Late pastor’s vision to honor Wyandotte’s historic Catholic churches comes to life

Fr. Brendan McCarrick, SAC, administrator of St. Vincent Pallotti Parish in Wyandotte, holds up artist’s renderings for the new stained glass windows that will soon be installed at the parish's St. Joseph Church. The new windows not only will restore the structural integrity of the church, but will also honor Wyandotte’s six historic Catholic parishes, a dream of late former pastor Fr. Michael Cremin, SAC. (Photos by Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Before he died, Fr. Michael Cremin, SAC, planned new stained-glass windows for St. Vincent Pallotti; now, his parish is making it happen

WYANDOTTE — By September 2021, Fr. Brendan McCarrick, SAC, plans to have finished installing 20 new stained-glass windows in St. Joseph Church of St. Vincent Pallotti Parish. 

The new windows will be beautiful, but they’re much more than a beautification project for Wyandotte’s Catholics. When completed, they’ll honor the area’s Catholic history by representing each of the city’s six historic parishes: St. Helena, St. Elizabeth, St. Joseph, St. Stanislaus Kostka, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Patrick.

They’ll also honor St. Vincent Pallotti’s late pastor, Fr. Michael Cremin, SAC. 

Installing the new windows was Fr. Cremin’s passion project before he died in September 2019 after a battle with cancer, said Fr. McCarrick, the parish’s current administrator and a fellow Irish Pallottine priest.

The images were chosen by a small parish committee comprised of parishioners both old and young. Fr. McCarrick said the project will honor the history of Catholicism in Wyandotte, as well as St. Vincent Pallotti’s late former pastor, Fr. Michael Cremin, SAC. 

Fr. McCarrick’s desire is to have all the windows installed by Sept. 18, 2021, the second anniversary of Fr. Cremin’s death, in order to honor his legacy and vision.

“It was Fr. Michael’s vision to beautify the church. His legacy to the church was this idea,” Fr. McCarrick said. “He spent 15 years at this parish. As priests, we are all aware that we only pass through the parish for a period of time, but the church still belongs to the people.”

Over the years, a majority of Wyandotte’s Catholic parishes have closed or merged. St. Helena closed in 2008, and is now an apartment complex. In 2012, St. Elizabeth, St. Patrick and Joseph merged to become St. Vincent Pallotti, and St. Stanislaus and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel merged in 2013 to create Our Lady of the Scapular Parish.

Both the former St. Elizabeth and St. Stanislaus churches were deconsecrated shortly afterward, and the former St. Elizabeth site is currently up for sale.

“In order to remember both the history of Catholicism and Wyandotte, we chose to take their images and put them on stained glass,” Fr. McCarrick told Detroit Catholic. The images have been chosen by a small parish committee, comprised of both older and younger parishioners.

In addition to the six windows honoring each parish, the project will include four additional windows in the body of the church, two in the gallery and eight in the sanctuary. 

Fr. McCarrick’s desire is to have all the windows installed by Sept. 18, 2021, the second anniversary of Fr. Cremin’s death, in order to honor his legacy and vision.

For the remaining images in the main part of the church, the committee decided to honor the parish’s new namesake, St. Vincent Pallotti, as well as Mary, Mother of Divine Love, Blessed Solanus Casey and St. Anne, the archdiocese’s patroness.

The gallery windows will be eucharistic images. Fr. McCarrick said the placement is intentional, as these windows will be visible to the faithful as they return to their seats after receiving Communion. 

Finally, the eight images in the sanctuary will be based on Jesus’ “I Am” phrases from John’s Gospel. 

“In John’s Gospel, there are the seven ‘I Am’ phrases,” Fr. McCarrick said. “The first one is ‘I Am,’ on its own, then, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’; ‘I am the good shepherd …’ So we go through the remaining seven phrases and we place them on the sanctuary windows.”

Thompson Art Glass, a stained-glass window company based in Brighton, will produce and install the new windows based on the artistic designs of Joe Hosler. 

The project to replace the windows began five years ago, Fr. McCarrick said. 

The cost of replacing each window is expensive, about $22,000 per window, but parishioners have generously donated toward the project in honor of loved ones who have died, Fr. McCarrick said. 

The original, single-paned stained-glass windows were first installed in 1958, and with time and wear, became in desperate need of repair. After evaluating the situation and conferring with his finance and parish councils, Fr. Cremin concluded it would be more cost-efficient and beneficial in the long term to replace the windows completely. 

The cost of replacing the windows is approximately $645,000, but parishioners have generously donated toward the project in memory of deceased loved ones, Fr. McCarrick said. Fr. Cremin was the first to do so, claiming the St. Vincent Pallotti window in memory of his deceased family members. 

“Each of the first 10 windows has had sponsorship come forth, which indicates to us that people want it to enhance the church, but also want to remember their loved ones perpetually in the future,” Fr. McCarrick said. 

Fr. McCarrick said the parish has set a fundraising goal of April 30, 2021, and is about halfway to that target. The parish has already signed a contract with Thompson Art Glass, and by December 2020 plans to have the first four windows installed.