Your priests, your words of gratitude


DETROIT – As has become our custom as Priesthood Sunday approaches each year, The Michigan Catholic asked its readers to tell us about their priests. And as has become a custom, you responded with warm memories, words of gratitude, and all sorts of praise for those living the vocation of Holy Orders. The following are your letters about your beloved priests:


They say you don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it. That statement was proven to be true when we were informed that our much-loved pastor, Fr. J.J. Mech, was to become the new pastor of two parishes in Detroit along with being named the rector of the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. Such a huge undertaking could only be filled by someone like Fr. J.J. He was our pastor for eight years. His smile lit up the church and you couldn’t help feeling energized. Fr. J.J.’s warm, enthusiastic and approachable personality always made you feel welcome and completely at ease.

With all his inspiring homilies, you felt you knew and were a part of his family. Your heart ached for him and with him when he lost his beloved dad and his treasured dogs. His humility and reverence were the only qualities that could outshine his smile. He embraced and could relate to all age groups. He made you feel he knew every person he buried. He embraced everyone in all their joys and sorrows.

These are a few of the many reasons we were so blessed to have had him as our shepherd. He remains in our prayers as he continues his ministry.

Marilyn J. Veryser

Fr. Steve Wertanen has just recently become our new pastor at St. Anastasia Parish in Troy. He has been with us only a few months and I know he will gain the love and respect of our parish family.

He is a warm and friendly person with a deep love of God. I’m sure he will bring his own special qualities and ideas that we are eager to embrace.

St. Anastasia has always been blessed with outstanding pastors, and I have no doubt that Fr. Steve will become one of them. We pray that his stay with us will be blessed with much happiness. We look forward to traveling with him as he leads us on the road to strengthening our Catholic faith.

Marilyn J. Veryser

Although Fr. David Lesniak is leaving St. Alphonsus Church in Dearborn as of Oct. 1, we would like to let him know how much he will be missed as our pastor after all these years. He stands firm on the teachings of God and by his sermons and talks has made us more aware of our responsibility for our actions and decisions to follow God’s teachings in our everyday living. May God bless you in your new parish. You will be long remembered and we thank you for all you have done.

The Keller family

I am writing to The Michigan Catholic to let the world — oops, Michigan — know about a most wonderful priest named Fr. Grzegorz (Greg) Rozborski. You don’t need to know a person for a long time to see how wonderful they are. Our parish, St. Pio of Pietrelcina in Roseville, was very lucky to have Fr. Greg assigned to us — meaning Sacred Heart of Roseville, Our Lady Queen of All Saints of Fraser and St. Athanasius of Roseville — to consolidate us into one parish.

This happened about a year and a half ago, and we were called Mission One, Two and Three. Thank goodness that Fr. Greg is young because he worked very hard with people of all ages. He wanted to make everyone happy, which was a difficult process. We all had faith in Fr. Greg and prayed hard for everything to work out. We all love him and are willing to work with him. He is always there for us, whether it be the choir (he has a wonderful voice), education, outreach programs, youth ministry and worship.

I am 84 years old and a Catholic all my life and have never left Mass feeling as good as I do now. Fr. Greg’s sermons are very inspirational and I am still learning about my faith after all these years. Fr. Greg is a wonderful priest. We are thankful that he has now been made our pastor for six years. Thank you for letting me give thanks for a wonderful priest like Fr. Greg Rozborski.

Gerry Frank

Fr. Zbigniew Grankowski has touched our lives at St. Barbara in Dearborn and St. Cunegunda in Detroit in so many ways. We thank the Lord for allowing us to have him with us as our pastor, spiritual guide, the one who is there for us when we need him the most. Father has helped us to recognize the need to reach out and meet the needs of our multicultural and multilingual community. We love him because he loves our children and knows how to reach out to the young. He always seems to have the right words when we face difficult times of illness or the death of a loved one. In times of our happiness, he takes great pride and rejoices with us in the accomplishments of our children and parishioners. He is not afraid to give hugs. By remembering and calling us by our names when we interact with him, he makes us feel loved and part of the parish family. St. John Vianney describes a priest as “He who is not for himself, he is for you.” That’s our pastor, Fr. Zbigniew!

Genevieve Czarnecki

I am a parishioner at St. Isaac Jogues Parish in St. Clair Shores. My pastor is Fr. Darrell Roman. Fr. Darrell is a very holy priest, a perfect homilist, has a beautiful singing voice and is very much a people-person. He is ready to serve you whenever you need him. He maintains our church beautifully. May he be with us for a very long time, and may God continue to bless him. We are truly blessed to have him as our pastor.

Jennie Alcini
St. Clair Shores

This is my fifth year at St. Cyprian Parish in Riverview, and also my fifth year writing about Fr. Bill Promesso and why we love him. It’s been a difficult year. Sometimes I just can’t see the way, but Father never wavered. A rough year past, a better one coming. It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone; Father still shows his wisdom and compassion. I want to write about what Father gives to us:

Where Father is, there is love
When our hearts are light, the day is bright
With Father’s love, there is a song
We know that nothing will go wrong
With his love there is a smile
To make all things worthwhile
With his love there is quiet and peace
We are in a place where turmoils cease
Once in a while I may be out of touch
But Father will mold and shape me and do so much
Father’s love with make the church a better place
For every color, creed or race
Father is our best friend, tried and true
Someone we can tell our troubles to
Father, we never yearned for riches of silver or gold
The treasures you’ve given us cannot be bought or sold

Sister Anne Mamienski, our pastoral associate, has been with us for one year. What a blessing she is. Before Mass, she will greet every person in church. One word to describe her is “energy.” We all love her as well.

Patti Stewart

I would like to mention my teacher, Fr. Jim Grau, during Priesthood Sunday. He deserves recognition for his sense of humor, and the ability to make his students relax because of his humor. Fr. Jim is proficient in his teaching. When you’re in his class at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, you want to learn. I personally am very much at peace in his class. Father has been a priest a short time, but you can already see the future holds great opportunity for him. When this semester is over, I will be a better person for knowing him. When I come back, I hope I have him as my teacher again.

Patti Stewart

Our shepherd, Fr. Brian Chabala at St. Irenaeus Parish in Rochester Hills, speaks to us from his heart. He inspires everyone with his wise words, always entwining the Gospel into daily life in his homilies. By sharing his personal experiences (facing seminary life; befriending a solitary, elderly person at a wedding reception), he opens our eyes, ears and hearts to the messages of Jesus, our Good Shepherd.

You’d never find Fr. Brian on a golf course (admittedly, he dislikes the sport), but you’ll always spot him walking the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day. A modest person, he never touts this as his social action: “Learn from me, for I am humble of heart.”

Once I arrived at a crowded Christmas Mass and found strangers occupying my pew. “How rude of these people who rarely come to church,” I thought. This selfish attitude has vanished because each Christmas (and at all Masses), I see a smiling Fr. Brian extending sincere and heartfelt handshakes to strangers: “All who welcome me, welcome my Father.”

Also a caring listener with a delightful sense of humor, Fr. Brian kindly lent me his ear when I sought his advice. His understanding, wisdom, loving guidance, deep faith and refreshing perspective were most helpful: “Come to me, all you who are burdened.”

What does that song say? “You Gotta Have Heart, Miles and Miles of Heart?” Well, I can tell you that Fr. Brian Chabala has miles and miles of heart. It shows! May I speak for everyone at St. Irenaeus Parish in saying we all have miles and miles of love for our shepherd.

Jo McDonald
Auburn Hills

As parishioners of St. Kenneth in Plymouth, we are blessed by the return of Fr. Tom Belczak as our pastor and spiritual guide. During his nine-month absence, he taught us how to remain strong and maintain faith in the power of prayer. We are also grateful to Fr. Richard Perfetto for his service as parish administrator and for the calming influence he brought during our period of turmoil. We also thank Fr. George Charnley, a retired priest, for his continued service to our parish.

Ray and Chris Grix

The year was 1984, while Fr. Tom Sutherland was pastor at St. Matthias Parish in Sterling Heights, that I noticed how he was dedicated to the Beatitudes of the Catholic faith. My mother died that year, and Fr. Tom took time from his busy schedule to visit her wake. It was comforting to us to have him there. A few years later, our son and daughter-in-law were struggling with life when their stillborn son was taken from them. Again, Fr. Tom was there to counsel and help them through their difficult time. Our daughter and her husband were taking pre-Cana classes and were so impressed with Fr. Tom. Now in our golden years, Fr. Tom now retired but still saying Mass at St. Matthias, he’s still there helping us cope with cancer. He says, “Just call me whenever you need me.” He has taught us not only to believe, but to practice our faith every day.

Frank and Ann Singer
Sterling Heights

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Msgr. Jim Moloney! You have been a true give to St. Anselm Parish in Dearborn Heights. For many years you have been our shepherd of souls, guiding and directing us in all things spiritual, by way of example and through your teachings. You reach out to every segment of your parish — school, administration, parishioners, the elderly, the youth and youngsters. Each week you join us at our club to let us know that we, too, are a vital part of the parish. We see your passion to meet the spiritual needs of everyone in our daily Masses and never miss a chance to be of help and service each and every day, rain or shine, sick or healthy.

You’ve worked far beyond retirement age and done so with a cheerful heart because of your great love for God and His people. Through the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, you’ve served humanity throughout the world. You have also monitored the improvement of our parish grounds and given encouragement to us all. Please know of our gratitude and appreciation for the gift of you! God bless you always.

The members of the Friendship Club
St. Anselm Parish, Dearborn Heights

We would like to recognize Fr. Linus Kinyua in honor of Priesthood Sunday. He is serving us at Henry Ford Village Chapel and St. Clement Church in Dearborn. He has brought happiness to our parish life. He works well with our other spiritual leader, Sr. Mary Downey. He said, “I am happy because I love God and I know He loves me.” And we love him, too, and wish him God’s blessings and a happy birthday.

The Altar Society of Henry Ford Village

I have been blessed to know Msgr. John Zenz from Holy Name Parish in Birmingham. He has an aura of peace and love, which is shared by all who come in contact with him. His smile invites friendliness and caring. Msgr. Zenz is full of God’s love, and I have been privileged to witness this at St. Thomas More Parish in Troy.

Emily J. Calkins

I am writing this letter to tell you about my parish priest. Fr. Leo Sabourin has been a blessing to us at St. Constance Parish in Taylor. His qualifications as a priest go beyond the calling of the faith. He feels for his people. When someone needs a clergy person, the hospitals call on Fr. Leo. He goes whether they are Catholic or not. One was a Japanese family. They have now joined our church. He greets everyone outside of Mass.

