Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

May 4, 2014

Catholics attend Mass at old Detroit churches

DETROIT (AP) — Catholics trying to support Detroit's oldest churches are encouraging people to fill empty pews by going to Mass and admiring the century-old architecture.

Called the Detroit Catholic Mass Mob, the group has been reaching out to people on Facebook and organizing visits to churches that once were home to European immigrants. Congregations now are much smaller, reflecting a drop in the city's population.

The next outing is Sunday at the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Charles Borromeo on Detroit's east side, a church that was built around 1918 and is on the National Register of Historic Places, the Detroit Free Press reported (http://on.freep.com/1fGddJb) .

"I've been going to several of the older churches, and they blow me away," said retired real estate agent AnnaMarie Barnes of Warren. "The architecture is amazing. People go to Europe to see these kind of churches."

In the suburbs, "you don't get to see it," she said. "So we're trying to renew the interest and give the churches some monetary help."

The Mass Mob visited St. Hyacinth church in April, boosted Mass attendance that day by 100 and helped the collection plate, too. Parish secretary Darlene Zabrzenski said the pastor was delighted and didn't want to end the service.

"At least now people know that we're here, because we're in the center of nothing," Zabrzenski said of the neighborhood.

Major repairs on the towering steeple at St. Josaphat church, just north of downtown along Interstate 75, have brought attention to old churches. An effort to visit old churches has also occurred in Buffalo, New York.

"You got to go to church anyways," said Jeff Stawasz, who graduated from a Catholic high school. "Let's go to one of these grand, old, century-old churches that are struggling and show our support and solidarity."

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

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