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Posted on: August 30, 2021

Update on Status of School Building Sale

REPORT TO THE PARISH

UPDATE ON CATHOLIC CHARITIES “HEALTHY HOUSING” PROJECT FOR REPURPOSING OF SCHOOL AND ACTIVITIES BUILDING

 

At the weekend Masses of February 6 and 7, Father Novelly announced that a decision had been made, in coordination with the Archdiocese of Detroit and with the advice and consent of the Parish and Finance Councils, to support an acquisition/rehabilitation proposal by Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan (CCSEM) for repurposing the parish school and activity buildings into “Healthy Housing” affordable apartments. This vision for providing a new use for these long standing vacant buildings is part of a national program by Catholic Charities USA for expanding affordable housing in Detroit and four other cities (St. Louis, Las Vegas, Spokane, Portland). CCSEM is joined in the Detroit effort by Ascension Health, the parent organization of St. John Hospital.

This past weekend, I reported at both weekend Masses that this effort has now moved from vision to action steps. CCSEM has prepared a comprehensive development plan and begun the process for obtaining the necessary public and private finances to implement the plan. A timeline of 24-36 months is estimated for completion of the entire development process. Requests for the first stage of funding are now underway. CCSEM and Ascension Health have also affirmed their ongoing commitment to this repurposing plan and have developed a community engagement process for keeping the parish and neighborhood informed on the plan’s progress. At St. Matthew Parish, we remain a positive, prayerful, and patient partner in this exciting action plan for the acquisition and repurposing of our school and activity buildings.

The CCSEM/Ascension - St. Matthew “Healthy Housing” Project impacts the parish and the community in a variety of ways: (1) It improves the physical appearance of the parish campus and the neighborhood by transitioning currently unoccupied buildings into an attractive, long term community resource; (2) It provides for affordable housing that is greatly needed and is part of a larger initiative to assure that housing needs for Detroiters are met; (3) It offers an array of essential, on-site health services in a convenient and accessible neighborhood setting; and (4) It assures the ongoing and long established commitment of St. Matthew Parish and the principal partners in the project as a continuing legacy of their respective missions to the people in this northeast Detroit community. Further reports to the parish will be provided periodically as this exciting plan unfolds.

Respectfully submitted,

David Smydra

St. Matthew Parish Representative

Posted on: July 10, 2021

Financial Status Update

God certainly has been good to us through the support that so many and so generously have given to St. Matthew’s. Please take note of the “smiley face” report. It is a full fiscal year end report of the Sunday envelope contributions which include the debt (deficit) reduction envelope. You can see that we surpassed our budgeted figure for envelope income. I am so pleased, and I want to say thank you!

Now, what does that exactly mean for our overall budget? Well, as good  as it is, we still do not have a balanced budget, but through additional donations and withdrawals from our savings, we are able to pay all our bills and make necessary and planned maintenance expenses. In short, we did not have to withdraw as much from our savings account. In fact, we only had to take $35,000 from our account to make operational expenses, the lowest in over 10 years. That means with the extra CSA money we generated the last two years and from special donations we received from generous contributors, we were also able to take care of the maintenance projects we scheduled last year and can address those we are scheduling for this year. (In the fall, I’ll make a complete listing of what we have accomplished through the ongoing decisions of the Parish and Finance Councils.)

Regarding our current CSA, we have 46 parishioners who have pledged giving us a total of $17,520. We are still shy of our goal by $302. I am a  little disappointed. In the past two to three years, we have exceeded our goal and were able to offset our expenditures as I indicated above.

This year, we set a theme of $1 for the AoD and a $1 for St. Matthew’s, thus internally doubling our target. In fact, this was a much lower target  than the last three years. Those that pledged did a great job, but many have not yet responded to this year’s CSA. In fact, 157 parishioners have not responded to either the AoD or St. Matthew’s appeals. If you have not made a pledge, I hope you reconsider. I know this administration of the CSA is different this year coming from the AoD, but I do make an appeal to please respond with what you have done in the past when it was administered at the parish level. If you are having trouble  responding, we will help you locally. Just call the parish for help or materials in order to respond.

On the matter of the flood damage, the insurance company and the contractors have reviewed everything, and the claim is being filed. The church auditorium needs a good and heavy cleaning and disinfecting.

But, the rectory may require more extensive work. Carpeting will need to be replaced in two basement conference rooms, and the tile is popping up off the floor and will need to be removed. Unfortunately, the tile is asbestos, and abatement will be required. I am afraid that the auditorium and rectory basements will not be able to be used for some time. We are just coming out of the pandemic, and now this issue  occurred.