He visits retirement homes. He says Mass there once a week. He goes to the hospital when one of his parishioners is ill. He is a hands-on priest. He is very involved in the things that go on in other people’s lives. He attends the narcotics meetings and AA. He brings the children up to the altar for the peace prayers and has one of them start the “Our Father.”

He is involved with the young people, which is long overdue in the Catholic Church. I know because there was nothing for me after my confirmation. He is an understanding person. He will go wherever he is needed, without question. I love my priest because he is so gentle and kind. He could have retired, but we still have him. I thank God during each Mass for Fr. Leo. He announces birthdays, anniversaries and deaths during the Mass. We are like one big family. We have a picnic once a year. No carnivals, just our big family getting together for hot dogs and fun. He has no problem getting volunteers to do jobs around the church. All he has to do is ask and we respond. He welcomes all gusts who visit our church. Most of them register to attend. It is said that people get feelings about other people. Once they meet Fr. Leo, they love him.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist of what my priest does in his parish. I know that sometimes he is lucky to get four hours of sleep. When duty calls, he is like a fire engine. He goes and does God’s work without question, but with the faith of the Lord. He is our priest, and we all love him. I do not work for the parish. I am not a volunteer. I am just a member of his church, thank God.

Filomena Lewis

We have been blessed the past few years at Holy Family Parish in Memphis with great associate priests. When I think of Fr. Phil Ching (2012-15), Fr. Sean Bonner, who arrived this summer, and Fr. John Kopson (who interned with us), the words that come immediately to mind are “good sports.” Their insight in the confessional has been a great blessing to our family as well.
Then there’s our pastor, Fr. Joe Horn. Fr. Joe was with me on the happiest day of my life, as well as the hardest. He baptized four of my six children, and gave all but the youngest of us our first holy Communions. Fr. Joe and I have laughed, cried (and argued) through many ups and downs. I am a convert and it is through him that I have learned why we call our priests “father.”

Kristyn Hall

St. Isaac Jogues parishioners in St. Clair Shores were blessed when the archbishop assigned Fr. Darrell Roman as pastor of our parish. Fr. Darrell has wonderfully inspirational homilies. He cares deeply about his parishioners, which is evident from the amount of time he spends getting to know each one. Father is also responsible for bringing the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist to our school. They have deeply impacted our children, from an excellent education to teaching them high moral standards. Because of Father’s influence and our wonderful principal, Sr. Catherine Marie, we now have a new, $80,000 science lab that is the envy of our community. We, at St. Isaac Jogues, are indeed blessed to have Fr. Darrell Roman as our pastor.

Bonnie Garofalo
St. Isaac Jogues, St. Clair Shores

Fr. Mike Verschaeve is a wonderful parish priest. He has always been a witness to consistency and kindness and is an example of being a servant to his flock at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Lake Orion. He is a humble servant of our Lord and steadfast in his love and respect of Christ at the altar. It can’t be easy to balance all the demands of being a priest of both a school and a church, but Fr. Mike is a priest I admire for his daily example of being holy and an example of virtues in action. Thank you for the opportunity to say thank you, not only from myself and my family, but from all those at the St. Joseph, Lake Orion, community.

Don Watza
St. Joseph the Worker, Lake Orion

St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Detroit is a true representation of the diversity of the metropolitan Detroit area. Under the current leadership of Bro. Ray Stadmeyer, OFM Cap., St. Charles has grown not only in membership, but in dedication to being a very strong anchor in the neighborhood known as West Village near Belle Isle, and the parish continues to serve the spiritual and human needs of the near east side neighborhood it has served for more than 125 years. Brother Ray not only serves as the pastor at St Charles Borromeo, he has the added responsibility of Nativity Parish and also runs the On The Rise Bakery, a Detroit-based ministry of the Capuchins. Please make time to attend the 11:30 a.m. Mass on a Sunday at 1491 Baldwin, Detroit, as my guest and get to meet this wonderful man and the parish. It might even bring you back to church as it did for me three and a half years ago. Amen.

Thom Mann
St. Charles Borromeo, Detroit

Fr. Ray Stadmeyer, OFM Cap., is the priest of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Detroit. He started the community dinner to feed the homeless people on Sundays. So far it’s working out pretty good; I love working there.

Rene Van Zaelen
St. Charles Borromeo, Detroit

The following prayer sums up what Fr. David Cybulski is to his parish (St. Joseph in Erie). He is truly a gift from God from the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Dearest Lord,
teach me to be generous:
teach me to serve You as You deserve:
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward
save that of knowing I am doing your will.
Take, O Lord,
all my liberty,
Receive my memory,
my understanding and my will.
You have given me all that I am
and all that I possess.
I return it all to You and surrender
it to the guidance of Your will.
Give me only Your love and grace.
With these I am rich enough
and ask nothing more.

—”St. Ignatius of Loyola”

Thank You Fr. David!

The parishioners of St. Joseph Parish, Erie

We at St. Benedict Parish in Waterford are truly blessed to have Fr. Jim Mayworm as our pastor. Fr. Jim graciously agreed to come out of retirement nearly two years ago from Florida to be our pastor. We had been without a full-time pastor since his predecessor, Fr. Larry Siroskey, was forced to take a medical leave. We weren’t sure about our future for several months in 2013, having to rely on the gracious contributions of numerous guest priests for many weeks. At first, Fr. Jim agreed to stay on only temporarily until a new full-time pastor was installed, but after six months agreed to stay on as long as his health remains good, and we pray it does for a long time! Fr. Jim has been like an answer to our prayers, and has done much to increase attendance and membership at our church as well as instituted some new ideas which have been most warmly received by our parish.
We only hope that he agrees to stay on with us for the foreseeable future!

Tom and Lisa Lewis

Fr. Stephen Rooney has brought laughter and humor back into our lives here at St. Catherine Church, part of Our Lady on the River Parish in Marine City. He is inspiring and gets our attention during the homilies. His outlook on life brings joy to ours.

Mary Minnich
Our Lady on the River Parish, Marine City

I am a member of St. Augustine and St. Monica Parish in Detroit, and I am so grateful to have Msgr. Dan Trapp as my pastor. Although I don’t get to my parish every week for Mass due to my work schedule, on the Sundays that I do get there, I feel so blessed and filled with the Holy Spirit that I just feel wonderful all day! Msgr. Trapp celebrates the Eucharist with such meaning and makes me feel like I am sitting at the table with Jesus as He recites the prayers. His homilies are spoken from his heart, not from notes. He explains how the Gospel that was just proclaimed builds on what we’ve heard and learned in the last several weeks. He doesn’t beat around the bush either; he never mixes a talk of need and money in with his homily. His participation in the Mass is one that is dedicated to that moment. Announcements are saved until the end of Mass, again, not mixed in. As a congregation, we also give thanks for anyone “celebrating the gift of life” for the coming week; we sing “Happy Birthday” to those who are having a birthday. Fr. Dan also welcomes all visitors each week and makes them a part of the community by asking them to stand as we give them a round of applause.
If you leave St. Augustine and St. Monica with anything less than blessings and a heart filled with love for your fellow Christians, than you’ve not fully experienced what a celebration of the Eucharist is about! May God continue to bless the people of our parish with the support and love of a priest that truly loves what he is and lives for the Lord!

Deborah McHardy
Clinton Township

I relay this with some trepidation because this young priest, less than two years out of the seminary, is seriously trying to practice humility. But, it’s worth noting. I’ve dubbed him Fr. 201. Because for many decades I’ve heard Gospel 101 preached in so many homilies. Fr. Ryan Adams always manages to take things to another level, a little deeper and a little more thoughtful, a joy to hear and ponder. And a great credit to Sacred Heart Major Seminary’s teaching.

Mark Maisonneuve

The priest who inspired my husband and I is Fr. Henry Sands. He was pastor of our church, St. Alfred in Taylor, for just four years. He changed our life and many others in that short time to be better people and to love one another and most of all trust Him and make Him your personnel friend and your life will be fuller. He did this in his homilies, but most of all he inspired us by his actions and his love of the Lord that was always noticeable as he celebrated Mass and was really a shepherd to his congregation.

He loved people, even those who did not see the goodness in him. We have been at St. Alfred for 50 years, and when Fr. Henry came there, it was like a light in the dark and suddenly we all were grateful to be Catholic. He brings people together, inspires you to be a better person, to love and trust the Lord, to pray all the time, to talk to Him as a friend who loves you no matter what. We have never met another priest quite like him. He is always striving to serve the Lord the best way he knows and he has many talents the Lord gave him to do just that! We know there are a lot of good, hardworking priests out there, but Fr. Henry is the one who came into our lives and changed everything for the good.

My husband and I are so happy that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops saw the talents he has and how much he loves the Lord and appointed him executive director of the African American and Native American missions! Now he will encounter many more people and their lives will never be the same again. We hated to see him leave our church, but the fact that many more will be helped and inspired by him is a good thing. God knows what he is doing and we thank Him every day for Fr. Maurice Henry Sands.

Ed and Mary Hepler
St. Alfred Parish, Taylor

What makes Fr. Barnabás G. Kiss and Fr. Angelus Ligeti extra special is that they are deeply spiritual Franciscans who run Holy Cross (Hungarian) Parish in Detroit as well as St. Anthony of Padua Hungarian Parish in Windsor, and in addition, they cover a lot of other ground. They run the St. John Capistrano Youth Foundation in New York City, and the newly dedicated Our Lady of Hungary Chapel in Washington, D.C., was Fr. Barnabás’ special project. There are only three Hungarian-speaking priests in the U.S. right now, so these two are called upon frequently to preach and give retreats elsewhere in the country. They often have to attend meetings in New York City, Toronto, Hungary, and Gyúlafehérvár in the Erdély Province of Romania, and other cities. They have more projects not mentioned here, and they are young senior citizens. When they retire they are not likely to be replaced — so the entire Hungarian community joins me in expressing grateful thanks to God and to them for their uplifting presence and endless services!

Miss Erzsébet Katalin Hilprecht
Holy Cross (Hungarian) Parish, Detroit

We are so blessed to have a very special priest here at St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Birmingham, Ala. Fr. Joseph Culotta has been here for seven years now, and if Bishop Baker moves him, Fr. Joe will become a lot taller. We’ll be holding his feet while the bishop pulls him by the hands. He is, as Bishop Robert Baker said at our last confirmation, a gentle, holy man. Everyone who has ever been sick or shut-in sings his praises as a compassionate and comforting presence. Our children respond to his gentle love with their own love and respect. Our vocations have increased since he’s been at our parish.

One thing he introduced was to have benches placed around the outside of the church building to encourage people to linger before and after Mass and get to know each other better. He always stresses that we are a family of God. Whenever one of us gives him a gift or answers a request for help, there is a prompt, hand-written thank you note from him. Thank you for the opportunity to sing his praises, because you would never learn any of this from him.

