Parishioners reflect on last day of mass as several Catholic churches close across Metro Detroit

Archdiocese of Detroit closing or merging hundreds of churches due to low attendance


It's been emotional day for many parishioners across Metro Detroit. Hundreds of Catholics took part in one last mass in their churches on Sunday.

Several parishes across town are slated to close their doors and merge with other churches. The Archdiocese of Detroit made the decision to close, combine and cluster the churches because attendance is down along with revenue.

It was a day of reflection on the six decades of memories made at St. Peter The Apostle Parish in Harper Woods.

"Good friends and happiness. The parish is a very giving, friendly place. I think that's what we are all going to miss," said parishioners Elaine Mistretta.

"All of my children went to school here. My daughter was married here, my daughter-in-law was baptized here and my grandson was baptized here, so quite a few things have happened," said Ann Marie Leon.

On this final mass, even past parishioners returned home to say goodbye to a place that is closing its door, but will always remain open in their hearts and minds.

"It's a big part of your life being taken away," said Former Member Joanie Timko.

Over the years St Peter's has dropped from 3,000 to 240 members. There's been a graying of the congregation, too as the average age of parishioners is about 80-years-old.

For decades Henry Sobieski has come to the church to worship.

"I've been here for 56 years, my parents passed away though, but I still go to St Peter's," said Sobieski. "The saddest thing to me is that it's going to become part of history and the greatest tragedy is that it's going to be forgotten. But, I think it will still be remembered in St Peter's and the people's memories."

Parishioners have known about the consolidation plan for some time now, but still some will have a hard time saying goodbye to a place they have called home for decades.

"You know after so many years closing the church, it's sad," said member Joe Pantori.

Next Sunday most of the church's members will head to St. Veronica's Parish in Eastpointe, others aren't sure where they'll go. No matter where they worship next, they'll forever be family and connected by their time here at this church.                                                                                                              

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