History, meet tradition: Institute brings renaissance to Detroit parish

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron leads Canon Michael Stein, ICKSP, to the baptismal font inside St. Joseph Oratory in Detroit during Canon Stein’s installation Mass as pastor Feb. 5. Since the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest took over St. Joseph in October, parishioners say they’ve noticed an uptick in activity at the parish. (Tim Hinkle | Archdiocese of Detroit)

Newly installed pastor pledges accessibility, daily sacraments and formation at St. Joseph

DETROIT — The newest sense of spiritual revitalization in the city of Detroit is coming from an order that preserves the Church’s oldest customs.

The Feb. 5 installation of Canon Michael Stein to St. Joseph Oratory was the official start of Canon Stein’s ministry to the historic church on Detroit’s east side.

But ever since the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest took charge of St. Joseph Oratory on Oct. 16, clergy and laity alike have noticed a profound change in the spiritual life at St. Joseph — and not just the language in which the liturgy is celebrated.

“Now that we’ve been here for a couple of months, we really have been able to re-establish the daily spiritual life of the parish with daily Mass, daily devotions and confessions,” Canon Stein told The Michigan Catholic during a reception in the parish hall following the installation Mass.

“We already have four levels of weekly catechism, we have monthly conferences on the liturgy, we even have organized parish outings, including two winter skates at local ice rinks,” Canon Stein said. “It really forms that family bond that people are attached to a parish, that people have a pastor, have priests day in and day out they can come to.”

Canon Michael Stein preaches from the pulpit Feb. 5 inside St. Joseph Oratory in Detroit. (Tim Hinkle | Archdiocese of Detroit)

Canon Stein was officially installed as the pastor of St. Joseph Oratory — the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, based in Chicago, labels its churches oratories — by Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron in a ceremony that involved him being escorted to the pulpit, from which Archbishop Vigneron explained the role Canon Stein has of caring the souls of the parish.

“Invoking the name of Jesus Christ is the way to transform all those ugly things in our work into the kingdom of heaven,” Archbishop Vigneron said during his homily. “This is why you and I need priests; we need pastors. This is why Canon Stein is here in this church. To continually proclaim, day in and day out, by word and his example, that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. And he is our hope for victory over sin, which is already assured.”

Archbishop Vigneron expressed how he was impressed by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest’s teachings of the charism of St. Francis de Sales, the institute’s patron, and how they relate to not being bitter from sin or disappointment.

“St. Francis de Sales was the bishop of Geneva, but was never able to be in Geneva,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “He never went into his cathedral, was never a public figure. Geneva was run by the Calvinists, and he never got the chance to watch over his flock from his episcopal seat. And he never became bitter, never had the idea to go pull up all the weeds in his life. He had a peaceful abandonment to God’s providence. I’m very confident that spiritual wisdom will guide this parish.”

Canon Michael Stein talks with a parishioner during a reception following his installation as pastor of St. Joseph Oratory in Detroit on Feb. 5. (Dan Meloy | The Michigan Catholic)

After Mass, the parish welcomed Canon Stein and Archbishop Vigneron to a reception to celebrate Canon Stein’s installation, where the parish family gave Archbishop Vigneron a gift to commemorate the occasion.

“I’m grateful all of you who are here today,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “Canon said he’s very close to being able to tell the names of each one of you. I’m very grateful for the welcome you’ve given to the institute, the canon and the deacon, so bless you all, thank you very much.”’

Since the institute’s arrival, parishioners say they have had greater access to the sacraments and faith formation, bringing a spiritual renaissance to St. Joseph.

“St. Joseph has definitely progressed, not only in how it’s trying to do the Mass and everything, but how more people are coming together, more activities are happening, we’re becoming a busy parish,” said parishioner David Oroshi. “The biggest reason for the change, I think, is the Tridentine Mass; it’s something that’s rarely done anymore. Everything feels like it felt 2,000 years ago, but I think what draws people in is the silence, the chance to meditate on who we are and what God wants us to do.”

The institute has two different cycles of classes on weekdays and a three-class cycle on Sunday, from first Communion and confirmation classes to continuous adult faith formation classes open to everybody.

The classes offer parishioners the chance to learn more about the Latin Mass and its symbols and meaning, and serves as a refresher on the role sacraments play in one’s faith life.

“We’re here to provide that continuing formation, the continuing life of the sacraments,” Canon Stein said. “It goes back to that first question of the Catechism: why did God create us? It’s to know, love and serve Him. The more we know and grow in our faith, then that dilates our hearts to love him. The more we love Him, the better we’re able to serve Him. And we see that in our daily lives at the parish.”