Pat Smith
Birmingham, Ala. (formerly of Taylor, Mich.)

Fr. Noel O’Connor, SAC, has been a chaplain at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital for the past year. It took just a short period of time for us to realize what a treasure we have in this priest! Fr. Noel is compassionate, gentle and generous. He has a wonderful sense of humor. He remembers names and easily speaks with any and all — patients and families, visitors in the hallway, volunteers, physicians, staff from all areas of the hospital, and our special needs students from Jo Brighton. In fact, he seems to take great delight in eating lunch with the students. Fr. Noel is so easy to speak with and makes one feel like he has all the time in the world for the person with whom he is speaking. Fr. Noel follows up with some patients after they’re discharged — making visits to their homes or visiting families after a patient has died. When he learned of the death of an employee’s spouse, he went to her home after his shift ended. Fr. Noel has changed the lives of many here at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital. He has a warm heart and smile that he shares every day with all of us. To summarize, what draws people to Fr. Noel’s “light” is his willingness to share of himself. He exemplifies the love and mercy of Jesus. We are truly blessed to have him at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.

Karen Gorski, MA BCC
Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital

Fr. Tony Sulkowski of St. Basil the Great Parish in Eastpointe has the peace, sense of humor, wisdom and positive attitude of someone far beyond his years. I believe that this is in part due to his life experiences. He understands, firsthand, the frustrations and blessings of health challenges from the perspective of care receiver as well as caregiver. He knows that life is short, and each day, each hour, each minute brings us opportunities, gifts and blessings if we are open and willing to recognize and receive them. He lives simply. No parish cook or housekeeper. He accepts people, and life, as they are — not as who or what he wishes they could be. In addition to ministering to the spiritual needs of his parishioners, hospital patients and caregiving families, he can also be found cleaning, emptying trash cans, replacing paper towels and “other” activities as required. Whatever needs to be done for the greater good, he does — with humility, dedication and love. He is the epitome of “faithful servant” and of the existence of angels — and Christ — among us.

Suzanne Szczepanski-White
Grosse Pointe Woods

Archbishop Allen Vigneron is a great archbishop because he loves God. He shows his love for God and other virtues by leading our churches and schools. We are grateful for the time and patience he devotes to our Catholic Church. Through his whole life he has remained faithful to God and waited patiently to become a bishop. He is patient with people, watches out for us, and teaches us to pray for protection from evil. Our archbishop shows justice, peace and joy while leading our Catholic schools and parishes. He shares what he knows with parishioners and priests by teaching all of us about God. He listens to the other bishops, comforts them when needed, and shows joy instead of complaining. He remains faithful to God by praying. He shows the virtue of wisdom with his spiritual gift that allows him to share the purpose of God’s plan with us. He practices the spiritual works of mercy by making sure everyone in the clergy does their job, by giving advice to those who need it, and being merciful to others. We appreciate the many ways Archbishop Vigneron helps us to be better Catholics and grow closer to God.

Students at St. Patrick School, Carleton

I would like to take this opportunity to honor Fr. Greg Rozborski of St. Pio of Pietrelcina Parish in Roseville. We are so happy Fr. Greg has been appointed as pastor of our parish! Besides encouraging us to smile every week, Fr. Greg has gotten to know his flock pretty well in the year we have known him. On several occasions, fellow parishioners have expressed how Fr. Greg has read the pain or suffering on their faces, and has expressed to them when they ask to talk with him that he has been waiting for them to come to him with their problem! Earlier this year, my husband Larry was hospitalized and became very ill and was in the ICU, I approached Fr. Greg with this challenge, and Father said he would go to the hospital the next and not only give the rite of anointing of the sick, but also a “special blessing!” My husband recovered fully and Fr. Greg has told me how much he appreciates and loves the love that we share as a married couple in the church. Fr. Greg has been faced with many challenges from angry parishioners after the blending of three parishes into one. Father has be criticized and disrespected in letters and phone calls, but all in all expresses his love for his people! I know many fellow parishioners agree with me, we love Fr. Greg Rozborski!

Margie Lyle
St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Roseville

I am here to tell that Fr. Edward J. Prus was really important in Recife community’s life. He taught us the meaning of love and brotherhood, and also I thank him because now I can write in English. With love he gave me this gift to learn his idiom.

Cleber Ricardo

Msgr. James Moloney is an extraordinary parish priest. He has served as pastor of St. Anselm Parish in Dearborn Heights since 1978; four generations of our family have been blessed by this good and holy man. Msgr. Moloney visits our parish school every day and refers to the students as his “buckaroos.” As he alks down the aisle after Mass, kids scramble to be on the end of the row so he can give them a fistbump. He could have retired 15 years ago, but has stayed on at St. Anselm, where he is cherished by his parishioners.

Msgr. Moloney also oversees the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, yet he always has time to care for his flock. He even blessed our RV a few years back before we took it on the road. From my grandparents to our own children, we couldn’t ask for a more faithful, inspirational and loving parish priest than Msgr. James A. Moloney.

Michael and Mary Lois Gass

Fr. Joe Mallia is not only the pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Allen Park, but he is also its visionary, spiritual compass, servant and teacher. As Jesus taught us, the best leaders are those who serve and lead by example. Whether it’s his inspiring homilies or his timely response to the needs of his flock, Fr. Joe does just that.

Fr. Joe’s flock includes a grade school and high school as well as aging parishioners and young families. He is the only priest at Cabrini and his weekly duties include daily Masses Monday through Saturday, four weekend Masses and distribution of the sacraments. In addition to his formal commitments, Fr. Joe makes time to have a presence around the parish and community. He visits each classroom at least weekly and regularly attends sporting events and extracurricular activities. He is constantly looking for ways to improve and grow the school, not only in number of students, but to grow the faith of kids and parents alike. Besides his physical energy, Fr. Joe brings his spiritual energy to enliven the community and remind us that we must all go forth as disciples of Christ. Ever welcoming, Fr. Joe also challenges us to follow Church teaching including weekly attendance at Sunday Mass, respecting life, and supporting social justice. He demonstrates these characteristics himself, but admits to not being perfect. Authentic, genuine, caring, conscientious, smart and loving, Fr. Joe provides hope that working together, we can bring about Christ’s kingdom.

Lisa Hecmanczuk
St. Frances Cabrini, Allen Park

We just want to let you know what a blessing Fr. Zbigniew Grankowski (St. Barbara Church, Dearborn) has been in our lives, especially for my younger son and his family. My son met Father at a funeral for his brother-in-law last year and, both impressed and moved by Father’s eulogy, began to attend his church. My son and his family (including a 17-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter) enjoyed attending Father’s Masses and wanted my husband and I to experience Mass with this welcoming, caring, and down-to-earth person. We had the same experience and feelings each time we attended Father’s Masses.

On May 17, we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary at St. Barbara with Fr. Grankowski officiating. Father gave a warm, loving homily and invited our whole family (four married children and 10 grandchildren) onto the altar for a special blessing. Father made the Mass so memorable for all of us. Fr. Grankowski is a one-of-a-kind priest and words cannot describe how he has impacted our lives. We believe that if there were more priests like him, we’d have more people (especially younger ones) in our churches today.

We pray that God continues to bless him and want him to know what a blessing he is in our lives. Thank you Fr. Grankowski!

Tom and Evelyn Evasic and Family
St. Barbara, Dearborn

Fr. Paul Chateau, pastor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in Oak Park, is an attentive shepherd to his flock. He always takes notice of who is at Mass, and he has always managed to give me the exactly right word of encouragement at the right time.

Mary Triggs
Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Oak Park

On Oct. 18, 2015, Msgr. Patrick F. Halfpenny celebrates the 40th anniversary of his ordination. To honor this occasion, I embrace the opportunity to explain why I love my priest. Studying to become a priest did not isolate my brother from the dramas of family life. I enjoyed “bugging” him and he thoroughly enjoyed reciprocating. Frequently he recalls childhood stories about antics with our oldest brother, Michael, and our sister Maureen whom he cherishes because he “prayed for a sister.”

Having a brother in the seminary, we learned not as much about theology as about living life as good followers of Christ. Reconciling earthly family matters with the teachings of Christ can be challenging. Pat practiced setting an example for us. His life choices exemplified tolerance, patience, forgiveness and acceptance. Our parents were (and continue to be) so proud.

With three sons to raise in this world filled with distractions and moral challenges, my husband and I are grateful that Uncle Pat is an active presence in our family; a sign not only of love of family, but love of God. For our sons to have this presence of Christ an integral part of their lives has been profound. We have shared vacations, holidays, birthdays and weddings; lively debates about politics and religion; joys, fears and sorrows. We have shared faith.

In serving God, the parish family comes first. Nevertheless, our family is blessed to experience the gifts of his priesthood and faith shared so lovingly. Thank you, Pat.

Kathy Svoboda

Fr. Paul Snyder came to St. Mary Parish in Royal Oak this past year. As a parishioner and volunteer at the church, I can see how dedicated he is to the church and the people who are a part of it. He is not above cleaning out closets — discarding or recycling unused items — weeding flower beds, and just working hard to get the church organized and restored. He is the most approachable priest I have met in my 50 years of being Catholic, from explaining Scripture or practices of the Catholic Church that are not understood to taking time to talk one-to-one with parishioners who have suggestions or concerns about our church. His compassion and genuineness will take him far, but I hope we can keep him for a while!

Sandra Myers Smith
St. Mary, Royal Oak

Fr. David Lesniak is a truly wonderful man in every way. He gives the best homilies every Sunday and they’re always from the heart — never read off a piece of paper. He is very welcoming and friendly to all and has gone above and beyond not only for my family but for many others. He’s gotten us through births and deaths and just regular days — always reminding us that everything is within God’s plan. You always know you’ve been “to church” when you leave with him. We are very saddened to see him transferred to St. Timothy next week.

Tim, Maya, Ava and Emma Stacy
St. Alphonsus, Dearborn

Fr. Stephen Rooney, pastor of Our Lady on the River Parish, and Fr. Robert Slaton, associate pastor, are two amazing priests, each special in their own way.

Fr. Rooney is a caring priest and it is apparent to me that he cares so much about people. He also has the unique gift of being able to bring out the gifts of other people to serve those in need. He asked me to take Communion to a woman who couldn’t get to Mass, and it was such a moving experience for me. I now take Communion to two homebound people. I would never have thought of doing this if it hadn’t been for Fr. Rooney. He helps us realize our own gifts. This is what I receive from him.

Fr. Slaton, associate pastor of Our Lady on the River Parish, is such a knowledgeable priest. When I hear the Sunday Gospel and then his homily, I always take something from it. He has a gift of conveying what the Gospel is saying and explaining it and connecting it to us. It is also apparent in his actions his love of God and the Church. That is what I receive from him.

