Welcome to the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the seat of the Archbishop of Detroit and the mother church of the Archdiocese of Detroit. As our mother church, the Cathedral is the center of our community of faith. Archbishop Allen Vigneron refers to it as: “Everyone’s Church!” In other words, it is the “second parish” of the Catholic faithful in southeast Michigan.
Cathedrals are not just tourist destinations but places that can convey a sense of the spiritual and sacred, even to those who are not of the Christian faith. A cathedral is the center of worship, mission and is of significance to the heritage, culture and community life of the area it serves. The word cathedral is derived from the Greek word cathedra (“seat”), and refers to the presence and prominence of the archbishop’s chair or throne. Our cathedra is the large marble chair to the back right of the sanctuary. The archbishop is the only one who sits there, since Archbishop Vigneron is the metropolitan who shepherd’s the archdiocese (not even auxiliary or visiting bishops use it). Therefore, the cathedra symbolizes the Archbishop’s role in governing his archdiocese. We would not be a Cathedral if we did not have a bishop. To clarify that last statement, I serve as the pastor of the Cathedral Parish, and am Rector of the Cathedral, but this is the Archbishop’s Church. This means that I am delegated by the Archbishop to oversee the Cathedral and its programs and events for him, while he oversees the Archdiocese.
We are the fifth Cathedral to serve the church in Detroit. Detroit was made a diocese in 1833. Ste. Anne de Detroit, (near the Ambassador bridge, it is the first church in Detroit and the second oldest parish in the country), was established in 1701 and served as Detroit’s first Cathedral church. In 1848 Ss. Peter and Paul Church (across from the RenCen, and the oldest surviving church building in Detroit) was consecrated and made the cathedral of the Diocese of Detroit. From 1877 to 1890, St. Aloysius Church (on Washington Blvd. near the Book Cadillac) served as the temporary, or Pro-Cathedral, for the diocese. St. Patrick Church (burned and demolished in 1993) in Brush Park was elevated to cathedral status in 1890. St. Patrick would serve as Detroit’s cathedral until 1938, when Detroit was elevated from a diocese to an archdiocese. It was in that year that Cardinal Edward Mooney petitioned to have The Most Blessed Sacrament Parish become the new Cathedral because “… it is well located on Woodward Ave, the principal street of the city…the church is an imposing Gothic structure which for beauty of design and distinction of ornament would rank well among the cathedrals of the country.” Pope Pius XI granted his petition. The Vatican representative, who came to Detroit to inspect the proposed cathedral, later became Blessed Pope Paul VI. With the Great Depression and the World Wars delaying us, the 136 foot tall grand spires that tower over Woodward, were not completed until 1951. While we have had many famous/influential individuals as parishioners and visitors over the years, one in particular stands out- a saint. St. Pope John Paul II visited the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in 1987.
Presently we are both a parish church and a cathedral church and we have many celebrations and events that may benefit you. One in particular is the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Holy Door of Mercy. Pope Francis has called for this to be a jubilee year. Throughout year, Holy Doors have been opened at the major basilicas of Rome, as well as cathedrals worldwide, including the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. The faithful who make a pilgrimage and pass through a holy door receive a plenary indulgence. We have something unique here at our Cathedral Holy Door: a self-guided retreat/pilgrimage. I invite you to bring your family, friends, and parish groups to visit our Holy Door. Individuals and groups less than 15 can visit without an appointment on the First Friday of every month 9am-2pm and Sunday afternoons from 12-3pm. Groups 15+ must make an appointment by visiting our website: www.cathedral.aod.org While registration for a large group cannot be done over the phone, If you have any questions or concerns before scheduling your pilgrimage, please call (313) 596-7331.
I have only been rector here for 6 months and am happy to let you know that we have many exciting things to be unveiled in the future. I encourage you to visit our website frequently to be updated on the things that are happening at your mother church. I hope your experience here is a great one! I want to end with a quote St. John Paul II made during his visit to the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in 1987:
“It is indeed fitting that we greet each other here in this place of worship, in this cathedral dedicated to the Most Blessed Sacrament, since it is the Eucharist above all that expresses and brings unity with Christ and with one another… What great opportunities your city and its suburbs and rural areas give to the mission that is yours by baptism: To build up the body of Christ in unity by means of the gifts you have received.”