Well, that’s life! Please say a prayer for our community of St. Matthew.

God bless all of you,
Father Duane

Posted on: June 12, 2021

COVID Updates

I want to congratulate our three high school graduates that were noted and pictured in The Pulse last week. These fine young people have gifts and talents that will take them a long way in life. Personally, I will miss, in the fall, the ministerial services that they offered to the parish; Marella’s beautiful voice, Ian and Cory’s faithful service at the altar. I will certainly keep them in my prayers. Praying especially that they continue to live the faith of the Catholic Church that their parents and parish have shared with them. Good luck to these graduates who transition in life during this difficult time of a world-wide pandemic.

We are, however, making some progress in this pandemic. Thanks to the vaccinations that have been received. As mentioned at Mass I cannot stress enough (as does government and health officials) the importance of being vaccinated. It is our most sure and best chance of putting this  scourge behind us.

At this time, we are still on track to have the mask mandate lifted in the State of Michigan by July 1st. As announced, the weekend of July 3/4 will  be the first time masks will not be required at St. Matthew’s. However, if anyone should choose to continue wearing their mask because they have not been vaccinated or just simply feel safer, we should not judge them, nor will we require anyone to sit in a separate section of the c church. Our numbers are such that we can still continue to social  distance and appropriately share a sign of peace with each other as to your comfort level. We will still provide, at least to the end of the year, hand sanitizer, and the priest will still be masked for the distribution of Communion for the present time.

I would strongly encourage all our parishioners to return to church. The dispensation from not attending Mass is no longer in effect, except for those who are sick or feel they may be compromised by attending. So I ask every one to get the word out. Tell those whom you see it’s okay to return to church; in fact, it’s important to return to in-person worship. "Live-streaming” does not develop community nor does it give you communion with the Lord Jesus.

Another matter I would like to address is the recent petition to “protect the Hyde Amendment.” This petition is critical in maintaining the Hyde Amendment which is under attack by certain members of Congress. In last week’s Pulse as well as this week’s, we gave you information about signing an online petition to STOP TAXPAYER ABORTION! However, some may not be able to use a computer, so we have an insert this week that directs you how to contact your senator or district representative. I would ask you in good conscience to respond. The Hyde Amendment is worth keeping, and it safeguards our tax dollars from being spent on elective abortion.

Next week, we celebrate Father’s Day and know that I will share a Father’s Day Blessing. Have a good, blessed, and safe week.

God bless all of you,
Father Duane

Posted on: May 8, 2021

Chair Sale and CSA 2021 Update

I announced last week the sale of our extra folding chairs from the auditorium. For over 40 years, we have never used them; and I was so glad for the effort of Patricia Camazzola-Godoshian for pursuing a sale  online.

We sold in total 358 chairs. The first 200 sold two years ago to a movie production company; and last week, we sold 158 to a banquet venue outside of Columbus, Ohio. The chairs will be used for weddings and banquets. Such a good use for them to live on.

The last 158 chairs were sold for $5 a piece; and, although that may seem cheap, I think it was a good price given the fact that it took us three years in an attempt to sell them.

The biggest problem in moving was bringing them up from the  auditorium. But thanks to 11 men from the parish, the work was made  easy. I want to thank them (please see the list below) for all the good work and good spirit they had. In fact, the man who picked up the chairs said he was so pleased to meet us. We were such a hospitable friendly group. I personally was so delighted!

Again, thanks guys!

On another matter, I want to indicate to the parish our CSA target for this year. The “official” kick-off will be May 15 and 16 with an in-pew solicitation from those parishioners who did not receive an AoD pledge card through the mail. One of the reasons we are conducting the in-pew solicitation is so that we can increase participation. We have always been successful in meeting our AoD target, but the level of participation has  usually remained the same or in some years has fallen. We cannot continue on that path, so we would appreciate an increase in  participation.

Even if you can only give a little, if you have not participated before or not in a few years, please join in this year as the funds we raise are critical to our overall effort to be a Beacon of Light and Sign of Hope—proclaiming the Gospel message.

Having said this, I want to share with you our AoD target, which is $17,822. However, in the last three years, we have set an internal target for ourselves that helps to offset our budget deficit and take care of long overdue maintenance. So, this year, we set an internal target of $36,000. This is lower than the last two years. In effect, it doubles what the AoD is asking for. We might say that we are seeking $1 for the AoD and $1 for St. Matthew Parish. This additional $18,000 will be an absolute gift to our overall budget and help us to meet our expenses. Your help and contribution are appreciated.

