DETROIT – Parishoners at one Detroit church are banding together to try and prevent a change in their church that they claim could result in their church's closing.
Detroit's century-old Holy Family Church is a vital part of the Metro Detroit Italian-American community. Finance committee member Sebastian Previti explains the deep ties.
"My grandparents were married here, then my parents are married there, my kids were baptized there, so we have a lot of history and I'd like to see my kids get married there, as well," Previti said.
In 2011, the church's pastor died, and Previti and others went to Italy to persuade a priest to come to Detroit. A man called "Padre Pino" stepped in. His real name is the Rev. Giuseppe Licciardi, a Palermo-based priest who spoke no English when he arrived.
But he worked on his English, injected considerable energy into the Holy Family community and even held a weekly Latin Mass to the point where weekly weddings were becoming a normal occurrence.
Now, widely beloved Padre Pino is out. Previti built an online petition to try and persuade the archdiocese to allow the priest to stay.
There are more than 2,000 signatures already and Previti said without the priest, the church will close down.
The archdiocese told Local 4 that it was Padre Pino who asked to retire at the age of 75. The archdiocese said he's trying to decide whether to accept senior status or return to Italy.
The archdiocese said it has no plans to close down Holy Family.