Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 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 160 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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A warning shot across the bow?

This was posted on Canon Kendall Harmon's site, from The Living Church.

Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor Threatens Fort Worth, Quincy Dioceses
October 30th, 2006 posted by kendall at 7:11 pm
The Living Church
On the eve of Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s investiture as the 26th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, her chancellor, David Booth Beers, has written identical letters to the chancellors of two traditionalist dioceses demanding that they change language “that can be read as cutting against an ‘unqualified accession’ to the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.
“The timing of this letter is shocking,” Fort Worth Bishop Jack L. Iker told The Living Church. “Some of the changes he refers to go back as far as 1989. All this was done completely out in the open and news of it was distributed widely. We have kept the Presiding Bishop informed at every step.
“We are still contemplating our response, but I think we will refuse to take the ‘bait’ by responding in kind,” Bishop Iker said. “We will probably refer him to our website where our constitution and canons are published.”
In recent years, four dioceses – Fort Worth (Texas), Pittsburgh, Quincy (Ill.) and San Joaquin (Calif.) – have amended their constitutions to qualify the diocese’s accession to General Convention, reserving the right of the diocese to reject bylaws which in their view contradict scripture and/or historic church teachings. Spokespersons for Pittsburgh and San Joaquin reported being unaware of receiving a similar letter. Fort Worth, Quincy and San Joaquin are the only three dioceses in The Episcopal Church which do not ordain women.
Mr. Beers concludes his letter stating “should your diocese decline to take that step, the Presiding Bishop will have to consider what sort of action she must take in order to bring your diocese into compliance.”
Bishop Iker questioned whether this was possible given that in September, Bishop Jefferts Schori told him to his face at a special meeting in New York City called by the Archbishop of Canterbury that the Presiding Bishop has no jurisdiction or oversight of dioceses under Episcopal Church polity. Also during September, a disciplinary review board rejected holding San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield guilty of abandoning the communion of this church for similar changes made to its constitution by convention in that diocese.
Steve Waring

All Hallows Eve, All Saints, All Souls

I hope you have a blessed All Hallows Eve (usually shortened to Hallowe'en). Today is the Eve of All Saints (Hallows) Day, which is November 1st. Before we remember the saints, tonight is that sugar filled evening of merriment and mischief!

Tomorrow is All Saints Day. We will remember this at the 12:15pm Service in our Chapel. On All Saints Day we remember those who have gone before us, following Jesus, and living lives of heroic virtue. We remember them as a wonderful example and inspiration to us to live lives of holiness!

Thursday is All Souls Day. It is the day we remember our beloved dead. Over the history of the Church, although St. Paul calls all in the Church, The Saints (ie...those seeking holiness), there has been an understanding that some have certainly obtained a greater holiness (All Saints Day), and the rest, though Saved, were perhaps not quite as holy at death. We have lots of relatives whom we love, and they followed Jesus, but we certainly know they were not Saints on earth! From this has developed All Souls Day on November 2nd.

Another tradition of the Church is to have the priest do 3 services on All Souls Day, which we do at St. John's. The three offer three different opportunities to parishioners.

At 10am we will have a short (25 minute) Communion Service at Elmwood Cemetery, in their chapel. Here is buried all but a few parishioners from St. John's in her first 70+ years, beginning in 1859. Although we won't mention all of them by name, we will offer their names and memories up in general. Anyone who is there for the service, I would be happy to direct them to the graves of our founder, Henry Porter Baldwin, and our first Rector, Bishop Armitage. Elmwood is still and active cemetery and more info can be found at http://elmwoodhistoriccemetery.org/ The cemetery is still owned by a local board of trustees, not an impersonal national corporation, and I encourage it for your consideration (I am on the Foundation Board).

At 11:15 we will have another short Requiem Mass in the Chapel at St. John's. At this service all the names of those submitted will be read aloud. These names will be published in the bulletin for the later service

At 7:00pm will will have our big service, a Choral Requiem Mass, with our full professional choir presenting Faure's Requiem. Be sure to invite your friends, family, and neighbors to join us for this great opportunity to hear the choir as well as worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!

If you have names of beloved dead you would like remembered at the altar at St. John's please send them to officemanager@stjohnsdetroit.org before November 1st, 5pm so they can be published.

Monday, October 30, 2006

House of God, Gate of Heaven.

