More than 300 people were in attendance Sunday, October 16, for the inaugural Mass conducted by members of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICRSS).
The Liturgy was celebrated by the Institute's provincial superior, Canon Matthew Talarico, assisted by Canon Michael Stein and Deacon Jonathon Fehrenbacher.
In his address to the parish before Mass, Canon Michael Stein mentioned that Satan had been making things very difficult for ICK members in the week leading up to the inaugural Mass, but added that seeing everyone gathered for Mass was reassuring.
He spoke of the new Mass schedule and other devotions including solemn vespers every Sunday evening and perpetual novenas to St. Joseph and Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Newly renamed St. Joseph Oratory, St. Joseph Church was its own parish until 2004 when it was clustered with two Polish churches, St. Josaphat and Sweetest Heart of Mary, to constitute Mother of Divine Mercy Parish. On August 29 the archdiocese officially announced the would again be its own parish and the Institute would take possession of it.
With dwindling attendance — a phenomenon in most parishes in the United States — Abp. Allen Vigneron thought it necessary to cluster St. Joseph with St. Josaphat and Sweetest Heart in order to prevent its closing.
Ongoing structural problems, such as emergency steeple repair in the summer of 2016, has made it even more difficult to keep the church viable. Auxiliary bishop Donald Hanchon noted on August 29 that Abp. Vigneron had been telling the auxiliary bishops in their weekly meetings he wants St. Joseph's to be a shrine because of its "rich history and beautiful buildings."
Built by German immigrants between 1870–1873, the victorian gothic church is one of the oldest churches in Detroit with most of its original appointments still intact. Most noticeable are the stained glass windows and hand-carved wooden furnishings all over the church, including the high altar and pulpit.
Detroit is home to a large and young group of Catholics devoted to the Traditional Latin Mass. Archbishop Vigneron had previously commented that they deserve to have comprehensive pastoral care, requiring pastors who have been formed exclusively to offer the TLM and are dedicated to it.
Initially, the TLM had disappeared from many parishes after Pope Paul VI instituted a new order of Mass in 1970. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the "New Mass" was celebrated in Detroit in Latin and presented with choral and orchestral arrangements.
In 1991 the bishop of London in Ontario, Canada allowed the TLM to be celebrated in Windsor, across the river from Detroit. In 2004, owing to the efforts of a dedicated group of laymen, Detroit's archbishop allowed the TLM to be celebrated regularly at St. Josaphat. From 2007 it spread to Assumption Grotto parish, and now, owing to the organization Juventutem Michigan, parishes and young people throughout the archdiocese have opportunities throughout the archdiocese to enjoy the traditional liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church.
Although St. Joseph Oratory is richly decorated, the rectory is in need of refurbishing and furniture. Canon Stein noted in his address to parishioners before Mass that if anybody is able to assist in any way to please contact the rectory at firstname.lastname@example.org