PONTIAC — A small chapel in Pontiac with a huge devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her spouse, St. Joseph, celebrated 100 years of faith Oct. 15.
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron joined Fr. Alex Kratz, OFM, director of Terra Sancta Ministries, to celebrate the centennial of St. Joseph Chapel and its adjoining Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary during a blustery fall day with an outdoor Mass and celebration.
St. Joseph Chapel was originally established in 1923 as a mission church for Polish Catholics, and it became a parish of the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1939. The parish continued to grow and thrive, and in 1952, construction was completed on the church's Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary grotto chapel, which became a pilgrimage site for Catholics from all over the state, and is recognized as one of Michigan's six official Marian shrines.
As the city of Pontiac's population declined, the parish was merged in 2009 with two other nearby parishes to form St. Damien of Molokai Parish, but the chapel was closed in 2013. In 2015, Terra Sancta Ministries, a pilgrimage apostolate led by Fr. Kratz, purchased the building and reopened it in 2018. Today, the chapel is open twice a week for Mass, confessions, healing prayers, Eucharistic adoration and devotions.
During the Mass, Fr. Kratz thanked God for "100 years of being in this neighborhood," and urged those gathered to pray for peace in the Holy Land, where Terra Sancta Pilgrimage often travels.
(Photos by Alissa Tuttle | Special to Detroit Catholic)