I read a wonderful bit from a sermon by Br. Paschal, SSF (the English Branch of the Society of St. Francis), given at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham and published in their Fall 2006 Walsingham Review. It is reprinted here with Br. Paschal and the shrine's permission

So often we can 'soft-focus' the joyful mystery of the Annunciation. But it was a sudden moment of radical decision. To defend self or surrender? So just as Jesus had his Gethsemane moment, "Yet not my will but thine be done," so Mary had her own Gethsemane moment too, in that little house with its narrow entrance. "Let it be according to your Word."

Mary's path to exaltation came via self-emptying. She followed in joyful trust the way of the Gospel, the way of paradox. Dying we rise, letting go we find true life, humbling ourselves we find we are raised up.

Yet we find it so hard to let go of many things in order to pass through this narrow gate, and what we have to let go of is different for all of us. St. John of the Cross has a very telling little image for us. He askes us to imagine a bird tied down with somthing around one of its legs. It could be a think piece of rope or it could be a silk thread. Whichever it is, the result is the same - it cannot fly! Somtimes what we need to be release from is not someting clear and obvious like a piece of rope but something finer and almost hidden from us, like a silk thread.

Perhaps we need to let go of the unforgiving spirit that holds us captive to past hurts, or the negative emotions of anger, greed, pride, or lust? Perhaps we need to relinquish our desparate hold on our individualism, self-sufficiency and lonely isolation, remembering that Heaven is the life of commuion. Most of us have to stop clinging to the safe shores of convetion and instead risk the Gospel promises! Mary beckons us to surrender all these things and to put our turst in a God who feeds, nourishes, and sustains us. And her example also reminds us that the narrow gate is humility, the foundation stone for any spiritual life.

Other appearances....

The Pioneer Press, in Minneapolis, reprinted a portion of the Free Press Article on the AP wire.

The Miami Herald printed this, from a phone interview last week.
During the World Series, Kilpatrick wants lights turned on in the empty buildings that surround the Tigers' Comerica Park -- just as he did during the 2005 All-Star Game and last February's Super Bowl -- to keep the city from looking like a ghost town on national television.
And downtown actually is getting better said the Rev. Steven Kelly, pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church, which sits across the street from the ballpark. But none of the returning merchants is likely to revitalize the area more than the Tigers.
Not only has the team's success filled the stadium -- the Tigers drew 2.6 million fans this year, the second-highest total in franchise history behind only the 1984 championship team -- but it has kept the stadium open a month longer than normal, meaning an extra two paychecks for thousands of ushers, vendors and parking lot attendants.
Plus, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce estimates the financial impact of the team's postseason run at $73.5 million.
''I can remember when I first came here,'' said Kelly, who grew up in Detroit and came to St. John's five years ago. ``I could schedule events at the church in August, and not have to worry about a conflict with the crowd at a Tiger game.''
Still, it's the intangible benefits that might provide the greatest impact in the long-term.
''From a psychological perspective, I think it helps,'' Kelly said. ``I was there when they clinched [the division series] against the Yankees and people just stood and cheered for maybe an hour. It's tough not to feel good about yourself during something like that.''


On the Detroit Tigers Home Page

I had a phone chat with Jason Beck, the reporter for MLB.com, specifically the Detroit Tigers page. I met him a few years ago, and we email occasionally. We had a nice 30 minute chat about the Tigers - a great person to talk baseball with!

This was on the Tigers page under the title
"Warm memories linger in chilly Detroit:
Tigers return without ado, but fans cling to remnants of magic"

Yet around downtown, there were still some reminders of the magical run the Tigers had taken to the World Series with the city along for the ride. Among them, on the other side of Woodward Avenue, the marquee on both the Fox Theatre and State Theatre thanked the Tigers "for a great season."
More importantly, those who witnessed the magic won't soon forget how it unfolded, despite the disappointing end.
"It's pretty disappointing," said Fr. Steven Kelly, Rector at St. John's Episcopal Church next door to Comerica Park. "But soon after they lost [Friday] night, it kind of dawned on me: If you had told me last year that they would be in the World Series, I would've laughed. We really got two extra months [of games], because it's the first time in a while that the games in September meant something. I was more depressed about it last night at 12:30, and a bit more optimistic later looking forward to next year."
Like the theaters, Fr. Kelly changed his signs. Where his electronic board once read, "Pray for the Tigers," the sign reads, "Thank God for the Tigers."

