St. Gerard Church

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 26 October 2006.

Phone: 313-537-5770
The research was conducted by The University of Michigan-Dearborn Pluralism Project

History and Description

In June 1950, Father Joseph J. Dion was appointed to begin a new parish to serve the many Roman Catholics who were moving into the working- and lower-middle-class residential neighborhoods of northwest Detroit. On April 29, 1951, Father Dion and Father Jim Downes celebrated the first mass for the newly created parish. In 1962, plans were developed to build a church and rectory. The church was dedicated on August 7, 1965. By the mid-1960s, the parish had 1500 families. By the mid-1980s, however, membership had dropped to about 300 families as a function of "white flight" to the suburbs. Currently St. Gerard Church has approximately 700 households drawn from a wide variety of ethnic groups, including recent immigrants from Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Granada, Trinidad, Jamaica, St. Vincent, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Scotland, Poland, and Korea.


There is a school, preschool to grade 8. The current student body is all black, with eighty percent being non-Catholic. The school has in addition to classrooms, a gymnasium and a library.

Activities and Groups

The church has a Women's Club, a Youth Group, Club Fifty for adults over the age of fifty, and faith sharing groups for adults. The various parish commissions include the Christian Service Commission to address basic human needs and issues of social justice in both local and global contexts; the Education Commission is responsible for ongoing Christian formation and education of all members; the Worship Commission is responsible for coordinating all aspects of the liturgy.

In the Community

St Gerard's Church is currently associated with New Hope, a non-profit housing project that renovates homes and assists first-time homeowners. In addition, there is a food depot, which distributes food on Saturday morning to residents of metropolitan Detroit who have emergency food needs. St Gerard Church, along with St. David's Episcopal Church in Southfield, have sister parishes in Haiti. Fund raising and missions to Haitian parishes have assisted with church renovations, building schools and a health clinic.


Due to the shortage of priests, St. Gerard now shares two priests with two other Roman Catholic churches in Detroit.

Mass and Schedule

Masses at St Gerard are on Saturday at 4:00 p.m., and Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. The liturgy draws on tradition Catholic hymns and African American hymns from the African American Catholic Hymnal, "Lead Me, Guide Me."