I also want to thank you for your generosity and faithfulness to last year’s CSA pledge drive. You saw in the Pulse two weeks ago the CSA Report. We pledged over $45,000 and to date have received $41,833. With a $14,358 AoD target, we had $27,475.95 returned to us.

God bless all of you, Father Duane

 

Patricia Camazzola-Godoshian, Coordinator

Don Veryser

Dan Veryser and Friend, John

Bill Zuerblis

Jerry Mielke

Dan McBride

Dennis Hermann

Ed Comiskey

Bill Ridella

Bob Ternes

Father Duane Novelly

Posted on: April 10, 2021

Alleluia! He Is Risen!

Alleluia! He is risen! These words of Easter morning and the Easter season ring true for us. As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, when last year, I celebrated Easter Sunday Mass alone; this year, we had 136 attendees on Sunday and 46 at the Vigil. We could still social distance and all felt comfortable in coming back. It was so good to see so many familiar faces return. It is now time to come back to church.

I would ask you still to consider the Saturday, 4:30 p.m. Mass, as there is  usually more room than on Sunday. But between Saturday and Sunday, we should be able to accommodate everyone.

I continue to pray for an end to this pandemic. But it will only happen when everyone gets their vaccinations. So now I pray for those who refuse or are confused about the shots. All legitimate authorities, science, public health, churches, etc. are encouraging full participation. It is an act of charity towards your fellow parishioners, the community, and even yourself. The disease is terrible, and you do not want to contract it.

To young people, I say be smart and avoid superspreader occasions and events. You certainly can fast from some entertainment a little longer for the sake of your friends, your parents, or your grandparents to say nothing about hospitals that are overwhelmed as the virus and its variants spike.

At St. Matthew, we will still follow all recommended and mandated protocols; i.e., masks, hand sanitizing, and social distancing, until the pandemic is well behind us. Keep praying and take your courage in the Risen Lord.

I also want to comment on the beautiful and prayerful liturgies we experienced during Holy Week, from Palm Sunday through the Triduum/Easter Sunday, the spirit among the people could not have been better. Maybe it was because we were anxious to return to the Sacred Paschal Festival, or maybe it just felt familiar and comfortable. What ever the reason, know it was a good experience for all, including me. It was so good to have you back.

It felt like our community of St. Matthew had risen. Indeed it had, in the faith of Jesus Christ, the Lord who has risen from the dead.

Happy Easter!
Father Duane

Posted on: March 14, 2021

Previous Week Pulse Issue

You probably noticed how different The Pulse looked last week. No, we are not changing our style or format, but we had no one to edit or put  the paper together. Marilyn Lynn, our parish secretary, was hospitalized
for a couple of days due to a back issue. It was severe, and she could not come to work. So I, along with the publisher, LPi, cobbled something together. The Intentions for the Masses will be printed in this week’s paper, as well as an update of other critical matters. It is amazing how the day-to-day workings of an organization depend on the gifts and talents of another. Marilyn had the back problem, but we all were limping.

From answering phones, dealing with the computer, organizing fund raisers, setting up for weekend Masses, managing the front office, etc., Marilyn has truly done a magnificent job. If you see her, say a word of thanks!

Now that the pandemic is coming more under control in our State, with lower hospitalizations, more vaccines available, and more venues opening up (still with precautions), Archbishop Vigneron is lifting the dispensation from Sunday Mass starting this weekend, which marks a year since the shut-down began. Lifting the dispensation means we are no longer excused from missing Mass on Sunday. It is our obligation to be taken seriously. However, I don’t suspect we will be packed to overflowing, but I do hope more people will begin returning to church, especially since we are approaching the most holy days of the liturgical year—Holy Week and the Easter Season.

I encourage you to invite people to return to church. If you or anyone goes to Costco, restaurants, shopping malls, albeit with masks and distancing, there really is no reason why you can’t come to church. All safety protocols are still in place, and we seem to be very safe here.

It was so disappointing last year when I celebrated Easter Mass by myself. I know the Eucharist is central to the celebration, but the people are the heart! You give the Liturgy life in your response, your song, your prayer. The pandemic is not over yet, but we are getting through it. Your attendance at Mass is yet another way to show we are in this together, and we can do it! Please get the word out to as many as you can. We at St. Matthew Parish are open with all safety protocols  and looking forward to seeing you again.