Mary Shackett
Our Lady on the River, Marine City

At Immaculate Conception Parish in Ira Township, we are blessed to call Fr. Joseph Esper “our” priest. There are many things about this very humble man that I am appreciative of. I always look forward to his homilies, which begin with a story, and always include a teaching that is worth reflecting upon throughout the week. The enormous amount of time that it must take for Father to prepare for the children’s Mass at Christmas is very appreciated by many. It is brilliantly done in a way that allows children to interact with him through skits, providing lessons for all, while at the same time helping the children to grow in their faith. I appreciate the fact that Fr. Joe takes the time to recognize our parish volunteers, whether it’s during a Mass or in person, even though he is the one who deserves our thanks. The love and devotion that he shows to the children who attend our parish school and faith formation classes is most appreciated. Excitement and smiles from our students always greet Fr. Joe when he enters any of their classrooms. His passion for learning and gift for teaching are well received by our youth, with teenaged graduates of I.C. still singing his praises. Most of all, I am deeply appreciative of the fact that Fr. Joe isn’t afraid to tell us what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear.

Pamela Mertes
Immaculate Conception, Ira Township

Fr. Stanley Pachla pastor of St. Veronica Parish in Eastpointe, is a special blessing in our lives. When Fr. Stan was asked if the parish’s former convent might be available to house a new ministry that would reach out to pregnant teens, he warmly welcomed the idea. This new ministry, Gianna House, would initially open as an outreach, then become a residence for pregnant teens in need of housing, sustenance, education and support. Fr. Stan not only welcomed the idea but has offered assistance in so many ways as Sr. Diane Masson’s dream of ministering to pregnant teens began to take shape. Father made sure that the building was in good repair, joined Gianna House’s board at the encouragement of Sr. Diane, and often spoke to parishioners of this developing ministry and placed articles in the bulletin, which in effect recruited parish support for the developing project. One teen parishioner has sponsored an ongoing diaper collection. Several parishioners responded to Fr. Stan’s article asking for items needed for the vegetable garden that was being planned, such as gardening tools or garden center gift cards. Two parishioners worked on repainting a statue of Mary in the convent’s perennial garden that was taking shape and others helped to keep the garden watered. All reached out to help because of Fr. Stan’s interest in the developing ministry. What a blessing this shepherd at St. Veronica Parish has been!

Gianna House Board of Directors
St. Veronica Parish, Eastpointe

I am a parishioner of St. Mark Parish in Warren. Fr. Stanley Obloj, pastor of St. Mark, has enriched my life and has made me a better Christian. Father always makes everyone feel special; he is a caring, loving, and compassionate person. Father always makes our Mass so meaningful and we are blessed to have him in our lives and our parish. My love and respect for Father continues to grow and I honor him and pray that he will continue his work as our parish pastor.

Antoinette McBain
St. Mark, Warren

It is truly humbling to say that Fr. Stanley Obloj is my priest and pastor. He leads by example — just as Jesus did. Fr. Stanley cares about all of his parishioners — his flock — at St. Mark Parish in Warren. He is kind and compassionate and funny and loving. Even when I lector at Saturday Mass, I come to Sunday Mass as well just to hear Fr. Stanley’s homily again! Regardless of how I may feel coming into Mass, I always leave uplifted and refreshed.

The past year was a difficult one for our family. Fr. Stanley helped me through some major health issues, as well as the sudden deaths of our brother Michael Ayoub and six months later, of our mother, Georgine Ayoub. Father prayed with us, encouraged us, and loved us. I can’t imagine being able to have gone through these tragedies without him. Thank you, Fr. Stanley, for everything you are and do. You truly are a blessing to me!

Janis Ayoub
St. Mark, Warren

Our newest priest here at the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak is Fr. Ryan Adams. Fr. Ryan was ordained in 2014 and was a little nervous at first preaching to the congregation in our octagonal church. But he has become so confident in his preaching, and his homilies are always well prepared. Although Fr. Ryan is in Mexico now for a six-week period of studying Spanish, one of my favorite memories of him was a funeral he celebrated here. The family was overjoyed when he sang “Las Mananitas” in Spanish for their relative. I am sure that he will truly be bilingual upon his return to Michigan.

Rosemary Boutt
National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica, Royal Oak

Why do we love our priest? Who could not love Fr. Zbigniew Grankowski? He is the pastor of St. Barbara in Dearborn and St. Cunegunda in Detroit, who calls his parishioners “my beloved” and is beloved by his parishioners. From his no-fear confessions, healing Masses, to calling his parishioners by their first names, he deserves more than a mere letter of praise and recognition. He is the priest who Pope Francis said, “Go among the parishioners and seek the wounded, make everyone feel welcome, and be a tireless servant,” and Fr. Zbigniew also has brought two parishes together, not closed them. He leads by example and never admonishes; he is a blessing from God to the parishioners at St. Barbara and St. Cunegunda. Fr. Zbigniew is more than just a priest: he is pastor, family and friend.

The Podolskis
St. Barbara and St. Cunegunda, Dearborn and Detroit

Fr. John Hedges has been a priest for 25 years. He has been at several parishes. At each parish he is very effective at preaching, visiting the sick, celebrating the Eucharist, encouraging the youth, evangelizing, working with the poor and more. He has proven to be a good friend for the parishioners as demonstrated by the many Catholics who come to him for assistance in their time of need. He has a very personal and public relationship with Jesus Christ that comprehends the struggles in our personal and private lives between faith and doubt.

Our lives are enriched and deepened through Fr. John’s fidelity to the Church and his reverent celebration of the sacraments and the Eucharist that he demonstrates to the parishioners by his love for the Church and Jesus Christ. He is our example. He takes to heart our joys, sorrows, hopes, fears, triumphs and defeats through prayer and blessings. Father knows his people and exhibits pastoral charity that is essential to priestly credibility.

Fr. John exhibits leadership skills that allow him to collaborate with parishioners along an unbelievable range of competencies. He works lovingly with the highly educated to poorly educated and unskilled volunteers. He empowers them to see beyond their parish boundaries to the betterment of the community and our faith. He does this through his interpersonal skills that convey his vision that allow him to remain grounded in the lives of people and his own humanity.

Fr. John prays with us and listens deeply to God’s Holy Word and to the Church. He comprehends, penetrates, and transforms our culture through his homilies. He honors Catholic tradition and saints and makes this a part of his example and preaching to us. To Father, excellence is not enough. We must attain holiness for ourselves and for our priestly leader to be successful.

Fr. John is mindful of our needs and our capacity to carry on the Catholic tradition. He knows how to cultivate those traditions that are most meaningful to his people. He prays and listens deeply to God’s Holy Word to encourage his flock through its failures, sins, grandeur and beauty. Amen!

Richard Zavodsky
St. Stephen, New Boston

My priest at St. Barbara in Dearborn, Fr. Zbigniew Grankowski, has been a blessing to me when I needed an annulment, and he did everything to see to this. He welcomed my mother when I brought her to visit St. Barbara. He speaks well and tells us how much Jesus loves us and to share his message. Without him there we would be without Jesus in our lives in the Holy Eucharist. His faith and LOVE keeps us coming and we are a beacon of light. Thank you Fr. Zbigniew! I love you!

Sandra Arnaut
St. Barbara, Dearborn

Over 35 years ago at a small parish in Clinton Township named St. Valerie of Ravena, we received a new priest who was energetic, kind, loving and passionate about his faith. He connected with the young and old of our parish. This extraordinary priest is Msgr. Thomas Villerot. He is the most spiritual, selfless and humble man I know. As a teenager, he connected with us in ways that you didn’t see back then. He took interest in our youth group and came to our activities. He kept us interested in our faith. He later retired but continued to celebrate Mass all around the archdiocese. I’m sure he remembers each and every assignment, even at the ripe age of 97! I have lost track of all the wonderful ways he has given to the archdiocese, but in all those places, I know that he has touched many hearts! He developed friendships with so many people it was hard sometimes to schedule a day to take him to dinner. My children have gotten to know and love him over the years, and he looks forward to our visits. He resides at a nursing home in Livonia and still loves celebrating Mass. Since finding out we share the same birthday, it is the first thing on my list of things I want to do for the day, to celebrate with him all these years later! We LOVE you Msgr. Tom!

Bill, Lisa, Emily, Stephanie and Ryan Gray

I met Fr. Robert Bauer at St. Mary, Our Lady Queen of Families Parish in Warren in July 2013. Our first meeting was about my baptism and becoming Catholic. At Easter Vigil 2014, Fr. Bob welcomed me into the Church. In the past two years there have been many changes in my life; my sister was very ill and left at my doorstep, my brother’s suicide and my personal journey of faith. Fr. Bob’s pastoral care and guidance have been invaluable. At Easter Vigil 2015, my sister became Catholic; it was Fr. Bob’s homily about Jesus’ divinity and humanity that first captured my sister’s heart. Fr. Robert Bauer has made a difference with his pastoral care, insightful homilies and love of Jesus and his holy Catholic Church. I remember the first time he said, “Our faith teaches us…” I knew I belonged. Oh, what a blessing! My sister and I are eternally grateful. Thank you, Fr. Bob, for all that you do.

Marlene Johnston
St. Mary, Our Lady Queen of Families, Warren

Fr. Craig Giera had some big shoes to fill when he took over after the death of our beloved Fr. Ron Milligan at St. Ephrem Parish in Sterling Heights. Fr. Craig is just what our parish needed, a breath of fresh air. His homilies are fabulous; his dedication to his vocation is evident in every celebration of the Mass. He is always available to talk or just give you a pat on the back. We still miss Fr. Ron, but God was looking out for us when he sent Fr. Craig. Thank you, Fr. Craig.

Dianne Erhard
St. Ephrem, Sterling Heights

We, the parishioners of St. Mark Parish in Warren, are very blessed to have Fr. Stanley Obloj as our pastor and spiritual leader. My family and I would like to thank Fr. Stanley for bringing the Holy Spirit into our lives and in our parishioners’. He has brought much joy and understanding by the Gospel and by his interpretation of the Gospel in his homilies. Fr. Stanley, we thank you for everything you bring to us in your teachings and your wise words. We also thank you for helping our parish community reflect on the gift of eternal life. Thank you for all your kindness and love. You have made a big difference in the lives of the people of St. Mark. We thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Obloj, for giving us your son. We thank you, Archdiocese of Detroit, for bringing Fr. Stanley to our parish. We thank GOD for Fr. Stanley every single day. Thank you! BOG ZAPLAC!

