Three winners chosen from among more than 200 entries depicting the life and ministry of Detroit's famed 'second founder'
DETROIT — After analyzing more than 200 artistic entries from Catholic students across the Archdiocese of Detroit, the Father Gabriel Richard Guild has awarded three students $1,000 and an additional $1,000 to their respective schools, courtesy of Concorde Financial.
Madelyn Demura, a freshman at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Marine City, earned the top spot in the high school division. For grades five through eight, Jack Bishop of Guardian Angels School in Clawson created the winning depiction of Fr. Richard. Julia Hernandez, a fourth grader at Shrine Catholic Grade School in Royal Oak, finished first at the elementary level.
The Father Gabriel Richard Art Contest, hosted by the Basilica of Ste. Anne and the Father Gabriel Richard Guild, a group dedicated to promoting the life of Detroit’s saintly priest, aimed to raise awareness about Fr. Richard’s life among the region’s youngest generations.
Demura had no idea who Fr. Richard was prior to the contest, but researched and ultimately decided to try an artistic medium she had just begun to experiment with: watercolor paint. With a stoic depiction of Fr. Richard at the center of her artwork, Demura also represented various aspects of his storied life.
A blazing fire over his left shoulder reveals the seminal leadership role Fr. Richard played during the Great Fire of 1805 that decimated the city of Detroit. Above the flames, Demura painted an American flag that is somewhat eclipsed by a wooden cross, indicating how Fr. Richard brought his Catholic faith into the public sphere, especially during his years as a member of the U.S. Congress in the early 1820s.
In the upper right hand corner is a colonial class in session. This aspect of the watercolor painting directly points to Fr. Richard’s efforts in the realm of education throughout southeast Michigan. Below is a beautiful depiction of the current appearance of the Basilica of Ste. Anne de Detroit, the parish that Fr. Richard served for more than three decades as its pastor.
Perhaps the most unique feature of Demura’s work is how she represented Fr. Richard’s hopeful vision for Detroit. In the lenses of his glasses, the modern skyline of the Motor City appears on the future’s horizon.
Jennifer Stachelski, Cardinal Mooney's principal, had complete confidence in her student’s artistic abilities.
“I told Maddy that when she turned it in that hers would be the winner,” Stachelski said.
Both Bishop and Hernandez, the respective winners of the middle school and elementary school divisions, took similar approaches with different artistic mediums. Bishop, who expressed his lifelong passion for art, opted to create a rendition of Fr. Richard in marker. The eighth grade Guardian Angels School student focused on creating colorful images that reflected Fr. Richard’s various ministries as missionary pastor, educator and civic leader. Above his depiction of Ste. Anne’s priest in traditional clerics, Bishop included the priest’s famous words after the 1805 fire that ultimately became the city of Detroit’s motto: “We hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes.”
“I really didn’t know much about him before I started,” Bishop admitted, “but after doing research I was amazed at all that he was involved in.”
After a school field trip to the Basilica of Ste. Anne, Hernandez decided to sketch artifacts associated with Fr. Richard's life. Among other things, she depicted copies of the Impartial Observer, an early Michigan newspaper he printed, and a math book, which was his favorite subject to teach. Also included in Hernandez’s artwork is Fr. Richard’s iconic wireframe glasses and a Block M, representing the formative role he played in founding the University of Michigan. She finished the drawing by coloring it with crayon.
When asked what she planned on doing with the money, Hernandez gleefully responded, “I think I want to get my classmates a ball pit or erasers!”
With 235 artistic pieces submitted and 23 different parochial schools participating, the guild hopes to continue the contest next year.
All participating students and their families, including those who earned honorable mention (see list below), are invited to a special ceremony with refreshments on Sunday, Sept. 17, after the noon Mass at the Basilica of Ste. Anne de Detroit. It will coincide with the annual Fr. Gabriel Richard exhibit honoring his life of service. The winning art pieces along with select others will be displayed as part of the exhibit. The public is welcome to join the reception to see the students’ original art alongside artifacts from Fr. Richard’s life.
Joe Boggs is president of the Fr. Gabriel Richard Guild and writes this article for Detroit Catholic. To join the Guild’s mission in preserving Fr. Richard’s legacy and promoting his virtuous life, visit this webpage.
Father Gabriel Richard Art Contest Winners
Grades 9 –12
- Madelyn Demura, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School
- Aaron Hopersberger, Chesterton Academy of Our Lady of Guadalupe
- Abby Beres, Austin Catholic High School
- Katie Lee, Fr. Gabriel Richard High School
- Olivia Heithoff, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School
- Rachel Klinkhammer, Fr. Gabriel Richard High School
- Sarah Parks, Fr. Gabriel Richard High School
- Jack Bishop, Guardian Angels
- Aerin Higgens, Academy of the Sacred Heart
- Addison Kurzatkowski, Our Lady of Good Counsel
- Ava Perino, St. Edith Livonia
- Cecilia Fischer, Academy of the Sacred Heart
- Delaney Childs, Guardian Angels
- Madeline Sullivan, Guardian Angels
- Julia Hernandez, Shrine Catholic Grade School
- Boone Miller, Our Lady of Good Counsel
- Julia Smith, St. John's Elementary School Monroe
- Lucy Ann Wood, St. Mary/McCormick Academy
- Monroe Byrd, Most Holy Trinity Catholic Academy
- Roxanne Keenan, Most Holy Trinity Catholic Academy
- Shannon Isola, Shrine Catholic Grade School
- Sophia Weitzel, Guardian Angels