And later in the article

But as nearly everyone pointed out, the bright side of at least getting to the World Series is that the offseason is four weeks shorter. The other change on Fr. Kelly's sign outside the church points out that Opening Day is April 2.

The entire article can be found at www.tigers.com or directly at

Parishioner Dave Schafer gets a quote

In an article following up on how depressing it was downtown on Saturday, with no Tiger World Series game to be played (combined with a terrible rain), we see this quote in the Free Press.

A battle of the bands
Back outside, people were going to a stadium -- but it was Ford Field, which was hosting a high school state band competition.
One of the parking lots near Comerica Park, Lot 3 on Montcalm, adjoining St. John's Episcopal Church, was nearly a quarter filled. The fee to park was $6, compared with $20 last weekend.
"It would have been a madhouse today if they had won -- an absolute madhouse," said David Schafer, whose daughter, Susan, plays trumpet for Troy Athens' marching band.
Of course, Schafer said he had hoped for a Tigers' victory Friday night.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Mentioned in Baltimore

This columnist leads off with our sign, but the article is really about how sports championships rarely lead to real economic growth. For our neighborhood, having the team winning has sure been helpful to the economy!

DETROIT - Next door to Comerica Park sits St. John's Episcopal Church, where an electronic sign beckons with bright orange letters, "Pray here for the Tigers." The plea should erase any doubt that religion and baseball intersect sharply in the Motor City.
But the role sports plays - the role the Tigers play - can be a bit tougher to dissect.
The electricity that flowed through the stadium for last night's World Series opener was evident - so evident, in fact, that first glance would lead you to believe it lit up the whole neighborhood. But actually, that was the doing of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who had three empty buildings illuminated so television images wouldn't depict a barren downtown.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Who would have thought it?

The Cardinals beat the Tigers tonight 4-2, to win the series 4 games to 1. Bummer.

Thank God for a very good season for our neighbors, the Tigers (only a few wins away from the best type of season - championship).

After an amazing 3 year turn around, it was great to see them play so well during the regular season, beat the Yankees and sweep the A's in the play-offs, and play in the World Series...but I do wish they hadn't committed those errors in the past four days!

Hey...about 110 days until the pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training (mid-February), and only 157 days until Opening Day 2007, - Monday, April 2nd versus Toronto (tentative). PRAY HERE FOR THE TIGERS Service will be on April 1st, 2007!

In 15 months we hosted the All-Star game, Super Bowl, and World Series in our neighborhood. It is all good for the neighborhood and St. John's.

I hope this coming year will be the year the local teams are able to finish off their seasons with championships. The region watched as the Pistons, Red Wings, and for most of the season the Tigers had the best records in their leagues their past season, only to lose in the play-offs or championship series. At least the Shock won their championship. The Lions have some rebuilding to do still.

What is the Roman Archdiocese thinking????

Christians believe Jesus Chrsit is Lord. Those who follow muhammad expressly state that Jesus Christ is NOT Lord. Why in the world is the Roman Archdiocese of Detroit selling a building that was built to serve the faithful, by the faithful, and propagate the Gospel of Jesus Christ - to a group that expressly denies the saving act of our merciful Lord? SHAME, SHAME, SHAME! Is it a case of the archdiocese so desparate for money that they would sell the building to those who deny our Lord? I wonder how many talents of silver they got for it?