Raymond and Paulina Miazek
St. Mark, Warren

Far be it from me to think that Fr. Chris Talbot from St. Francis of Assisi-St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Ray Township is the best pastor around, but the truth is the truth. He stretches himself to be able to include all who call upon him for help — spiritually or physically. His ability to all of a sudden “show up” is uncanny; his homilies, which simply strike the right chord, touches our hearts exactly where it is needed. His actions of service inspire all to follow his example — even to take the lead instead of just following. His lead is not always comfortable and he makes me question my own motives — and for all of that, I thank God for Fr, Chris!

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

In July 1979, the parishioners of St. John the Baptist Parish, Dearborn Heights, eagerly awaited the arrival of their new pastor. Fr. Edwin W. Balazy appeared on their doorstep, introduced himself and thus began a relationship that has lasted 36 years. Parishioners were asked recently to share some of their feelings for and opinions of Fr. Ed:

“Fr. Balazy is a very giving and forgiving man. Confession is available six days a week for forgiveness and counsel; and when we have events to help others at our church, the people of St John’s always respond in very generous ways which is a direct reflection on Fr. Ed.”

“He’s there when you need him — humble, selfless. He’s a people-person. He’s a good priest who continues to travel to carry the Holy Eucharist to his parishioners.”

”He has a wonderful sense of humor, always stressing the importance of laughter.”

“He is kind, gentle, generous.”

“He is always ready to help — never too busy for anybody.”

“I always feel so uplifted after Mass.”

“When Father was hurt last year and away from his priestly duties he was overheard to say ‘I’m not taking care of my people.’”

“Fr. Ed is a wonderful and faithful priest. His good nature and humor have been a blessing to our parish!”

Father Ed is the living example of the Good Shepherd in today’s world. He guides his flock, watches over us, and is there when one of us calls out for help. Thirty-six years of guidance, friendship, time and love. Thank You, Fr. Ed. STO LAT!

The Parishioners of St. John the Baptist Parish, Dearborn Heights

It is good to recognize our priests, especially those who go over and above their parish boundaries to help you. About three years ago, I moved to Farmington Hills, and in February of 2014 almost died. Thanks to God and doctors at Botsford, I’m writing to you. Fr. Norman Thomas of Sacred Heart Parish, Detroit, drove many miles on four occasions to give me last rites, hear my confession and bring me holy Communion. He also prayed with my family.

Fr. Alex Kratz, OFM, also came from Berkley and gave me last rites and prayed with my family. Both priests have helped me when my parents and brother passed on with funeral Masses, rosaries at the wakes, etc. They both go out of their way to do Christ’s work and do a lot for the poor. Neither seek recognition. Both live in poverty. Thank you, Fr. Thomas and Fr. Alex.

Christine Girard
Farmington Hills

We’d like to thank Fr. Robert McCabe of St. Pius X Parish in Southgate, a kind and caring individual who greatly helped during a family tragedy.

Though he was 94 years old, the potential loss of the patriarch of our family was no easier to contemplate. It was most difficult when the spiritual adviser of the hospital told us we should discontinue life support. Trying to decide what to do was very difficult – we didn’t want him to suffer, but were we selfish in keeping him alive? Some Internet research found that others who had gone through this process seemed to deeply regret making the choice to discontinue life support.

We decided to talk to Fr. Bob, who essentially said that ending his life was NOT the correct choice. We don’t remember his exact words, but basically Fr. Bob said that if there was any chance of him surviving, he should be given that chance and rather let nature take its course, words that gave a sense of relief, lifting a great weight from our hearts. After we told the hospital to keep trying, it seemed as if they would be successful, but sadly ultimately his heart wasn’t strong enough to go on and we lost him – a loss easier to accept because we knew we did all we could to try and help him.

Fr. Bob’s advice was very comforting and reassuring. We do not have to feel the regret of prematurely ending Dad’s life.

The Schwarcz family

Our priest, Fr. Denis Theroux from Our Lady of Victory Parish in Northville, is the most nicest priest in the world. Do you want to know why? Well, he has M.S. and he participates in every Mass at OLV. He also knows every single student’s name at OLV. He cares for everybody even if they’re sick and wounded, poor or rich, tomboy or princess, or loved or hated.

Jillian Rae G.
Second grade
Our Lady of Victory School, Northville

Our priest, Fr. Denis Theroux from Our Lady of Victory Parish in Northville, is the best priest ever because he cares for everyone. He knows all our names. He takes time off to come in the hall in the morning to see us. He makes Mass really special. He prays for everyone. He has headaches and still comes to church for us. He tells good stories. I hope you like Fr. Denis.

Alexa D.
Second grade
Our Lady of Victory School, Northville

Our priest is Fr. Denis Theroux from Our Lady of Victory Parish in Northville. I’m going to tell you about my favorite priest. He is a really good one. I think he is a good priest because he cares about everyone. I also think he is a pretty good one because he gives hugs to everyone no matter if it’s a boy or girl or if it’s the sick or healthy. He loves everyone no matter who it is. I like him a lot.

Abigail B.
Second grade
Our Lady of Victory School, Northville

Fr. David Lesniak is a man of God and has done so much for our beloved St. Alphonsus Parish in Dearborn. He had the altar painted and everyone is awestruck by its beauty. He does daily Mass, which is rare anymore. He visits the homebound weekly and when called, rushes to the bedside of the dying, even those who are not members of the parish. His sermons touch the very core of our hearts. I can’t tell you the number of people who came back to the Church because of Fr. Lesniak. He greets us all entering the Church and upon dismissal he addresses as many parishioners as he can on his way back down the aisle. When we were told Fr. Lesniak was being assigned to another parish, his parishioners were, and still are, very upset. Parishioners wept openly at his last Mass here at St. Alphonsus.

To quote Dickens, no matter what, we will not shut out the lessons that have been taught to us. With or without Fr. Lesniak, we pray that our parish will live on and thrive. As a parish, we will do our best to remember all that Fr. Lesniak taught us, to continue to grow as a people of faith, and we are so much better as a parish because of his leadership, guidance and friendship. We will do our best to continue his mission and grow this parish and continue to do work in God’s name.

And so, while there are NO words to convey our gratitude to Fr. Lesniak for all he has done, we want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Fr. Lesniak, the St. Alphonsus Parish family wants you to know how special you are to us, how thankful we are to God that He gave us such a wonderful priest, even for such a short while, and we pray God continues to bless you.

Parishioners of St. Alphonsus Church, Dearborn

When Fr. Stanley Obloj came to St. Mark Parish in Warren in 2012, we immediately knew we were receiving a wonderful blessing. From the beginning he has always made our family feel as if he had known us for a very long time. My very special memory is when he baptized my great-niece, Addison, and not too many weeks later celebrated the funeral Mass for my father, Salvatore. He mentioned that Addison was my dad’s great-granddaughter in his homily. The way that he personalizes his homilies is a very special gift to all of us. God bless you Fr. Stanley for all of the blessings you bring to our parish and to our family. Please never lose that special attention that you give to all of us.

Robert and Christine Phillips and family
St. Mark, Warren

Fr. Aaron DePeyster, pastor of St. Sebastian Parish in Dearborn Heights, is a true representation of what it would be like to have Jesus as a pastor. Fr. Aaron says the Mass with such genuine reverence, passion, love, joy and enthusiasm, slowly and deliberately, so we can hear every word, which helps us to appreciate the Mass as the Holy Sacrifice it really is.

Fr. Aaron is a humble, good and kind priest, who is gentle, loving, caring, understanding, patient, empathetic and compassionate! He has such integrity and honesty and this genuine childlike innocence about him whenever he speaks to you! Fr. Aaron is known for always saying: “Don’t worry. It will be OK.” You know that Fr. Aaron believes it, so you believe it, too!

Fr. Aaron is also a strong spiritual leader and teacher who is very brave and courageous and will speak out to his parishioners at Mass, whenever necessary, about the current events affecting our Catholic faith, in his quest to get all of our souls to heaven!

Fr. Aaron always makes the time to hear a person’s confession whenever they ask him. Fr. Aaron brought me back to my Catholic faith from a very dark place, and he continues to help me through spiritual guidance. Fr. Aaron has made such a difference in my life and in the lives of countless others! I am so grateful and thankful to God for this very special priest, and we are so blessed to have him as our pastor!

Irene Nowak
St. Sebastian, Dearborn Heights

I am a member of St. Cunegunda in Detroit and St. Barbara in Dearborn, and I will love to share with all of you why Fr. Zbigniew Grankowski is so special for my family.

Fr. Zbigniew, besides being my pastor, is my spiritual father. Since my kids made their first Communion 10 years ago, he has showed so much interest in my family’s spiritual life, he planted God’s seed in my heart and every day at church, he continues watering with all his love and care. Father makes everything special; we just recently celebrated my kids’ 18th and 16th birthdays, and the celebration he did for us was amazing. We come from Mexico City, and he welcomes all the traditions from our countries and that is important for us because he makes it feel like home, close to my real father that is far away from us. Fr. Zbigniew is always ready to listen and guide you on God’s path. He can be strict when necessary just like a father should be, but lovely and with open hands like God asks us to be. Thanks to him I got married by the Church and since that day he makes sure I get closer and closer to God by inviting me to participate as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and also as lector, thanks to those services my responsibility and love to God continues growing daily.

Father is a blessing in our churches. We recently found out he may be moved to a different church, and we all felt very sad, but thankful for all he has done for us. We will continue praying to God so Father doesn’t have to leave us, but I am sure if God’s will and the Holy Spirit needs him to go somewhere else it is because St. Barbara and St. Cunegunda churches are strong in faith and work good together as one family. He help us to be united and teaches how to love each other as God asks us to do; he teaches us how to respect each other without looking at the language we speak, the country we come from or the color of our skin. But most important is to bring kids and teenagers close to God, by making his Sunday celebration for them by sitting on the floor with the kids to get on kids’ level when preaching God’s love. Fr. Zbigniew has welcome arms for all the children even if they are crying; his arms gave them comfort.

For this and for a lot more reasons, I love Fr. Zbigniew as my priest, my guide and my spiritual father

Irma Veronica Pina
St. Barbara and St. Cunegunda parishes, Dearborn and Detroit

We are thankful to have Fr. John Dumas as our parish priest because he helps us learn about God. He has devoted his life to the Catholic Church and made many sacrifices to help us grow in faith. He cares about everyone in our school and parish. He asks us questions in his homilies and encourages us to participate during Mass. He shows kindness by saying “Hello” to us. He uses his wisdom to teach us and guide us on our path to heaven. He visits the sick and gives the anointing of the sick sacrament. If someone dies, he has the funeral Mass and goes to the cemetery for the burial. At confession he forgives our sins. We pray with Fr. John and he helps us understand the importance of our guardian angel. When he consecrates the host, he does it with great joy and respect. He shows patience by not rushing Mass. Fr. John is very holy and faithful to God. He does not turn away from God and his love for God inspires us to pray more and live the Gospel message.

