Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, April 15, 2013

Connected from the past - Rector's Rambling - April 14, 2013


St. John’s is a special place in many different ways: music, liturgy, and people.  One interesting thing about St. John’s (which I suppose might be true in many other parishes) is the sense of connectedness people feel to the parish, even though they are far away.  In my 12+ years here many people have moved out of state for employment and to be close to extended family, yet continue to stay in contact with the parish.  This is easier now than 20 years ago with things like the Web site and iTunes to hear sermons, YouTube to peek into the parish worship, and the interconnectedness of Facebook and Twitter.
This past Tuesday I buried a woman who began attending St. John’s in 1931 when she was 17 years old.  Doris McCormack had suffered the loss of both her parents, her mother in 1926, her father in 1931. While on a train to Michigan the grandmother she was going to live with passed away.  She moved in with her aunt Mabel Hall Dewar, who raised her, and cared for her, and in turn Doris cared for Mabel in her senior years.  Mabel passed away in 1958 and was buried from St. John’s in the mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery and Doris moved outstate, and then eventually to Arizona.
According to Doris’ daughter Janet Tawakalna, Doris always spoke of Mabel’s interment and that Mabel had purchased a space for her, but the location was lost to family history.  Doris passed away in 2004 at the age of 90 and was cremated, and it took Jan five years to discover, through a Google search, that Mabel had been buried from St. John’s.  She was listed in our weekly Chronicle as a “year’s mind” of death, and our burial register confirmed the burial in Woodlawn.  It took four more years to clear the title for the right for Doris’ cremated remains to be put in her final resting place.  And of course it is the ministry of this parish and a great honor to bury the dead, even those who have been far way for over 50 years.
Rest eternal grant to Doris and Mabel, and may light perpetual shine upon them.