Detroit church to be reborn as a mosque
Kim Kozlowski / The Detroit News
DETROIT -- As a child, Mary Ann Rice considered Our Lady Help of Christians Church a second home.
A daughter of Polish immigrants, she attended its elementary school and worshipped there in Masses said in her native tongue.
After 83 years, the church will celebrate its final Mass on Sunday and become the first church in the Archdiocese of Detroit sold to a mosque. It will cater to a new crop of immigrants -- from Bangladesh, primarily."It's going to hurt," said Rice, 68. "There are a lot of memories there. But you've got to go with the times."
The Islamic Center of North Detroit has a purchase agreement with the Archdiocese of Detroit for Our Lady Help of Christians' five buildings, which tentatively are planned to be used for an Islamic community center, larger worship space and possibly a school.
The conversion of the Detroit buildings, on the Hamtramck border, from church to Muslim center underscores how much the community's makeup has changed. Long-entrenched Catholic churches have had to downsize as their congregations moved to the suburbs and other immigrant groups moved in.
Hamtramck and nearby Detroit neighborhoods flourished in the early 1900s when automotive jobs attracted Eastern European immigrants, primarily from Poland. The Poles brought their culture, foods and Catholic faith to Hamtramck and soon Polish-themed restaurants, markets and churches sprung up in the area.
But in a trend familiar to immigrants in scores of other neighborhoods across the country, the Poles eventually started moving to the suburbs, especially to Sterling Heights and Warren.
Urban Catholic parishes suffered as onetime parishioners built up faith communities closer to their new homes. A priest shortage has prompted Catholic Archdioceses locally and around the nation to have one priest serve several churches, merge congregations or close churches. Scores of churches in the Archdiocese of Detroit already have experienced this change.
On Sunday, Our Lady Help of Christians parishioners will say farewell to the church that hosted weddings and funerals for generations.
They'll also lament the loss of a close-knit community that has shrunk to 134 families, a small fraction of the congregation in its heyday. The congregation will merge with nearby Transfiguration Church, another Polish Catholic community. When that happens, the Catholic relics will go to other local parishes and a new church in Poland.
The pending sale of the building to a mosque is a first for the Archdiocese of Detroit, though it has already leased one of its properties to Muslims. Officials declined to say where.
Meanwhile, the neighborhood has evolved from a predominantly Polish one to a neighborhood with many immigrants hailing from Bangladesh, a mostly Muslim nation near India, and India.
Census data shows the neighborhood's Asian population exploded from 249 people with Asian ancestry in 1990 to 421 Bangladeshi and 530 Indian residents in 2000. In contrast, the Polish population slid from 878 to 394 in the same period.Among the new residents is Mohammed Moshon, who is from Bangladesh. He is looking forward to the expansion of his mosque, where upward of 300 parishioners attend Friday prayers. He's especially glad there might be a school that could be an alternative to Detroit Public Schools for his two sons and daughter."It's going to be good for the neighborhood," said Moshon, "because (the mosque) is going to take care of the community."
John Gorman, who has lived across the street from the Catholic complex for 13 years, is glad the buildings vacated by the Catholics won't stand empty."We've got enough abandoned buildings in the world," said Gorman, who is not a member of the church or mosque. "We don't need any more."
Gorman has watched his neighborhood change over the years and says the Bangladeshis are nice, quiet neighbors who have brought the laughter of children back to the aging neighborhood. But not everyone is pleased.
Watching the mosque take down the crosses, Polish icons and other Catholic symbols is going to be difficult for Bart Nowak."They are going to destroy the place," said Nowak, who moved to the neighborhood from Poland with his parents in 1999.
Nowak is angry with the church for abandoning a community that many people characterized as an extended family."It's not a happy story," Nowak said.
The businesses along Joseph Campau, Hamtramck's main commercial drag, are testimony to the wave of new immigrants in the community. Though many Polish markets and restaurants still dot the corridor, businesses that cater to Bangladeshi, Lebanese and Bosnian immigrants are established in the area.
As sad as it may be for some people, Our Lady Help of Christians' neighborhood is no longer dominated by Polish Catholics so it makes sense for the Islamic community to move in, said the Rev. Andrew Wesley."
This whole neighborhood is Islamic," said Wesley, pastor of Transfiguration and St. Ladislaus, another Polish parish. "This will fit right in."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

CBC news

This was on the Canadian Broadcasting Corps. news page.

The electronic board outside St. John's Episcopalian Church – a decidedly atypical Comerica Park neighbour – implores fans to "pray for the Tigers." In the steeple's shadow, an old, homeless man paces, singing the refrain, "Eat 'em up Tigers! Eat 'em up!" as he rattles a single coin around the bottom of his tin donation cup.
"There hadn't been a whole lot to cheer about lately," said Rev. Steven Kelly, who held a mass for the Tigers at St. John's before the regular season and the playoffs.
"I pray in hard times and I pray in easy times, too."
It appears the prayers are paying off. After 12 consecutive losing seasons, the Tigers turned things around in 2006, winning 96 games before knocking off the heavily favoured New York Yankees, and then the Oakland Athletics to capture the American League pennant.

The rest of the story can be found at

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Big in Texas, written from Milwaukee

Here is a mention from the American Statesman, Austin, TX. It is written by Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He gets the jist of the Banner right...an invitation to come to St. John's to pray!