I also want to encourage you to do all that you can to receive your vaccine when you are eligible. I just received my second shot this past week. The Bishops along with all Church leaders are indicating that it is an act of charity to receive it as it brings protection not only to you but to others. “Herd immunity” is what our society strives for, and we need to cooperate for the good of all. So don’t shy from it!

Get your “Fauci Ouchie”!

God bless you all of you, Father Duane

Posted on: February 14, 2021

School Building Announcement

I was very pleased to be able to make the announcement regarding our school buildings last weekend. Due to the pandemic, I know that many parishioners did not hear the announcement because they are not yet back to church. So, I am publishing the full announcement in The Pulse this week because many parishioners do access the parish paper online. I encourage everyone to read it anew even if you have heard it at Mass.
Sometimes, a second hearing brings out additional information and understanding.

Remember this vision is in a developmental stage and nothing is final at this time. So, please continue to pray for a successful development. I feel confident that this will be good for our parish, our neighborhood, and for the people who are served by CCSEM.

We also heard from the Archbishop regarding the general dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. In fact, his complete statement was sent on social media to all Catholics who are connected to it. But, in brief, the Archbishop indicated that the general dispensation will be extended only for one month, until March 13th. With its expiration, we encourage parishioners to return to the celebration of the Eucharist, an essential part of our faith and life. For God comes to us in Christ Jesus not virtually but in flesh and blood, the Body and Blood of Christ received in Holy Communion.

Fully aware of extenuating circumstances, a particular dispensation will be granted for those who are ill or anyone caring for one who is at risk of serious complications from COVID-19, as well as those who may have significant anxiety or fear of getting sick from being in a public setting. The judgment to return should be based on your need for communion with the Lord; and, if you are engaging in other activities like eating out at restaurants, traveling, partaking in non-essential shopping, widening one’s circle of contacts, or other non-essential activities, it is advised that you return to an essential part of your spiritual life, the Holy Eucharist.

Of course, we will still practice all standard protocols, i.e., masks, hand sanitizing, social distancing, and complying with a recommended 50% capacity of our worship space. However, with distance protocols already in place, we can comfortably accommodate just over 100 people. To date, during the pandemic, we’ve only had 40 to 60 people attend. We can certainly accommodate more, especially as we approach the Lent and Easter Seasons.

I hope to see many more return to our Sunday celebrations as we anticipate the celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection which we were not able to do last year. 

Having said that, our preparation for Easter begins on Ash Wednesday this coming week. With proper protocols in place, we will have the distribution of ashes with a global or universal directive to reform our lives and follow the Gospel with the placement of ashes on your forehead with the minister being gloved. Ashes being an inert material, the health experts indicated that the risk of any transmission is negligible. Again, distribution of ashes will be at the 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Masses.

Just a reminder that Rice Bowls will be available on the First Sunday of Lent for your use. Their return will be on Palm Sunday. Let us keep each other in prayer. As more people are vaccinated and the number of infections start to trend down throughout the country, we pray the Lord will strengthen us to move through these difficult times, so we may fully return to being church to and for one another. Please pray for me as well.

God bless you, Father Duane!

Important Announcement
re: Catholic Charities of SE Michigan and St. Matthew


For the past 13 years, we have prayed in our General Intercessions at Mass, “For the appropriate transition of our school buildings as we seek to further the Gospel message as a parish and as a community resource.” Persistence in prayer does bear fruit. I want to share with you some exciting developments.

CCSEM along with the national organization, CCUSA, a leading organization in addressing the needs of the poor, along with Ascension Healthcare has approached us, St. Matthew Parish, with a vision for affordable housing in the city of Detroit. A concept that is beginning to take root in five other major US cities. The vision is to re-purpose older school buildings to meet the needs of the marginalized with affordable healthy housing.

To that end, CCSEM approached us to share their vision. Needless to say, we listened, we were open, excited, and cooperative in listening to them. Upon recommendation of the Finance Council, the Parish Council prayerfully deliberated the matter and found it to be appropriate. In fact, the idea seemed to be an excellent opportunity for a new charism in our parish. The Parish Council approved to move forward with discussions 
in an exploratory fashion to determine feasibility.

Again, this is a vision for the future and many pieces need to be put in place particularly by CCSEM for this to be realized. However, the parish leadership both financial and lay see this as an exciting possibility and opportunity to partner with a solid organization who can bring about a sustainable usage of our buildings. “An appropriate transition” as we have been praying, not only to use our buildings well, but to make them compatible with our campus and mission and be, also as we have been praying, “a community resource.”

