Uncovering The History of Our Stained Glass Windows
Do you know where
the beautiful stained glass windows
in the church at Fatima came from?
All of the windows came from St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Detroit. St. Thomas the Apostle Parish (located on Townsend) was a Polish-American Roman Catholicparish founded in 1914, at the eastern edge of the east side Polish neighborhoods of Detroit. A church was constructed in 1923, and the parish had both a grade school and a high school. The parish was one of the first to experience changes in population, as the original Polish residents began moving out in the mid-20th century. The parish, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was closed in 1989.
After the parish was closed, and wishing to keep the history of the St. Thomas the Apostle alive, Fr. Paul was able to obtain some of the windows. He drafted many into service to find a way to use the windows at Fatima. Many of our parishioners worked diligently to repair and then create the light boxes to place the windows into. With love and commitment they dedicated themselves and their talents to seeing this project to completion. Among the many who worked on the windows were Jim Podzikowski and Aaron Chateau as well as the following men who have passed away: Frank Czarnecki, Michael Palcyznski, Art Lowry, Joe Rappazini, and Frank Gosztyla.
Recently, with the closing of St. Dennis in Royal Oak, Fr. Paul was able to obtain four more windows originally from St. Thomas the Apostle. The windows represent the Four Evangelists. Thanks to Aaron Chateau, John Armstrong and Page Engbarth for their hard work on the newest additions to our worship space.
Sadly, St. Thomas the Apostle Church was demolished shortly after it closed and many of the men who worked on these beautiful windows are now of Beloved Memory. However, St. Thomas the Apostle Church and these men live on in these windows and in our hearts. They are a rich part of the history of the Church in Detroit, our history and truly help to beautify and enhance the worship environment at Fatima Church.
Next time you are at Mass at Fatima perhaps you might want to arrive a little early or stay for a bit after Mass and take a look at the windows. You might be surprised at what you see in them.
Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish's participation
in the Michigan Stained Glass Census
Help us preserve history. We are in the process of registering the beautiful stained glass windows at St. James church in the Michigan Stained Glass Census. The Census is a statewide survey of architectural stained glass sponsored by the Michigan State University Museum. In the process of gathering information about the windows for the Census, it was discovered that there is very little surviving written documentation regarding the process of how they were chosen, sponsored, donated and installed.
Perhaps you can be of help…
If your family sponsored or participated in the donation of one of these treasures (the stained glass windows, stations of the cross, pillars, or other items) do you or a family member have any information about the process or experience that you might be willing to share? If you know some donor family member or descendants who might know something about the sponsorship/donor process, please mention this to them or direct them to this posting. We will use this information to help tell the story of the windows and artifacts.
We know that there are several families that sponsored a stained glass window at St. James where they belonged at the time and then attended Our Lady of Fatima. Now that we are Our Mother of Perpetual Help, this reunion provides an opportunity to bring us together in documenting our joint history. Our Lady of Fatima church also has beautiful stained glass windows with an interesting and important history that could be documented. There are many beautiful treasures and holy things at Our Lady of Fatima church which have a rich history. It would be important and interesting to capture and preserve this in a future project.
Even if you don't have any information to share, the next time you are at either church take a closer look at these wonderful pieces of art and history that grace our beautiful churches.
Please contact Ed Czarnecki at 248-250-2128 or by email at [email protected] with any information you can provide. You can also return written information to the office. Ed along with Tom Jaksa and Jim Carlson are heading up this project.
Thank you in advance for your assistance and participation,