Students at St. Patrick School, Carleton

We are fortunate at St. Mark Parish in Warren to have Fr. Stanley Obloj as our pastor and shepherd. He leads us by providing many opportunities for spiritual growth. His homilies are inspirational and thoughtful, which remind us of God’s presence in our lives. He stresses the importance of reconciliation and reception of the Eucharist. I appreciate the opportunity to serve daily Mass, funerals, and other liturgical devotions with him. May the good Lord continue to bless you in your ministry.

Ed Podgorny
St. Mark, Warren

What makes Fr. Bryan Shackett special to me, besides the fact that he is my son, is his love of God and his total dedication to God and his faith. He has enriched my life and his family’s lives. His theological conversations have deepened the faith of his family. Even though Fr. Bryan has only been a priest a little over a year and is the second-youngest priest in the archdiocese, I am always so impressed with his knowledge of Church history. I see the smile on his face and realize that he is truly following the path that God has chosen for him. That is what makes Fr. Bryan, my son, special to me.

Lawrence Shackett Jr.
Marine City

We have been very fortunate at St. Valentine Parish and Our Lady of Loretto Parish, both in Redford Township, to have wonderful Pallottine priests from India leading our parishes in recent years. Currently, Fr. Socorro Fernandes, SAC, pastor, and Fr. Hendrico Rebello, SAC, associate pastor, are serving our parishes and are truly blessings in so many ways. They celebrate Mass so devoutly and beautifully proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ by their words and actions every day. In the past, Fr. Suresh Rajaian, SAC, (currently in the Cayman Islands) and Fr. Kishore Battu, SAC, now at St. Michael the Archangel in Livonia, were assigned to St. Valentine. They also have been wonderful blessings to our faith community and are dearly missed. We are so grateful that these men leave their families, friends and country to help us. We love and appreciate our Pallottine priests!

Raymond Mote
Redford Township

Our pastor, Fr. David Lesniak, has been at St. Alphonsus in Dearborn for more than 11 years. He takes a genuine interest in his parishioners and even their extended families and makes a point of greeting all who came to Mass. He is sincerely happy that we are there and glad to see us. He leads us in hymns at weekday Mass unaccompanied whether in English, Italian, Latin, or Polish and makes sure we are all in key. His kindness and generosity extends to all and he makes a point to visit all who were sick whether at home, or in the hospital. Fr. Lesniak has guided us through the merger process with our neighboring parish, St. Clement. And now that we are merged he has been assigned to be pastor at St. Timothy in Trenton. He will be greatly missed by the parishioners of St. Alphonsus and we hope that the parishioners at St. Timothy will come to love him as much as he was loved here.

Barbara Bechard
St. Alphonsus Church, Dearborn

As a member of the former Our Lady of Lourdes Church in River Rouge, which went through an extremely painful merger process with St. Francis Xavier Church in Ecorse to become St. Andre Bessette Parish, I am convinced that God blessed us by sending us Fr. Cornelius Okeke. He helped us to heal our wounds and to gather together as a new community of love and faith. He helped us to look forward instead of backward, without losing our former identities but instead merging them into one family. He led us in rebuilding our parish into a home that speaks to each of us of God’s will for us in our lives. Fr. Okeke is the most joy-filled person I have ever met, and he strives to communicate that joy and God’s love to each of us. He uses humor and love to reach out to our congregation, to express how much our God loves us and how we can reach out to God and accept that love. His faith is evident in all he does and he sets a wonderful example for us of how to live our lives here on earth. I thank God for his abundant blessing in sending us such a wonderful pastor. I pray that we are able to continue to grow with his guidance and love for many, many more years to come. Thanks be to God for giving us the gift of Fr. Okeke!

Denise Balogh

To Fr. Greg Tokarski, our pastor at Mother of Divine Mercy Parish in Detroit and Sweetest Heart of Mary Church: We are so blessed to have you at our church, and at St. Josaphat and St. Joseph Church. You have a great smile and the parish is looking great. We have altar boys, uses, Knights of Columbus and the Knights of St. John. A Ladies Guild, and, yes, we do make pierogies all year for our festival. Fr. Greg has a big job, but he is doing great. May our Sweetest Heart of Mary be with you always.

We also need to remember Fr. Mark Borkowski, who was our pastor and loved by our parish. Fr. Mark, we still say the stations “Mary’s Ways” and many people come during Lent. So many memories you have left with us. I thank you, and we do miss you. May our Sweetest Heart of Mary be with you always. We miss you, Fr. Mark Borkowski.

Dorothy Valvano

Thank you, Fr. Bob McCabe, for all that you do for the families of St. Pius X Parish and school. Your time and dedication is greatly appreciated!

James Guyette
St. Pius X, Southgate

Priests are indeed a blessing to our Church and our congregations. When filled with spirituality, generosity of spirit and humility, they inspire us to become better Catholics and to carry our faith out into an often-hostile world. One such priest, Fr. Brian Chabala, has been pastor of many parishes throughout his 38 years of priesthood. With each assignment he brings a sense of joy, delight, compassion, faith-filled preaching and a welcome sense of humor to his parishioners. Those who have witnessed his ministry are forever grateful that he touched their lives during ordinary as well as extraordinary life experiences. In observing him over the years, I am consistently inspired and impressed by his service and connection to people of all backgrounds. Always, always there is the presence of Christ’s love in his heart and that presence is willingly shared with all through his actions toward them. Seldom do we find someone who so wonderfully and lovingly embraces and lives his vocation. Having said this, Fr. Brian has never actually been my pastor … but I feel deeply blessed to call him “friend” since childhood.

Claudia Williams

As a PIME missionary priest, Fr. Giancarlo Ghezzi could have chosen to serve in a distant land again. But, we were very blessed to have him choose to serve as our pastor at All Saints Parish in southwest Detroit. Father brushed up on his Spanish so he could minister to our parishioners who are of Mexican descent. He is a very devout priest and very humble, with a great sense of humor. At our recent parish festival, Father was an active participant. For example, he took part in the cake walk; he didn’t win! Also, we noticed a large cat walking around the parish grounds, and it was Father with his face painted like a cat! Because he is so down-to-earth, he makes the parishioners feel at ease. He is very approachable and we are very happy he is our pastor.

Betty Hegedus

I am a member of St. Thecla Parish in Clinton Township, but between 2003-10, I worked with Fr. Tim Birney and Fr. Jim Lopez as a pre-marital counselor at Holy Cross, St. Catherine and St. Mark churches in Marine City. It was one of the most rewarding professional experiences I have had since becoming a licensed professional counselor in 1990. Both men have moved on to new assignments: Fr. Tim is director of priestly vocations, and Fr. Jim is administrator at St. Damian Parish, but the seven combined years I worked side-by-side with them have enriched my faith in all matters related to Church and family.

During the pre-marital preparation, every couple got to hear how the Church values and appreciates family. Marriage is a sacrament, and deciding to receive this sacrament comes with responsibilities. Raising children, resolving conflict, communication skills, managing money and practicing a faith-based lifestyle were but a few topics of discussion as couples prepared to get married. It was more important than preparing for just the wedding day. Managing a lifetime together trumps one special day getting married.

As the Catholic Church grows, and has family linked to its growth, it was comforting to hear Frs. Tim and Jim share their values and beliefs to the couples who were preparing to embark on that journey. It was an honor to work with both priests and to reinforce their values to each and every couple who wanted to participate in the sacrament of marriage at Holy Cross, St. Catherine and St. Mark churches. Thank you!

Mark Rogers, LPC, LBSW
Fair Haven

Fr. Aaron DePeyster became the shepherd to St. Sebastian Parish, Dearborn Heights, in July 2011. Through his vocation he brings to the community a 21st century St. John Vianney. His constant reference to confession (sacrament of mercy) and his availability to anyone at any time has been admirably encountered any day of the week. In Fr. Aaron there is a simple sincerity and devotion to taking God’s message to His flock. A priest is one who offers sacrifice. Fr. Aaron does this in the Holy Mass, when he re-presents the sacrifice of Calvary to the Father. Fr. Aaron also offers himself to others. Father serves and does not seek to be served! Somehow he is able to accomplish in a 24-hour day what measures up to much more for most of us! He has managed a fairly large parish, a Catholic school, and the diverse needs of both. We love you, Fr. Aaron and pray God will give you the help you need. God Bless!

Parishioners of St. Sebastian Parish
Dearborn Heights

Thank you, Fr. Michael Zuelch, for coming to our parish, St. Mary in St. Clair. Your reverent celebration of the Mass inspires young and old alike to strive for heaven. Your homilies are edifying and you make it known by your words and actions that your mission as a priest is the salvation of our souls. Your support of our parish school is wonderful and you have given the young men in our parish who may be contemplating the priesthood a great role model to follow. You play a great game of “hocker” and you’re pretty good on the softball diamond, too. We hope you stay at our parish for a long time!

Mark Kehoe
St. Clair

Fr. Bill Tindall personifies what a good priest and pastor should be. He works so hard to shepherd the people of St. Michael Parish in Livonia. He is there whenever we need him, and is such an excellent guardian of our parish resources. We are ever so blessed to have him.

Our entire parish community has reaped so many benefits from having Fr. Kishore Battu among us as well, but in particular our elementary school children have had the wonderful experience of enjoying his joyful, affirming spirit. His caring nature is evident in the homilies he so painstakingly prepares both for routine liturgies and special occasions like funerals and baptisms. He is truly an asset to our parish.

Carolyn Utter
St. Michael Parish, Livonia

We want to thank Fr. Ron Babich for the 20 years of his dedication and service to the parishioners of Our Lady Queen of All Saints, Fraser. Fr. Ron managed to keep the parish debt-free; he had a love for the Blessed Mother and built an outdoor shrine in her honor. He stressed the importance of families holding on to their traditions and values. He also left a lasting impression on our children. Good Friday, Easter and Christmas Mass brought us closer to the life of Christ. Lastly but not least, Fr. Ron could bake awesome cakes. We could never thank Fr. Ron enough!

After Our Lady Queen of All Saints, closed we attended Mass at St. Isaac Jogues in St. Clair Shores, and
Fr. Darrell Roman welcomed us with open arms. Thank you, Fr. Darrell.

The Radvansky and Dayble family
Our Lady Queen of All Saints, Fraser

We have been abundantly blessed to have two amazing priests leading the flock at Holy Cross Hungarian Roman Catholic Church in Detroit, both are Franciscan Friars: our pastor, Fr. Barnabas Kiss, OFM, and our associate pastor, Fr. Angelus Ligeti, OFM.

