St. Michael Parish, the mother church of Livonia's Catholics, was established July 8, 1931. Bishop Michael J. Gallagher appointed Father John Contway pastor. Ten families comprised the parish membership.
The first parish structure, erected on the six acre plot donated by the Shelden Land Company and dedicated October 21, 1931, served as a place of worship as well as a space for social gatherings. Now incorporated into our present school building, originally it contained a basement parish hall, chapel and two sacristies; the main floor had two classrooms for religious instruction. The chapel, with a seating capacity of 350, proved adequate for eighteen years.
75th Anniversary Mass - Adam Cardinal Maida
presiding at the Mass commemorating the 75th
anniversary of St. Michael the Archangel Parish.
From left: Deacon Robert Ervin, Fr. Greg Tokarski,
Fr. Alberto Bondy, Fr. William Tindall,
Fr. Andrew Forish, Adam Cardinal Maida,
Fr. Edward Baldwin, Fr. John Ward, and
Msgr. John Kasza (kneeling).
In September of 1936, the Felician Sisters began teaching CCD to St. Michael's youngsters. Initially, only five students were enrolled. By the end of the scholastic year, the number was seventy five. The pastor kept in close contact with the Sisters, attending the dedication of their new provincialate on November 21, 1936 in Livonia, located just three miles from St. Michael's Parish. Hence, the following year when several parents asked Father Contway about opening a parochial school, he requested the spiritual daughters of St. Felix. The parishioners began raising funds for the new school, but unfortunately, their efforts were brought to a halt because of World War II. The plans to build a new school were dropped; a decision to remodel the existing building being used as a social hall was made. It was divided into classrooms.
On September 21, 1942, St. Michael School became a reality. The faculty included Sister M. Adaline, Principal, Sister M. Alfreda, Sister M. Tulia, Sister M. Lauriana and Sister M. Providence. Since there was no parish convent, the Sisters resided at the Motherhouse and were driven to and from school each day by a parishioner. There were no buses for the children either.
On November 9, 1943, Father received permission to build the second story in order to accommodate the rapid growth of the school. The addition was started in January, 1944, and was completed in May. The upper story was the plan of a nationally famous builder, Mr. Branson Van Leer Gamber. He constructed the Detroit Federal Building.
In the 1944-45 school year, Sister M. Magdaline, Sister M. Richard and Sister M. Nepomocene were added to the faculty. Enrollment was 345 students. That year two buses were provided for the students' transportation. To the delight of the Sisters, Father Contway purchased a used station wagon for them to get to and from school. Also, for the first time since the school opened, there were no combined classes--each grade had a separate room. At its peak in 1965, St. Michael School enrolled 1165 students. At that time, it was the second largest elementary institution in the Archdiocese. St. Veronica's in Eastpointe was the largest.
As is evident from its history, the parish grew rapidly. In 1949, the Activities Building was constructed to serve as a one-story church. Designed to be easily converted into a gymnasium, it was built and completely furnished for $140,000. A new convent with a dozen bedrooms and a school addition were built in 1950. A new rectory was dedicated the following year.
In 1962, a new and permanent church was erected on the corner of Plymouth Road and Hubbard. The former church was soon a full time activities building and the parish realized the fulfillment of the construction of a large complex.
In May 1996, a million dollar building fund campaign was launched. Initially, the goal was exceeded by $16,000; later pledges brought the total to $1,284,480. The old gym-church structure was razed on May 31, 1997. Groundbreaking for the estimated $3.4 million school addition was held on September 24, 1997. The architectural firm chosen for the project was Harold H. Fisher & Associates, Inc. (Harper Woods, MI); the Jonna Construction Company (Birmingham-Bloomfield Hills, MI) was the general contractor. Six classrooms, library, computer room, a full-court gym and cafeteria were finished in time for the opening of the 1998-1999 academic year on September 8. The final cost of the building was $3,548,052. Formal dedication ceremonies were held October 11, 1998; Bishop John Nienstedt presided. At that time, the gymnasium was named in honor of Mr. Ed Day, volunteer parish CYO Athletic Director for forty-two years.
When Farther Contway died in 1956, twenty-five years after the parish foundation, 1,425 families were registered. He was succeeded by Rev. Thomas McMahon, who in 1962 saw to the construction of the present church on Plymouth and Hubbard Roads. Father Andrew Forish served as pastor from 1966-1987; he was succeeded by Rev. Edward Baldwin, who remained until January of 1992. Father Alberto Bondy became St. Michael's pastor in March of 1992 and remained until June of 2001. Father Edmund Borycz became the sixth pastor at that time, and was followed by Father David West, Administrator. Father William Tindall replaced Father West as pastor on May 1, 2003.
St. Michael's many dedicated organizations and generous, hard-working parishioners witness to the truth that the Church is not only divine, but makes good sense, too! We are not alone in life, nor are we following Christ or attempting to lead the gospel way of life in seclusion. We do it with others-all trying to express the same Catholic values. The Church is embodied and made real in the many exemplary Christian families that live the Faith. They are the concrete expression of the Church.