On Sunday, November 23, at the noon Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in
Wyandotte, Rev. Walter J. Ptak remembered parishioners of the now-closed St.
Helena Roman Catholic Church, the daughter church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel,
which was permanently closed on September 13, 2008, after 83 years. The
final Mass was celebrated at St. Helena on September 13 at 4:30 p.m. by the
Most Rev. John M. Quinn, Rev. Walter J. Ptak (who was the Administrator of
St. Helena), former pastors Rev. Paul Larry Siroskey and Rev. George
Kowalski, and Orchard Lake’s Rev. Stanislaw Flis. St. Helena was one of
several Roman Catholic churches in Detroit’s Archdiocese to close during the
past few years.
As part of the ceremony to honor St. Helena on November 23, a memorial was
presented on behalf of the West Side Detroit Polish American Historical
Society, whose headquarters is in historic St. Hedwig Catholic Church at
3245 Junction on Detroit’s west side. The framed memorial, prepared by the
society’s president, Mr. Adam Lis, included photographs of the church’s
exterior and St. Helena’s final Mass program, as well as commemorative text
and a list of all of St. Helena’s pastors and their presiding years. It was
presented and read by the society’s Vice President & Executive Director, Ms.
Laurie A. Gomulka Palazzolo, and will hang permanently in Our Lady of Mt.
Carmel’s vestibule. A blessing of the statue of St. Helena by Rev. Ptak was
included as part of the ceremony. The statue, which formerly stood in St.
Helena Church, now also permanently resides in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Church. Several dozen former parishioners of St. Helena were present at the
November 23 Mass.
A similar ceremony took place on October 26 at Ss. Andrew & Benedict
Catholic Church in Detroit to honor the memory of historic St. John Cantius
Catholic Church in Delray and to celebrate 105 years of her life. The
parishioners of Ss. Andrew & Benedict dedicated a Mass on October 26 to
their mother church at 10:30 a.m. on the occasion of the first anniversary
of St. John Cantius’ closing. Music selections under the direction of Ss.
Andrew & Benedict music director Steve Frayer, former music director at St.
John Cantius, were from the final Mass at St. John Cantius. A framed
memorial in honor of St. John Cantius, prepared by the West Side Detroit
Polish American Historical Society’s president, Mr. Adam Lis, was officially
dedicated to Ss. Andrew & Benedict and will hang permanently in the church.
The memorial contains photographs of St. John Cantius Church and
commemorative text, as well as a bronze dedication plate. It was blessed by
Rev. Edward F. Zaorski, Ss. Andrew & Benedict’s pastor and former pastor of
St. John Cantius Church. Several former parishioners of St. John Cantius
were present at the October 26 memorial Mass. Each person present also
received a complimentary copy of the commemorative DVD of the final Mass
celebrated at St. John Cantius as well as a souvenir from historic St. John
Among its other goals, the West Side Detroit Polish American Historical
Society honors historic west side churches. On Sunday, August 31, the
society presented a framed memorial to St. Andrew Catholic Church of Detroit
and its pastor, Rev. Julian Chmura, at the church’s closing Mass. St.
Andrew, at 7060 McGraw on Detroit’s west side, closed permanently after 88
years. The church building will continue to be used as a chapel. The society
plans to commemorate historic St. Hedwig Catholic Church this December and
historic St. Francis d’Assisi of Detroit’s west side in the spring. The
society also plans to commemorate Our Lady of Mt. Carmel of Wyandotte in the
The West Side Detroit Polish American Historical Society was incorporated as
a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in February 2006. It exists for the
observation, study, appreciation, and preservation of the history of west
side Detroit Polonia’s neighborhoods and the Polish-American immigrants who
settled and continued to build the community throughout the decades. This
includes their descendants and their neighbors, surrounding institutions,
businesses, and churches. The society also serves as a repository of
historical archives, including artifacts, documents, oral histories, and
other significant records relevant to its mission and purposes.
For further information, please contact Ms. Laurie A. Gomulka Palazzolo at