The Tigers have done all that and more, mixing youth with established veterans, taking chances on Kenny Rogers and Doug Jones, giving one of the game's most insightful general managers the latitude and the resources to do his job, and convincing Leyland that he belonged back in a major-league dugout.
You seek NL redemption, but understand reality.
A nearby church advertises to pray inside for the Lions and Tigers.
The Tigers don't need help.
Detroit in five.

The rest of the article can be found at

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mocked in St. Louis...

What can you expect from the opponent's home newspaper?

This was in a column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
As if God cares who wins — Fans wanting to appeal to a higher authority for the two Detroit sports teams playing Sunday were invited to "Pray here for the Tigers & Lions" at St. John's Episcopal Church near Comerica.
An electronic message board out front of the Woodward Avenue church gave times for Sunday services (8 a.m. and 10 a.m.) and weekday services (12:15 p.m.)

I emailed the author and let him know we pray because we are bidden to Love our neighbors as our selves" and praying for them is one way we love! I also said that if the Cardinals are able to win a game in St. Louis and they have to come back to Detroit to finish losing the Series to the Tigers, they should join us at St. John's.

The rest of the article can be found at

Monday, October 23, 2006

Our office manager in the London Guardian

Yet more newspaper coverage.... yet Paul is certainly not a 'volunteer', but an good employee at St. John's! NOTE - THIS REUTERS ARTICLE WAS ALSO POSTED ON ABC.COM

Long-suffering Tigers fans appreciate luck when they see it and are glad to take it. But they are not taking chances.
In the shadow of Comerica Park, St. John's Episcopal Church has a banner inviting fans to "pray here" for the Tigers.
"We take it very seriously," said Paul McDonald, a retired General Motors worker who volunteers at the church. "It's not a joking matter."
McDonald said Detroit needed something to feel good about given the tough times for the Big Three automakers that remain the pillar of the local economy.
"This area has been badly hurt and it means a lot," said McDonald. "I see all of these Asian and European cars and I just scratch my head."
Michigan's unemployment rate stood at 7.1 percent in September, far above the national rate of 4.6 percent. The troubled auto sector has cut over 100,000 jobs since January.

To see the entire article go to

Here is one that got it right! - USA TODAY

USA TODAY columnist Jim Lopresti mentioned in his online column.

Comerica sits in an odd mixture of a neighborhood that includes the Detroit Opera House and a parking lot for the 36th district court. Also just up the street is the St. John's Episcopal Church. A big banner outside invites the public to "Pray here for the Tigers and Lions!"

The rest of the column can be found at

Game One - being there!

What a great experience it was being at game one of the World Series, even though they lost! Thankfully, game two is now past and the Tigers have tied up the series on a marvelous pitching clinic by Kenny Rogers!

Jennifer and I went, and we took Meg of course. Meg didn't like the noise too much, and Jennifer watched much of the game alternating from our seats to the concourse while I sat in the bleachers in Right/Center, section 102, row K (fifth row) with a colorful, entertaining group of fans.

The weather ended up being pleasant, starting in the 50's, and the rain held off until after the game.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Another mention, another correction

In yesterday's Philadelphia Daily News there was an article called, 15 things to ponder about the Tigers

In the article we read
"14. DIVINE INTERVENTION: On the roof of St. John's Church, across the street from Comerica Park, is a banner that reads: "Pray for the Lions and Tigers."

Once again someone has it wrong. It is Pray HERE for.... and invitation to come to Church!
For the rest of the article go to http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/15804087.htm

Someone asked how I am finding all these articles. If you go to google.com there is a section for news alerts - and you set up the parameters. I have it send me a daily email with any articles referencing "PRAY HERE FOR THE TIGERS" or anything close to it. About half the articles are about the endangered status of the animal, another few about a local sports team somewhere named the Tigers, where the world PRAY is mentioned. But some of the articles are mentions of our Church.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Manager Jim Leyland's brother is a priest