This year, 2015, was the 110th anniversary of the founding of our parish and the 90th anniversary of the building our beautiful church. In that spirit, this is the perfect time to recognize these two fine men who have dedicated their lives to God. Both friars are stewards of our church and its surrounding grounds; the church was built 90 years ago by faithful Hungarian families, many newly arriving from the old country with a shared goal of building a place of worship for Hungarian Catholics. The friars have continued that tradition with a weekly Mass in the Hungarian language (in addition to celebrating Mass in English). They also celebrate the Hungarian culture, enjoyed by the many Hungarian Catholics and those of us of Hungarian descent, who attend Holy Cross. They are special men, both caretakers of this church and of the people who belong here. Fr. Barnabas is normally the celebrant at the weekly Mass that we attend, and his insightful homilies focus on the Scripture and its place in our world today. He is a brilliant homilist. His words are meaningful and uplifting and get us through the week, Sunday to Sunday. Our friars are a blessing to so many. We are very grateful for both of them.

Joseph and Cheryl Kizner
Holy Cross Hungarian Roman Catholic Church, Detroit

It is with great pleasure and honor that I write this correspondence on behalf of St. Mark Parish and Fr. Stanley Obloj. As a St. Mark Parish member for almost 40 years, I have experienced, firsthand, the service of numerous priests. However, I have never been magnetized to a priest until Fr. Stanley came along. He is a true, living example of a priest, who has gained the love, respect and admiration of the faithful people he serves on a regular basis. Fr. Stanley has had an extremely positive and direct impact on my life. For example, he has inspired me to attend Mass on a regular basis, due to his phenomenal and engaging homilies, become a liturgical minister and Eucharistic minister, volunteer at various parish activities and join parish committees. Although I have only known Fr. Stanley for less than five years, I honestly feel like I have known him my whole life. He is so easy to talk to, even when face-to-face in the confession room, always makes time to exchange in conversation, goes above and beyond to acknowledge a job well done and has an AWESOME sense of humor. With that being said, there are NOT enough words to express how much I admire Fr. Stanley, as a priest and a person, along with how fortunate our parish is to have him as our leader. Fr. Stanley will occupy a place in my heart forever and I am so thankful for his presence and guidance, which has strengthened my spiritual journey.

Heidi L. South
St. Mark Parish, Warren

It is almost impossible to use only 250 words to describe our incredible pastor, Fr. Cornelius Okeke at St. Andre Bessette Parish in Ecorse. He is a true shepherd of God and lives the Gospel of love. To him the priesthood is a calling from God, not a career choice or 9-5 job. He is always available to anyone who needs him and he greets everyone, personally, before each Mass. Before his homily, he always asks if we have any visitors and he walks around asking their name and where they came from. Immediately afterward, he begins, and we join in, our parish welcome song, “You are welcome in the name of the Lord.” Our parish, led by our pastor, welcomes each and every new person who walks through our doors and helps make them feel at home. Fr. Okeke attends every parish function … and we have many! He has his face painted at our festival, keeping the children enthralled, and dances the polka with the grandmas. His kindness, love and compassion know no bounds. He is never too rushed to listen, too busy to make time, or too tired to be available. We know he cares and loves each one of us as lambs given to him by God to shepherd. We are blessed to have him as our pastor. We live in Warren and drive 45 minutes — one way — to get to Ecorse for Mass each week … and we truly can’t wait to get there! Friends and family question our decision to drive that far to make St. Andre Bessette our parish home. We tell them that Fr. Okeke fills us each week with the Spirit of the Gospel and we truly feel we’ve had Jesus touch our lives after every Mass.

Mary and Betty Moroz

Fr. Norman Thomas definitely deserves recognition in the upcoming Priesthood Sunday edition. I’ve been knowing Father since 1968 when he became the pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Detroit. He is a loving and caring priest with a heart of gold. He helps parishioners and the community of Detroit by getting involved. There is no one like him that can manage and maintain two churches and be involved in many organizations. This is one priest who cannot be replaced by his good deeds.

Father feeds, clothes the poor, the homeless and is on call 24/7 to anoint the sick. He gives scholarships for people to continue their education. When you need help with bills, he is there to give a helping hand. Every time I am in the hospital, this holy priest comes in to anoint me and listen to pains of my life journey. He has so much heart and wisdom to give. He is a blessing to me and everyone he comes in contact with.

Fr. Thomas has been and always will be a special blessing to me. He is the reason I became a Eucharistic minister and to serve God. What an honor to serve along with Fr. Norman Paul Thomas. Watching him all these years is the reason I love giving my time providing Communion and prayer to many hospitals of the sick. He is a committed Catholic priest. I am so proud to have him in my life. He has watched me grow from a little girl to a woman of faith. No matter what I am going through, he is always by my side. I appreciated everything he has done for me. Fr. Thomas is greatly loved and respected by parishioners and the community.

I am praying to God every day that Fr. Norman Paul Thomas is recognized in The Michigan Catholic Priesthood Sunday edition because he deserves it. He deserves it. He deserves it. Lord, he deserves it. Amen.

Francesca Freeman
Sacred Heart Church, Detroit

We would like to express our appreciation and gratitude for our priest, Fr. Theodore Parker of St. Charles Lwanga Parish in Detroit. We have gone through the difficult process of merging two parishes into one and Fr. Parker’s steady, kind and patient guidance has helped to ease the transition. He understood all the questions and concerns that arose along the way and ensured that there were opportunities and forums to address them. Fr. Parker listened to all points of view with compassion and understanding as he led us in our new direction. Most important to us, under his guidance we were inspired to view the merger not as a loss, but as a gain of a new opportunity for a more vibrant parish with new possibilities. Thank you, Fr. Parker, for everything you do. We truly appreciate you.

Suzanne Ignatius and Mike Norris
St. Charles Lwanga Parish, Detroit

Fr. Stanley Obloj is a great source of inspiration for both of us. He is a man of deep faith in the Lord and we are drawn in toward God through his aura. As a spiritual leader, Fr. Stanley has been working on finding a better way through his words, prayers and actions to lead us in worship for the glorification of God! He has been and continues to be a beautiful guiding light for our life’s journey. Thank you Fr. Stanley.

Alan and Susan Ayoub
St. Mark Parish, Warren

Active-duty service in the U.S. Army comes with living under unique circumstances. For example, you can expect to relocate every two to three years. Your family, a house that you own, current residence, “home of record,” car registration, driver’s license, area code, etc., could each be in a different state. New churches, new schools, new streets; basically, America is home.

As an on-the-go Army major, I’m obviously blessed to have the support of citizen patriots like Fr. Zbigniew Grankowski, longtime and beloved pastor of St. Barbara Church in Dearborn. Fr. Zbigniew readily opened his formidable heart and arms to me upon my request from South Carolina to receive the sacrament of marriage in his parish community in 2016.

I deeply appreciate the servant leadership of Fr. Zbigniew Grankowski. Life’s leaders like him provide us with the purpose and motivation that we need to be better followers of Christ, neighbors and citizens. I seek to emulate his and the pope’s “everyman” approach to life.

I see clearly God’s and the Church’s love through the helping hand of Fr. Zbigniew. I know that my fiancee Emily, and my mother and aunt, all of Michigan, are so thankful for his blessing as well. How lucky can one guy be? What more could I ask from a loving God as I navigate through life’s complexities? What a time to be alive and a Catholic! Rest assured I will do my very best to make my exceptional priest proud.

Major Joseph A. Cosci, Jr.
U.S. Army Cyber Command
Ft. Belvoir, Virginia

I know it said to write a note, but we did a Letterman top 10! Top 10 things we love about Fr. Joe Esper:

No. 10: He is an author of hymns and books.
No. 9: He is smart, creative, and talented.
No. 8: He writes interesting stories.
No. 7: He plays games with students.
No. 6: He makes everyone feel good about themselves.
No. 5: He has creative and interesting homilies.
No. 4: He always positive and smiling.
No. 3: He is very fun.
No. 2: He is sweet, generous caring and comforting.
And the number one reason we love Fr. Joe… (drum roll please!)
No. 1: He makes us happy to be Catholic!

God Bless,

Lawrence Ricard
Immaculate Conception Catholic School, Ira Township

I would love to praise my priest Fr. Cornelius Okeke from St. Andre Bessette in Ecorse. Fr. Okeke is the best; you see the love that he has for Jesus Christ and he inspires others to encounter that love as well. Fr. Okeke can make you cry because he’s helped you realize that in any type of situation we encounter ourselves we are not alone; we just need to open our hearts to God. Then in the next moment he lifts us up in song to remind us we should be joyful in praising our God. He shows compassion, laughter, joy and love in all that he does for our parish. For the first time in many years Fr. Okeke has helped me actually connect what the Scriptures are saying and see the connection in my daily life. I haven’t felt that connection in years. I thank my Fr. Okeke for his great leadership and for inspiring all of us to deepen our relationship with God. He truly is a wonderful blessing to our parish and is loved by all.

Rita Castorena
St. Andre Bessette Parish, Ecorse

He borrowed the words of one of the most loved and cherished priests of our archdiocese (the late Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw): “Hi, my name is George. I’m here to be your waiter.” Just transpose that to be servant. I’m writing about Fr. George Charnley, retired clergy, but still assisting at St. Kenneth Catholic Community in Plymouth. While our parish was experiencing a traumatic crisis in pastoral leadership last fall, Fr. George’s unflappable presence (like Jesus with his Apostles on the Sea of Galilee in the storm) was there. His down-to-earth calmness helped us weather this situation. He always reminded us to turn to the Lord. His humbleness and sincerity during Mass shows his humaness, especially during the Confiteor, warms my heart — he shows that he is one of us. Fr. George is always present before and after Mass, greeting the congregation, sharing in everyday life experiences. In fact, he was at the parish picnic playing “waiter” — serving up the baked potatoes! Thank you, Fr. George, for going over and beyond your retirement years to share with us the gift of your priesthood — a true servant and “waiter” of Christ!

John and Diane Guzik

Being a pastor of a large parish with a school is a large responsibility. The pastor is basically the CEO who has to be mindful of the business to ensure that the parish survives and thrives. When Msgr. G.M. Bugarin came to St. Joan of Arc in St. Clair Shores, he had a business to learn and great number of parishioners and staff demanding his attention.

During the past 11 years, Msgr. Mike has not only been able manage the responsibilities of the parish but has developed a personal relationship with the parishioners. People look for the “big guy” whenever they are at church, in the gathering space, attending school functions and sports activities. He “high fives” the children and teens, he goes to the hospital in the middle of the night, he visits with parishioners after Mass in the gathering space, he even fixes computers in his “spare” time.

He is present in his parish. It is obvious that Msgr. Mike has grown to love St. Joan of Arc.

