of a Catholic school education. He has inspired me to want to grow personally and spiritually, guided me through challenging times, and encouraged me always to persevere. I consider myself very blessed to have his influence in my life and thank God daily for the gift of his priesthood.

Darice E. Weber

We appreciate Fr. Tim Pelc for his thoughtful pastoral leadership, his creative sense of liturgy, insightful homilies and his 25 years of dedicated servant-leadership to the people of St. Ambrose. He is an outstanding example of the notion that one person can and does make a difference. We are pleased and proud to call him pastor and friend.

Roger and Sue Playwin
Grosse Pointe Park

Fr. Cornelius Okeke, pastor of St. Andre Bessette Parish in Ecorse, is a blessing to us! He ALWAYS greets everyone individually in the church prior to the start of Mass. His homilies are fervent, relevant and inspirational. His reverence on the altar during the celebration of the Mass is truly a reflection of God. His LOVE for God is as bright as the smile that always lights his face. He is a perfect example of who God intended to be His apostles here on earth. We drive at least 45 minutes, one way, every week from Warren to Ecorse to our new Parish home. To us, having a rich spiritual life is very important and after a long search and a prayerful request to God for guidance, we found our new home. As hard as it was to leave a parish after 50 years, we know God brought us to Fr. Okeke and St. Andre Bessette. We are not alone in our need for spiritual support and guidance as we battle cancer in our family. Some days are harder than others. Fr. Okeke is a constant source of strength and we know that we are in his daily prayers. We also know that if we need to talk with him, there is no question that he will always be here for us. We praised God when we were told that he was now our pastor and no longer administrator. God has blessed us with this holy man. Praise God!

Mary and Betty Moroz

Having been a member of St. Dennis Parish for more than 56 years, a church where my five children were baptized, it was very difficult when the church was closed last November. We chose to join Guardian Angels Church, where right from the start, we were made to feel most welcome. That first Sunday, I introduced myself to its pastor, Fr. Gerry LeBoeuf. The following week when I returned, he remembered who I was and called me by my first name. I was especially touched during Lent when Fr. Gerry called to ask if he could wash my feet on Holy Thursday. During the Mass, he mentioned us by name and why we were chosen. I was there because I was a new member from St. Dennis. Others chosen were a young boy making his first Communion, a student making his confirmation and an engaged couple getting married shortly after Easter. Thank you, Fr. Gerry, for making our transition to Guardian Angels so much easier.

Beverly Hughes
Madison Heights

The intersection of Harper Avenue and Whittier is a blur of dappled light and traffic lights with the grace of St. Matthew Church on its flank. Arched doors of hand-restored oak wood admit you into its portals of welcome. It is here our pastor, Fr. Duane Novelly, administers the sacraments. Pouring out the waters of baptism under the dome and re-christening each kneeler with procession and wave surge of sycamore branch. Calling us by name. Renewing our co-partnership with Christ. Thank you, Fr. Duane, for revealing the colors of light!

Judith Dedenbach-Redman

We first met Fr. Edward J. Prus at Shrine of the Little Flower Elementary School, where our two sons were enrolled. They both served as altar boys at the church with Fr. Prus. After they graduated from the elementary school and went on to Catholic Central and Brother Rice, we lost contact with Father until I was hired by Sr. Patricia Marie Donnelley to be her secretary at Shrine Elementary School. Once again, Fr. Prus came into our lives. At the school, he was loved by all the children, from kindergarten to the eighth-grade students. He frequently came to the school, and you could feel the love the minute he stepped into the building. Always smiling, never too busy, always positive with inspirational words for everyone. Always had time to stop in the office and give me a blessing. Unfortunately, some years later our 38-year-old son died. Fr. Prus was immediately at our side to comfort us in our agony and ease our loss with his Christ-like demeanor. I know he is loved by so many people, however I can only speak from my own experience. To my husband and I, he is and has been the epitome of a priest: selfless, loving, compassionate, understanding, forgiving and always there. Makes me think of those wonderful words, “I am with you always.”

Philip and Barbara E. Ginotti
Commerce Township

We are blessed to have Fr. Bob Shafer as our pastor at St. Timothy Church in Trenton. His sermons inspire and challenge us. He is friendly and has a wonderful sense of humor. Fr. Bob makes everyone feel welcome at St. Timothy Church.

Beverly Sapian

If your priest wasn’t mentioned in this year’s Priesthood Sunday edition and you’d like to include a note of thanks in a future edition, just send a letter to [email protected].