From the Catholic News Service -

DETROIT, Mich. (CNS) – There are many ways in which managing a baseball team is similar to managing a parish, said Father Thomas J. Leyland, brother of Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
In a sense, they are both shepherds to their "team," with Father Leyland's team being an active parish with 8,000 parishioners and a school and Jim Leyland's team being the Tigers, who beat the New York Yankees and were battling the Oakland (Calif.) Athletics in the American League Championship Series.
In either role, the leader must affirm people, encourage them to do their best, encourage them to work as a team toward a common goal – all while keeping the teammates' different personalities in mind. Also, Father Leyland said, it's important to keep in mind where your team is going, and what its vision is.
Father Leyland has been pastor at St. Rose Parish in Perrysburg, Ohio, just south of Toledo, Ohio, for more than seven years. It is the parish in which he and his family, including his six siblings, grew up. He disagrees with the idea that he has a harder job than his brother, considering the number of people they shepherd. Jim Leyland has to deal with media exposure, Father Leyland reasons.
Although sports has become a kind of religion to people, especially considering that sports keeps some people away from Sunday Mass, sports also has positive aspects, such as bringing people together, he said.
There's a large Tigers following in Toledo, he said, because of the short distance between the two cities and because of the Toledo Mud Hens, Detroit's top farm team. "It can build community among people," he told The Michigan Catholic, newspaper of the Detroit Archdiocese. "That's a positive."
Father Leyland also pointed out that for an area such as Detroit – he graduated from the University of Detroit – or other economically hard-hit areas, it's great to see it coming alive because of the success of its baseball team. "It's good for the city," he said.
Father Leyland himself went to a few regular-season games, but likely wasn't going to catch any postseason games unless the Tigers make it to the World Series. He's been watching some of the games on television, although he didn't get to see much of the team's AL Division Series win against the Yankees Oct. 7 because he was celebrating Mass and then officiated at a wedding.
He said he gets nervous watching the games, depending on how the Tigers are playing. His family is close, keeping in contact through phone calls – of which many were made after the Tigers beat the Yankees.
He jokes that he doesn't pray for a particular team before a game because he's afraid he'll get blamed if they lose. "I get asked that all the time," he said.
He said he prays for the health of the players, that no one gets injured, and that they do their best.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bring on the Cardinals!

What a great ending for the Mets, losing with bases loaded on a strike out sinker ball!

Now for the drama of LaRussa v. Leyland (they are great friends), and a sub-plot of Jeff Weaver returning to Detroit - he was traded away to the Yankees in a three way trade that got us ace pitcher Jeremy Bonderman from Oakland in 2002.

Looking forward to Saturday!

Here they are!

Going to Game 1 Saturday - the other tickets are already vouched for!

Go Tigers!

What I am reading

The Morning Watch by James Agee, published 1950

This book was lent to me in Lent by a parishioner, and it is about a boy taking a shift in the Garden Watch on Maundy Thursday/Good Friday while away at Anglican prep boarding school in Tennessse. I started it in March/April and put it down and picked it up again this week and am enjoying it very much.

My Life with the Saints by James Martin, S.J., published 2006

James Martin is an editor of America Magazine, a weekly Jesuit publication. This book chronicles how different saints have influenced his vocation, with a short biography of each. Fr. Martin graduated from the University of Pennsylvania the year I arrived there, and he throws in little stories from Penn that ring familiar to me.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Doing a google search...

... on the words PRAY HERE FOR THE TIGERS. Our Church/Banner is mentioned not only locally, but there is a google search reference going back a month for the Toronto Globe and Mail, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Post-tribune, Daytona Beach (FL) News-Journal, and Gary Indiana Post-Gazette. There is also a mention on the Wikipedia.com entry about Comerica Park.

The Detroit Free Press article was cut up and distributed by the Associated Press, and appears in shortened form in the Lansing State Journal, ClickonDetroit.com (Channel 4), Prosportsdaily.com and Midland Daily News

The word "PRAY" referencing the Tigers (but not mentioning the banner/Church) comes up frequently as well!

In the last few days, in addition to the Free Press and News, I have also been interviewed by Associated Press Radio, and the Los Angeles Times. Paul McDonald, the office manager fielded an interview with Reuters. I expect there will be more as we get closer to the games this weekend, especially from whatever city wins the honor of playing (and losing to) the Tigers in the World Series.

A mention in the DENVER POST

Detroit - They did it for the parishioners at St. John's Episcopal Church across the street who pray for their victories. They did it for the folks that frequent Cheli's bar and scarf Greek food at the Pegasus. They did it for the fans who pressed their noses through the screen behind home plate, hoping to touch one of their champagne-soaked jerseys.
But more than anything they did it for themselves, executing one of the most remarkable U-turns in sports - from an American League-record 119 losses in 2003 to four victories from wearing diamond-encrusted rings.
While horns honked, people screamed and sirens flickered, the Tigers completed another chapter of their improbable gags-to-riches story, sweeping the Oakland A's in the American League Championship Series with a 6-3 victory on Magglio Ordoñez's walk-off home run.....