A parishioner and a mom
St. Joan of Arc Parish, St. Clair Shores

We would like to acknowledge how blessed and grateful we are to have Fr. Zbigniew Grankowski as our beloved pastor at St. Cunegunda Church in Detroit. He is the most devoted, spiritual, humble, warm-hearted, hard-working and giving priest we have ever met. As pastor of two clustered parishes, St. Cunegunda and St. Barbara, he is a very busy priest, but he ALWAYS has time for us to share in our family’s happy moments in life or provide us with comfort and strength during life’s darkest moments.

As members of several churches during the course of our marriage, we have known many pastors by name but none knew us by name. That is until we met Fr. Zbigniew. His parishioners are his family and he desires to know us individually. He always has a welcoming hug and warm smile for us. He truly exemplifies what it means to be a “Good Shepherd.” Fr. Zbigniew is a gifted speaker and his homilies are very inspirational for us. Being a man of action, he also teaches us as much by example as by word. Today, we are stronger in our faith than ever before. He keeps our hearts on fire for God!

We deeply cherish having Fr. Zbigniew as our pastor. He really is the ultimate epitome of what a priest should be — a true representative of Christ. Our love, respect, and gratitude for him will always remain endless. Thank you, Fr. Zbigniew, from the bottom of our hearts for all that you are and do for us. We love you so much!

Robert and Theresa Hebda

He’s back! And we are so happy and glad! I’m referring to our pastor, Fr. Tom Belczak of St. Kenneth Catholic Community in Plymouth. He is the dynamo of a viable, energetic Christian community in Western Wayne County. We’ve only been members of our parish for three years, but we’ve noticed a vibrancy that I haven’t seen for a while in churches in this area. Fr. Tom relates well to all ages: the young and the old, and in between. He always welcomes very warmly and sincerely new parishioners and visitors at the beginning of Mass. People felt his aura and our parish has been growing by leaps and bounds! In his homilies, Fr. Tom stresses that we must put Jesus’ words into action — that can be seen in the tremendous Christian outreach practiced at St. Ken’s: the Sunday food drives, the giving tree at Christmas, prayer ministry for the sick and so much more. Father shows us that he, too, is an active member of this Catholic community by actively participating in the Lenten fish fries, church picnic, and ice cream social, to name a few. Laughter is good for the soul, and Fr. Tom has been blessed with that gift and he generously shares it with us along with his great sense of humor! Fr. Tom suffered as Christ and rose above adversity with the help of the power of his parish’s prayer. We thank you for being an example of perseverance, Fr. Tom, and for coming back to us!

John and Diane Guzik in Livonia

Fr. James Arwady has taken on his first pastorate as the pastor of St. Christopher Parish, Marysville. Fr. James has demonstrated by his attitude and actions that he is a priest dedicated to the Church and to our Lord, Jesus Christ. He is courageous in that he has not been afraid to implement changes in the parish that will help us to better know and understand the teachings of the Church and how it applies to our lives. He delivers excellent homilies as he brings to life the Gospel and the correlates the Gospel to other Scriptures and their application to our lives. He is open to and available to people. In this short period of time, he has endeared himself to the parishioners with his quick smile and his self-effacing sense of humor. As a brand new pastor, Fr. James is making his way into the minds and hearts of those he serves. We, his parishioners are most fortunate to have Fr. James Arwady as the pastor of St. Christopher Parish in Marysville.

Joe and Marilynn Pavlov

St. Linus Catholic School in Dearborn Heights is beyond blessed to have Fr. Paul Ballien as our pastor. His energy, leadership and support breathe life through our building. Fr. Paul is a visible member of our school community. On any given weekday, he enters the lunchroom carrying his Phineas and Ferb lunchbox to applause and cheers usually reserved for concerts or sporting events. (This might be because he often brings treats to share.) He spends the 40-minute period visiting with students and genuinely getting to know them. In the last few years, one of the most highly anticipated events is our Halloween Trunk N Treat. Of course, the kids love the candy, but the real draw is Fr. Paul’s amazing costumes! Father is also seen sporting his Red Hawk gear at many of our students’ sporting events.

Fr. Paul is committed to modeling discipleship. Despite his incredibly busy schedule as pastor and vicar, he clears time to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation on a request basis. This not only demonstrates to the children how vital the sacraments are; it also demonstrates Fr. Paul’s commitment to forming disciples. Our pastor is a vocal supporter of Catholic education and furthers our mission daily. We truly appreciate all the energy and strength in faith that he invests in our community.

The St. Linus Catholic School Community
Dearborn Heights

Since joining Archbishop Vigneron’s home parish, Immaculate Conception in Ira Township, in 2004, we have been blessed with wonderful spiritual leadership by Fr. David Burgard, Fr. Tomek Maka and currently Fr. Joseph Esper. These fine men have provided our family with countless, and I truly mean countless, selfless offerings of love, friendship, guidance and wisdom, all from their hearts, which are full of the Holy Spirit. Personally, as a 50-something-year-old man, and understanding the culture in which we live, these fine men of God truly put Christ first in everything they do, and it is nothing short of amazing that they are able to have the profoundly positive impact that they do in the world in which we live. Now more than ever, evil is lurking around every corner, but with devoted men of Christ like Fr. David, Fr. Tomek and Fr. Joe, it gives my family and me the strength to live the words of Joshua 24:15: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” And may God continue to richly bless Archbishop Allen Vigneron for assigning these fine men to our parish, and for the wonderful leadership of his flock, the AOD.

The Wooten Family
Immaculate Conception Parish, Ira Township

We are very blessed to have Fr. Raymond H. Bucon, as our pastor at St. Sabina Church in Dearborn Heights. He uplifts us spiritually and helps us remember our humanness and strengths, and encourages us to overcome life’s situations with faith and grace. Fr. Ray Bucon recently received the Legion of Merit Award, one of the highest awards given in the U.S. Army, for exceptionally meritorious service culminating in a 26-year career as Colonel and Brigade Chaplain. Colonel Bucon demonstrated loyalty, unwavering professionalism, steadfast initiative, selfless service and unfailing devotion to duty, which earned him the supreme respect of the soldiers and families he served. Fr. Ray served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and upon his return was assigned to train chaplains across the country in Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome for returning soldiers and their families. He is also the official chaplain for our Dearborn Heights Police and Fire Department. He has a wealth of understanding and compassion, and has helped so many souls. He is our hero, and we respect and admire him beyond words. Thank you, Fr. Ray Bucon, for being our very humble pastor at St. Sabina Church in Dearborn Heights, and for your incredible service to our parish, and to God and country.

Grateful parishioner
St. Sabina Parish, Dearborn Heights

The St. Charles Lwanga Parish family in Detroit would like to congratulate Fr. Theodore K. Parker on the extraordinary work he has done to merge two distinct parishes (St. Leo and St. Cecilia) into one whole family. He continues to work effortlessly to unite us in our endeavors for the continuous building of our community, which has fallen upon hard times. Fr. Parker is one of a kind and we are appreciative of all that he has done and will continue to do for the praise and glory of God and His Church.

The St. Charles Lwanga Parish family

The students in the faith formation program at Immaculate Conception Parish in Ira Township would like to thank Fr. Joseph M. Esper for being our pastor. Several grades contributed to this letter of gratitude.

Fr. Joe is a compassionate, kind and caring person. He always takes time to listen to grownups and kids, he treats us all the same. When Fr. Joe tells jokes, he always makes me laugh and feel happy and that’s how I imagine Jesus, making me happy.

We appreciate the time he takes to visit our classrooms and when he talks to us we feel good about our faith and ourselves. Sometimes our parents can’t get us to church to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation and Fr. Joe takes time during faith formation so that we can make things right with Jesus again. He really cares about our souls and getting us to heaven. Last year, Fr. Joe prayed the Stations of the Cross with us in church – we know that he is really busy but the fact that he took time with us made us feel important and loved.

I want to thank Fr. Joe for talking to my family on my First Communion day. I was scared but you were there to help me and show me the way. I’m not scared anymore! I love you Fr. Joe!

Thank you, Fr. Joe for all that you have done and all the sacrifices you have made for the IC community. God has blessed us well!

Students in the faith formation program at Immaculate Conception Parish, Ira Township

Our pastor invokes the Holy Spirit before he delivers his homily. He then relays powerful messages that are enlightening and inspirational. Our pastor is Msgr. Tony Tocco at St. Hugo of the Hills Parish in Bloomfield Hills.

Debbie Somand
St. Hugo of the Hills Parish, Bloomfield Hills

When I was a kid, sacramentals were thought of as “things just beneath sacraments”; they were holy objects that had been blessed, like rosaries and altar candles and holy water. Later we began to widen the notion to anything that pointed to or reminded us of God. They didn’t have to be especially blessed; in a sense, all of God’s creation became sacramental. I can now think of certain people whom I have known, heroes in my life who fit this definition in a special way.

One of the first who comes to mind is Fr. Clem Kern, later dignified as Msgr. Clem Kern, although he tended to joke about and make fun of the title. I first heard of him through my dad, a union-activist at Ford Motor, who used to also go to meetings at Holy Trinity Church in downtown Detroit; there Fr. Kern would hold meetings of A.C.T.U. — the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists. My father was always struck by a large number of poor people waiting in the hall to see Fr. Kern for help. They included alcoholics as well as mothers and fathers who had encountered hard times. Fr. Kern always seemed to help all of them, and he had time for everyone and everything. He acquired a reputation outside of church as “the Labor Priest,” and in the archdiocese and in his neighborhood as the “welfare priest.” One of the archbishops regarded him as a saint and amazing person.

Years later as a young priest myself and a social activist, I spent time as assistant and pastor at Ste. Anne’s, the parish next door. It was a great experience getting to know the phenomenal Clem Kern personally. He was supportive of all my efforts, and was always positive. Once I made a presentation seeking help from the Downtown Businessmens’ Association, and he was a member of the board. I got full support. A few weeks later at a vicariate meeting, he gave a report and told everyone that “I did a great job” getting support, (that was probably due to him and his presence!). Any time I went to Holy Trinity, I witnessed the line-up of needy people he took care of, that my dad used to speak of.

A different time we were part of a group of priests at a two-day program on Church renewal, organized by two local priests who had gone away on studies. It turned out to be a colossal failure in which the presenters were more into controlling and leading than they were in real Church renewal. Before the end of the day, they had to face a minor revolution from all of us there. Most of us expressed anger. As Clem Kern joined in, he was choked with emotion and actually shed tears in voicing his disappointment — another side of a great man and a great little saint.

I recall my feelings of sadness a few years later, as I read of his death in an accident on the freeway. He went off the highway to avoid fallen trash and debris; hitting something off the highway killed him. I attended his funeral. Needless to say, it was again a meaningful tribute to his years of service — to God, to his Church, and to all his fellow human beings.

Fr. Larry Carney