Current Location: Past Events > Pilgrimage
The Society's third
annual west side Detroit historic Polish church pilgrimage and Święconka was
held on Saturday, April 10, and once again we were blessed with glorious
weather and a great turnout! Last year, over 150 signed up for the event,
and we had just over 100 this year, including a busload from Marine City,
thanks to the recruiting efforts of member Loretta Zamborowski! In past
years, the event has drawn pilgrims from as far away as Lapeer, Monroe,
Taylor, White Lake, Wyandotte, Sterling Heights, Warren, and even Chicago,
We began our pilgrimage
this year at 10 a.m. at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church at 7685
Grandville, formed on September 5, 1923, in Detroit's Warrendale District.
Society director Rev. Gary Michalik gave a very interesting history of the
parish, which was lavishly decorated for the Easter season. As is
traditional in Polish Catholic churches, Ss. Peter and Paul contained an
empty tomb depicting the risen Christ. The church's music director, Mr.
Johnny Kash, led the pilgrims in the singing of one Polish and one English
From there we moved on
to St. Alphonsus Catholic Church at 7455 Calhoun in Dearborn, founded in
1852 on the farmland of Peter Joseph Esper and his wife, Catherine Theisen
Esper, who donated the land for the purpose of building a church and a
school to educate children in the Catholic faith. The history of St.
Alphonsus was presented by Ms. Lori Katona, church historian. The farmland
that was donated for the formation of the church belonged to her great-great
grandparents. Ms. Katona also wrote and published a booklet entitled "A
Guide to St. Alphonsus Church - Dearborn, Michigan: The Statues, Paintings
and Stained Glass Windows - Art and Architecture Details," a copy of which
was purchased and donated to the Society's archives.
A cemetery alongside the
first church extended westward into the present Schaefer highway, which did
not extend north of Warren. In 1876, the whole cemetery was moved to its
present site to make room for the extension of Schaefer Road. Many of the
Esper family are interred at the cemetery, which contains over 250 graves.
Other notable burials include priests of the church: Rev. George Godez,
Monsignor William Schulte, Monsignor Bernard Kearns, and the maternal
grandfather of Henry Ford - Patrick O'Herin.
While not a traditional
Polish parish, and while it was established by German and Irish settlers,
St. Alphonsus has significance to Polonia because as Polish Americans began
to settle in the area, they began attending the church. As we learned after
departing and moving on to St. Barbara Catholic Church, where Rev. Michalik
gave a historical presentation, at the time of St. Barbara's birth, this
portion of the City was a tranquil village known as Springwells. There were
40 Polish-American families who had settled in the area who were in search
of a place of worship and to practice their Roman Catholic faith. The only
other Catholic church in the district was St. Alphonsus, which had been
established over 50 years before. The religious education of these
Polish-American families was of vital concern.
Our Święconka was held
at the newly renovated Fr. Patrick O'Kelley Knights of Columbus Banquet Hall
on Park (Michigan Avenue and Outer Drive) in Dearborn. A beautiful
terrarium was donated by WSDPAHS Director Richard Sokolowski and given away
to a lucky winner in a name draw. The traditional Święconka menu included
blessed eggs (jajko poswiecony), kiełbasa and ham, potato salad, beet
horseradish (chrzan), bread, butter lambs, dessert (variety of cakes, or
babkas), and beverages. WSDPAHS member Sr. M. Patricia Pyszynski, C.S.S.F.,
blessed our eggs and other food, and all present raved about the meal, which
was prepared by O'Kelley's own Veronica along with her crew.
St. Barbara's music
director, Mr. Kazimierz Jędralczyk, graciously offered to bring his keyboard
along and to provide musical accompaniment at the luncheon. To commemorate
the tragic deaths of the President and First Lady of Poland and the other
Polish leaders and dignitaries that occurred earlier that morning, Mr.
Jędralczyk led the pilgrims as we sang, "Jesus, remember me, when you come
into your kingdom" three times, and he then proceeded to perform a few
other religious pieces and some additional music.
Coach service was once
again provided by Trinity Coach of Wyandotte. We arrived back at Ss. Peter
& Paul at about 3:30 p.m. Optional and Mass was offered at each of the
We thank all those who
helped to make this year's pilgrimage a success, including Rev. Stanislaus
Tokarski, Pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul, Rev. David Lesniak, Pastor of St.
Alphonsus, and Rev. Zbigniew Grankowski, Pastor of St. Barbara, and their
staffs, for graciously hosting us; Mr. Johnny Kash, musical director of Ss.
Peter and Paul, and Mr. Kazimierz Jędralczyk, musical director of St.
Barbara, for the gift of their music; Rev. Gary Michalik and Ms. Lori Katona,
our historical presenters; WSDPAHS Treasurer, Mr. Bob Bielenda, and Mrs.
Eleanor Bielenda, who arrived at the banquet hall early to help with table
set-up; Ms. Pamela Rupinski for leading the rosary; Ms. Aleksandra Porter,
Ms. Pamela Rupinski, and Mr. Leonard Skowronski, who helped with
registration; the staff of O'Kelley K of C for their wonderful service and
hospitality; Trinity Coach of Wyandotte; and all others who gave of their
time and helped to make this event the success that it was.