Midtown is mission ground: Oratory-in-Formation plants solid roots

Fr. Ryan Adams holds a relic of St. Philip Neri for members of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish to venerate during the Italian saint’s feast day May 26. Fr. Adams is part of the Detroit Oratory-in-Formation, a trio of priests seeking to establish an Oratory of St. Philip Neri at the Midtown Detroit parish. (Dan Meloy | The Michigan Catholic)

One year into formation, trio of priests seek to transform Cass Corridor

DETROIT — From bike lanes to breweries, dog parks to art deco, and hip hop to hipsters, Midtown has just about everything.

Now, three priests are almost one year into their mission of reviving the sacramental life of the Catholic Church in Detroit’s Midtown — also known as the Cass Corridor.

Fr. Dan Jones is the superior of the Detroit Oratory-in-Formation, a group of three priests in the discernment phase of establishing an Oratory of St. Philip Neri.

Fr. Jones, along with Fr. Ryan Adams and Fr. Marko Djonovic, live together at the Detroit Oratory-in-Formation, in addition to the other full-time jobs they have, where they manage the pastoral duties of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish on the corner of Woodward Avenue and Interstate 94.

“Fr. Marko has spent the last year researching community development, studying it and speaking with those in the community who do outreach to the poor and residents in the area about what is needed,” Fr. Jones told The Michigan Catholic. “We want to begin more of an evangelistic outreach, so we began by expanding the services offered here.”

Fr. Jones said Our Lady of the Rosary has increased Mass times from two Masses a week to nine. The parish, which used to be clustered with the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament and St. Moses the Black, has Mass at 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5:15 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Sundays, with a full hour of confessions before the Sunday evening Mass.

“One of the things St. Philip was known for was hearing confessions,” Fr. Jones said. “The oratory has been known for offering sacramental services for the surrounding community, especially the Eucharist and confessions, so that’s something we want to major in.”

On May 26, the Detroit Oratory-in-Formation celebrated the feast of St. Philip Neri with a special Mass in which parishioners had the chance to adore the Blessed Sacrament and venerate a relic of St. Philip Neri.

It was also a chance for visitors to the parish to learn more about the saint and the work of the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, a pontifical society of apostolic life of Catholic priests and lay brothers, commonly known as “Oratorians,” who do not take formal vows.

“St. Philip Neri is not well known in the United States, but in other parts of the world he is greatly revered,” Fr. Adams said during the homily on May 26. “He is known as the ‘Apostle of Rome.’ He was canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, along with Spaniards Francis Xavier, Ignatius of Loyola, Isidore the Laborer and Teresa of Avila. The Italians said, ‘the pope just canonized four Spaniards and one saint.’”

At the Detroit Oratory-in-Formation, the laity are encouraged to come and go throughout the week and take up tasks the church needs, Fr. Adams said.

“We want Our Lady of the Rosary to be a mission church to evangelize those who are moving to the area and just have moved away from the faith,” Fr. Adams told The Michigan Catholic. “A lot of people are moving into the city, and the church is at a prime location to encounter people and be an outreach. Fr. Marko was sitting in a coffee shop once, and someone overheard him talking about the faith and sat down and had all these questions. We’re here to be a presence.”

With Our Lady of the Rosary situated across from the College of Creative Studies and down the road from Wayne State University, Fr. Jones is encouraging all artists, builders, painters and just about anyone who can swing a hammer to come volunteer at the parish for much-needed repairs and maintenance.

“The oratory is known as a lay movement; St. Philip had prayer meetings with the laity where they would sit, pray, converse with one another and find out what was needed in the community,” Fr. Jones said. “We could use help of all kinds, so (people can) feel free to contact us. For people who work strange hours at the hospital or were never comfortable in the traditional parish setting, we’re here for you. We want to connect with the area, to be that opening invitation to the Church.”

Calling all artists
The Detroit Oratory-in-Formation at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish is putting out an open invitation to all artists and builders to help restore the parish. Contact Fr. Daniel Jones, [email protected] for more information or to volunteer.