Voices from past and present gather at St. Raymond for 75-year celebration

Trumpet players accompany the alumni choir at St. Raymond/Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Detroit during a 75th anniversary Mass on June 5. Dan Meloy | The Michigan Catholic

Trumpet players accompany the alumni choir at St. Raymond/Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Detroit during a 75th anniversary Mass on June 5.
Dan Meloy | The Michigan Catholic

Detroit — It was an anniversary and a reunion all packed into one at the 75th anniversary Mass at St. Raymond/Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Detroit on June 5.

Celebrating 75 years of giving thanks to God on Joanne Avenue in northeast Detroit, parishioners, current and former, welcomed Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron to St. Raymond Church for a Mass of thanksgiving.

“Over the course of 75 years, there have been significant events in this church,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “Baptisms, confirmations, marriages, also, more private events we can think of, confessions made, absolutions given. Think of all the occasions of the good news, people of this community trying to live the Christ life.”

Parishioners were treated to hymns by the St. Raymond/Our Lady of Good Counsel alumni choir, made of up current and former members of St. Raymond’s choir, a staple of the parish community.

“Basically, we got as many people to come back as we could,” said St. Raymond choir director and St. Raymond Class of 1967 alum John Karski. “We were banking on them knowing the hymns, but we’ve been practicing for six weeks. It’s nice for them to make a comeback.”

John Andrews was the original organist and choir master at St. Raymond. Andrews directed a 100-voice choir that Karski said was the talk of the town, attracting people from all over Detroit in the 1950s and ‘60s to St. Raymond for Christmas concerts and national programs.

“As times changed in the church, changes were made in the choir,” Karski said. “Women were first integrated into the choir in 1969; when the liturgy changed, the music changed. But throughout its history, the choir has always been a drawing card to the parish, and people come back to hear us. Parents who moved away from the parish tell their kids about the St. Raymond choir, and we see generations come back for Christmas.”

While celebrating the past, current St. Raymond/Our Lady of Good Counsel parishioners celebrated its diverse present, with the Gospel proclaimed in English and Hmong, a Vietnamese dialect of the immigrant community that now has a presence at St. Raymond.

“In today’s Gospel, the story of Jesus raising the young man from the dead is a foretelling of Jesus conquering death, so that we may never fear death,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “Each of those activities in this church is about Christ restoring our lives to God. All of that, every day for 75 years, right here in this community. He is offering new life to us. Living out the truth that God didn’t abandon us.”