For the rest of the story go to http://www.denverpost.com/sports/ci_4495050
Staff writer Troy E. Renck can be reached at 303-954-1301 or trenck@denverpost.com.

Here is the Detroit News Article

Thanks to Chris Sayers for finding this on-line!
I am only sorry that the photos are copyright protected. To see the good picture of Shirl Howell, and very unflattering picture of me, go to http://www.detroitnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061013/SPORTS08/610130303
Father Steven Kelly thought he would draw attention to St. John's Episcopal Church when he hung out a banner three years ago imploring people to pray for the Tigers.
The church, near Comerica Park, got noticed all right -- more than he could have thought.
Father Kelly's batting average is higher for the Tigers than for the Lions. The Tigers have caught the fancy of the city and the nation. They return home to face the A's today in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series before an adoring crowd.
The Lions -- well, the Lions need divine intervention. They're 0-5 going into Sunday's game against the Bills.
Keep the faith, Father Kelly says.
"We always say in this business that God answers all prayers," Father Kelly said. "The answers are yes, no and not yet."
The most hopeful spin for the Lions is the answer is "not yet."
"Miracles still happen," Father Kelly said.
St. John's, on Woodward Avenue just north of Comerica, was founded in 1858. Construction on the original church structure was completed in 1861.
When Comerica Park opened in 2000, Father Kelly hung a banner that said "Pray here for the Tigers." He added "and Lions" when Ford Field opened in 2002.
The banner attracted national attention in 2003, when the Tigers lost an AL record 119 games.
Because of the Tigers' losing record and the banner, Father Kelly was interviewed by many national media outlets. The Los Angeles Times ran a story -- when the Angels were in Detroit -- with a photo of the church and a caption that asked, "Do the Tigers really have a prayer?"
The answer to their prayers was Jim Leyland.
Attendance is booming at Comerica -- and it has picked up at St. John's.
Maybe there's a correlation.
"What it's done is give us recognition," Father Kelly said. "We're the church with the banner. The church has quadrupled in attendance in the last four years (from 60 to 240 for Sunday services)."
Father Kelly, 40, has a sports background. He was a 175-pound center at Orchard Lake St. Mary's High. Let's just say he has grown into the position since departing high school. He was ordained in 1994.
With a sports theme, we wondered if St. John's charges more for a seat in the front pew.
Actually, there's a history to that.
"In the old days, before the 1930s, they used to have what were called pew rents," Father Kelly said. "You actually rented a pew. The pews up front used to cost more than the ones in the back. It was a stature thing.
"The free pews, for those who can't pay, are the ones in the balcony."
There are some perks in having a church near a ballpark. St. John's choir has sung the national anthem at Comerica. Father Kelly once threw out the first pitch, and led the crowd in "Take Me Out to the Ball game" during the seventh-inning stretch.
Once, he was one of three people who threw out the first pitch.
"It almost sounds like a bad joke," he said of the three-man rotation. "A rabbi from West Bloomfield and a priest go out to throw out the first pinch. Throw in the punch line."
Who was the third man?
"A guy who won it at the casino."
Like we always say, let he who is without sin cast the first one-eyed Jack.

St. John's in the News and Free Press

With all the Detroit Tiger baseball excitement, St. John's is getting noticed, although there was some mis-information in the articles.

Saturday there was an article in the Detroit News by Mike O'Hara, which was pretty good, although he messed up our attendance figures (I said 50 to 200, he wrote 40 to 240) and he mis-stated the fact that I had the banner put up, when I said the banner was up before I got here (I told him it was, but he mis-stated that). The News article, with a fun picture of Shirl Howell in Tiger ears at the Pray Here for the Tigers Service, was only in the hard print edition.

In today's Free Press, there is another article. Despite the mistaken quote that we are full of Comerica Park employees (I said we had some who come and go) on Sunday AM, and the fact that I won't pin the Tigers losses on our Lord (I said PERHAPS the answer the last few years was "Not Yet") since I don't ultimately know His Divine Will. Finally, he says we are praying for 3 more victories...he meant FOUR! Otherwise, it is a pretty good article. I copied it below....

All this lays a groundwork for ALL OF US, the members of St. John's, so that when we invite friends, family, and neighbors down to St. John's, they will know where/who we are when you can say "it is the place next to Comerica with the Pray here for the Tigers banner" and perhaps they have a recognition from reading the paper.

