Archbishop blesses new Heart of Christ Clinic in former convent of Ste. Anne

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron cuts the ceremonial ribbon signaling the opening of the Heart of Christ Clinic in southwest Detroit on the campus of the Basilica of Ste. Anne on Jan. 17. The clinic's director, Dr. Lisa Knysz, right, and the clinic's president and chair, Dr. Leisa Marie Carzon, left, stand next to him as Knights of Columbus members stand guard. (Photos by Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

New health clinic in southwest Detroit hopes to provide mothers, families an 'encounter with the Divine Physician'

DETROIT — Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron thanked God ahead of time for the "babies who will be born" and the men and women who will be served by a new Catholic health care clinic in southwest Detroit as he blessed the new facility Jan. 17.

The Heart of Christ Clinic opened in the newly renovated former convent of the Basilica of Ste. Anne, offering three floors of comprehensive care for women and children. The clinic will begin taking patients on Monday, Jan. 22, overseen by Dr. Lisa Knysz, the clinic's director.

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Approximately 65 donors, sponsors, employees and supporters gathered in the clinic Wednesday evening to dedicate the building, including Mike and Peggy O’Dea, founders of Mother and Unborn Baby Care in Southfield, as well as representatives from the project's many co-sponsors, including the Michigan State Council of the Knights of Columbus, Trinity Health, Ascension Health, the Christ Medicus Foundation, Order of Malta, Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, and the Basilica of Ste. Anne.

Archbishop Vigneron blesses the clinic's new ultrasound machine donated by Knights of Columbus Council 2950 from St. Lawrence Parish in Utica.
Archbishop Vigneron blesses the clinic's new ultrasound machine donated by Knights of Columbus Council 2950 from St. Lawrence Parish in Utica.

Louis Brown, executive director of the Christ Medicus Foundation, addressed those gathered in the clinic’s small chapel adjacent to the entrance, where family members will be able to sit and pray while their loved ones are seen.

“The body of Christ in Detroit is coming together to care for and heal God’s people, which is what our community, our state and our nation need more than ever,” Brown said. “Today, we see the Heart of Christ Clinic coming together to open its doors to heal and restore the community.”

As medical conscience rights are rolled back and abortion access expanded in Michigan and around the nation, communities are facing new challenges to care for the sick or struggling, Brown said. According to the U.S. surgeon general, the country also faces an epidemic of loneliness and isolation, Brown added.

People are desperate, Brown said — and the answer to that desperation is Christ.

“We are all desperate for Jesus Christ,” Brown said. “People are hungering to be in communion with our Lord and to be in communion with each other — to live eucharistically. Christ is the answer and place from whom all healing flows.”

Louis Brown, executive director of the Christ Medicus Foundation, one of the clinic's sponsors, addresses those gathered in the clinic’s small chapel adjacent to the entrance, where family members will be able to sit and pray while their loved ones are seen.
Louis Brown, executive director of the Christ Medicus Foundation, one of the clinic's sponsors, addresses those gathered in the clinic’s small chapel adjacent to the entrance, where family members will be able to sit and pray while their loved ones are seen.

The pro-life clinic will provide women's health services such as prenatal and postnatal care, OBGYN visits, and abortion reversal. The clinic also will offer comprehensive health care for the whole family and, down the road, offer vaccines for children. The clinic will accept all forms of insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare, and will work with those who lack it.

The Heart of Christ Clinic will provide a haven for the community of southwest Detroit to encounter Jesus Christ through medical care, Brown said.

“That’s what we’ll see here over time," Brown said. "We will see high-quality medical care. We will see mental health counseling, healing prayer ministry, the Mass and the sacraments. We’ll see the Divine Physician at work.”

Speaking with Detroit Catholic for an article in October 2023, Mike O'Dea said the vision for the clinic was borne out of a desire to better serve mothers who needed a wider range of medical services than the typical pro-life pregnancy resource center can provide.

“We wanted to make sure they were treated with the appropriate dignity,” Mike O'Dea told Detroit Catholic. “Things weren’t always working right for these women and girls, so they need to have someone who is really compassionate and caring, and we always dreamed that we could have a clinic that would put the health and welfare of these moms and their children first rather than just giving them the simple answer of aborting their children.”

In his own remarks before blessing the facility, Archbishop Vigneron echoed the words of Blessed Solanus Casey, saying the dedication is an opportunity to thank God ahead of time for what will be accomplished through the clinic.

“We thank God ahead of time for the babies who will be born, the mothers and fathers, and families that will be cared for," Archbishop Vigneron said. "We thank God ahead of time for the fruit that will come from those lives — and not just the lives of the babies, but all the lives that are healed through this, and I thank God for you."

Following the dedication and ceremonial ribbon cutting, the group was ushered to a third-floor examination room, where Archbishop Vigneron blessed a new ultrasound machine donated by Knights of Columbus Council 2950 from St. Lawrence Parish in Utica.

Speaking at the dedication, Knights of Columbus state deputy Christopher Kolomjec (fourth from right) said the Knights plan to continue to support the Heart of Christ Clinic and to support efforts to open similar clinics in each of Michigan's dioceses.
Speaking at the dedication, Knights of Columbus state deputy Christopher Kolomjec (fourth from right) said the Knights plan to continue to support the Heart of Christ Clinic and to support efforts to open similar clinics in each of Michigan's dioceses.

This machine was the 91st ultrasound machine donated by the Knights of Columbus as part of a statewide initiative. Two more machines donated by the Knights of Columbus are scheduled to be dedicated later this month in Escanaba and Charlotte.

Speaking at the dedication, Knights of Columbus state deputy Christopher Kolomjec said the Knights plan to support these efforts and see them through until the end.

“Everything we do in the Knights of Columbus, from the very beginning, has been to establish a commitment to the sacredness of life in all its phases and all its conditions,” Kolomjec said. “It’s clinics like this and all your efforts that actually provide much more to those that are needy.

"It's our dream that (efforts like the Heart of Christ Clinic) are in every diocese of the state and then across the country," he added. "The Knights of Columbus will be there from beginning to end. I can assure you of that."



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