I bring this to your attention now after consulting with our Finance Chair, Bill Zuerblis, and our Parish Council President, John Dunstone, and members of the Council along with the AoD Properties Office because the vision has moved to examine zoning of the property and notices have been publicly placed on our buildings for a zoning hearing. So, if you hear of rumors, they are not rumors; but the very beginning, one might say, of the seeds of having our prayers answered.

Further announcements will be forthcoming as developments unfold. Thank you for your attention to this very important matter and continue to pray for our success that we may continue as our mission statement indicates: “to be a beacon of light and a sign of hope.”

Posted on: December 13, 2020

2020 Gold'n Harvest Wrapup

WOW! How can we ever say thanks but to say “Thanks be to God!” I worried so much this year that we would not have a successful raffle. But the “Gold’n Harvest” was golden indeed. Despite the pandemic and no parish breakfast, you, the parishioners, still stepped up to the plate (so to speak) and did a fantastic job! In fact, it was one of three best Gold’n Harvest Raffles to support our budget.

I want to thank everyone who extended themselves to sell tickets, I know it was not easy, to those that bought tickets, and those who supported us by hanging posters, letting people know of it, and keeping our success in your prayers. When I was sure we would fall short, due to a difficult year, we were very successful.

Also, I was so delighted for all the winners. All have a connection to the parish as parishioners, or in my case, the first place winner, is a long-time friend of mine and a yearly supporter of our Jazz Nite and of our Raffle since the beginning. Len has always bought numerous tickets as do all the people I send letters to. None of them have ever won. But this year, one of my people did, and I too felt like a winner. I want to thank all of my people for their kind and generous support. This year was a personal best, I sold $7,220 worth of tickets and donations toward the fundraising effort. Again, thank you and thanks be to God!

On another matter, this past Wednesday the Archdiocese of Detroit announced the make-up of the Family of Parishes. As of this writing, which goes to press before the official announcement, we most likely will be a part of the “Family” of St. Ambrose, St. Clare, and St. Matthew (If anything changes, I’ll let you know.). I feel good about this relationship because we have always had a good connection with these parishes. We cooperate already in many ways. From partnering in RCIA to shared use of our gym, to working together in St. Vincent de Paul. This new structure will not be easy for the entire diocese, but it makes it so much easier when the partners you have are of similar backgrounds. Our history goes back to the days of the Detroit/Grosse Pointe Vicariate of which I was Vicar for nine years, and I am confident that we can work together.

As information continues to come from the AoD, I’ll let you know when the “family of parishes” will begin for us. There will be two waves, one beginning in July 2021, and the second in July of 2022. There is much work to be done, and the Church in Detroit will definitely be structured differently, but this is what the Archbishop envisions as we face an ever- decreasing number priests for the foreseeable future.

God bless all of you,

Father Duane

Posted on: December 6, 2020

Start of Advent 2020

I noted in my homily on the first week of Advent that it is good to take a look behind us to see where we are going in the future. That simple task is part of our “Advent adventure.” As I did that, I reflected upon the memorial of the deceased we displayed in church, the Memorial Mass which I felt was very prayerful, and, especially, the Book of Remembrance in which you inscribed the names of parents, family, relatives, friends, and acquaintances. As the memorial was taken down for this year, I read each name you wrote. By name and inference, I could tell who wrote it. I prayed for each soul in the Book and for the one who remembered their friend or loved one. I was moved by the thoughtfulness you showed in taking the time to “remember.” My prayerful reflection was that no matter how young or old, recent or past, when that person died, he or she is still important to you, and you remembered. The Church teaches it is fitting and proper to pray for the dead. The community of faith remembers as we celebrate All Saints Day and All Souls Day, and we remember in our hearts those who were dear to us as we inscribe their names in the Book of Remembrance.

On a more temporal topic, today we have our Gold’n Harvest 50/50 Raffle Drawing. Due to the pandemic, we are not having our annual parish breakfast, and I am very disappointed in that. However, I am hopeful that our live-streamed drawing at noon today will be successful. I could tell parishioners tried very hard to make it a success by selling and buying as many tickets as they could.

Whatever the outcome, I want to say thank you for your efforts. This year has been very difficult and like so many others, we too are struggling financially. But with the grace of God and the cooperation of people we will get through this pandemic and life will return to normal.

Keep praying for a Bright and Happier New Year.
God bless all of you,
Father Duane