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Campaign underway to save Detroit church steeple that graces city skyline

January 16 2014 | 2 comments

st josaphat-3


St. Josaphat has served the catholic community of detroit since 1890.

Today—the doors of the church are closed.  The City of Detroit ordered them shut after a November storm.

“We had winds in excess of 60 miles an hour and it did some very severe damage,” said Kevin Piotrowski. He’s president of the Mother of Divine Mercy Parish Council, which represents three historic churches in the area, including St. Josaphat.

The structural integrity of the main steeple –that rises 200 feet into air  — was comprised by the storm.

Emergency measures were taken to stabilize it — but a permanent fix is required before the church will be allowed to reopen.

“For the first time in 112 years, we did not celebrate Christmas mass in this building and that was really difficult for a lot of people to not have that tradition,” Piotrowski said.

The worship space is awe-inspiring with its 65 foot ceiling.. Painted murals..stained glass windows..and beautiful altars.

Detroit’s Polish immigrant population, served by this church, certainly felt that way.

But now St. Josaphat’s future is uncertain. “We either have to repair the steeple, restore it and repair it or we have to take it down. But we have to do something,” Piotrowski told Detroit 2020.

Whatever the decision—it will be costly–likely–hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Money the parish of simply does not have.

Spokesman Joe Kohn says the Archdiocese of Detroit is not in a position to pay for the repairs. “We don’t get involved in specific projects for buildings for specific parishes. Unfortunately that’s beyond the scope of what we can do,” Kohn said.

Last month–the church sounded an SOS – starting a campaign to raise funds. Nearly 30-thousand dollars has come already come in –including donations from many who aren’t Catholic and have no connection to the parish. “These churches are landmarks and that steeple is a landmark,” Piotrowski said.

But it will take more money – and perhaps – an answer to the prayers of the faithful — for the spire that rises from the steeple to remain a piece of the city’s skyline.

“When you see that steeple standing there, when you’re coming, heading into the heart of the city and to downtown, it reminds you that detroit continues to be like it always has been, a city of strong faith, a city of compassion, a city of giving,” Piotrowski said.

St. Josaphat Church is located at 691 East Canfield near I-75 in Detroit.



Click here for more information on the “Save Our Steeples” campaign. 

You can also call (313) 831-6659.

Click here to go to the St. Josaphat Church website.


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  1. Felix January 17, 2014

    The Archdiocese can’t give anything? Seriously?
    What happened to the cash that we gave for “Changing Lives Together”? 30% of that money went to them for parishes that are hurting.

    This one is hurting. When it’s closed, it gets no money.


    Detroit 2020 Reply:

    Felix, thanks for your comment. The parishes do receive financial support from the “Changing Lives Together” campaign. However the Archdiocese of Detroit does not fund specific projects for buildings at individual parishes. The spokesman told us that responsibility belongs to the parish, which manages its own finances. St. Josaphat is waiting now for estimates on repair costs.
    Detroit 2020


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