THE SCENE: Praying for a title next door
Saving souls and four more games
October 16, 2006
The Rev. Steven Kelly stepped outside to take his dog for a walk seconds after Magglio Ordonez touched home plate. Up and down his Grosse Pointe Park street, he heard hollering leaking out from windows.
"It was a rumble, really," Kelly said.
And it warmed his heart on a cool October night.
For five years, Kelly has presided famously over prayer services for his beloved Detroit Tigers at St. John's Episcopal Church, across the street from Comerica Park and the Fox Theatre. On Saturday evening, Ordonez lifted a moonshot to the heavens, sending Detroit to the World Series for the first time in 22 years.
So what does Kelly do now?
"Keep praying, of course," he said. "You pray in good times and in bad. And you pray to give thanks."
Kelly has one of the more unique perspectives on this astounding Tigers season. His church at the corner of Woodward and E. Fisher Freeway shares a parking lot with the ballpark. And for the first time since he took over the parish, he watched the lot grow full.
"I can remember when the park was built, and a board member suggested we might have to hire extra security for when the World Series came," Kelly said. "We laughed at him. About the worst that ever happens is when our garden gets used as a urinal."
No one is snickering now, although nearly everyone at the church is smiling. The congregation is full of Comerica Park employees -- ushers, vendors, ticket-takers. Every Sunday, they, the rest of the parish and Kelly bless the boys across the street.
"God always answers; it's either yes, no or not yet," Kelly said, explaining how the Almighty could let the Tigers lose 119 games just three years ago. "He was telling us 'not yet.' "
Kelly got the idea for a Tigers-centric prayer service when he arrived at St. John's five years ago. The new ballpark dwarfed the elegant, limestone-sculpted Victorian-Gothic church built in 1859. Kelly feared the church would get swallowed.
Then he saw opportunity and began offering prayer services for the Tigers, hoping to lure fans to his pews and publicity to his parish.
"We wanted people to know we are still here," Kelly said.
Besides, he loved baseball.
So does Tristan Williams, the church's office assistant, who also lives there. Williams spent many of his summer nights this season perched outside the backdoor. He'd smoke a cigarette and listen as the score from the stadium's public address announcer floated over the parking lot, and the victories kept piling up.
"Day in and day out people kept coming," Williams said.
And he kept watching. And listening. And following his hometown's baseball team as it stitched together a summer for the ages.
"Baseball has never left the city," he said. "It's Detroit."
And in Detroit -- at least at St. John's -- the city kept praying, every Sunday, every summer.
This Sunday, Kelly and his congregation will pray once more -- to stay levelheaded, to love their neighbors, to stay in His grace.
Assuming He still is listening, they will be asking for only three more victories.
The World Series begins Saturday night.
Contact SHAWN WINDSOR at 313-222-6487 or swindsor@freepress.com.
Copyright © 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Yesterday we had snow! The paper says it is the earliest measurable snowfall on record. All I know is that it was strange to see it yesterday, and this morning it is bitter cold with the windchill! 24 degrees feels pretty darn chilly when taking out the dog this morning.

It will be interesting to see how the Tiger game goes this afternoon with such a drastic change in temp!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Another Franciscan in the parish!

Congrats and blessings to Tristan Williams, known in the Franciscan Third Order of the Divine Compassion as Br. Justin Simon. Tristan was clothed as a novice member of the Order. This means that he has completed 6 months to a year's worth of discernment and lessons, and now will be a novice, beginning to live a rule of life (and tweaking it as necessary to see how God is leading) for the next two years. If he feels he is still called to this particular charism to express his Faith in Jesus Christ after that time, he can make his solemn promises of Simplicity, Purity and Fidelity (the Third Order counterparts of the monastic vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience). A Third Order Rule is an outline to which people (married or single, lay or ordained, male or female) adapt to help them to grow in the spiritual life, and follow Jesus Christ after the evangelical and penitential example of St. Francis of Assisi!

I am a member of the FODC, as is Cindy Grimwade (we are know in the order as Fr. Maximilian and Sister Clare Elisabetta). Also, Fr. Robert Kerr and Fr. Patrick Lowery are members of the FODC. That is it, so far for Michigan, but we have over 200 people in various stages of formation around the USA, England, and Africa.

For more info on the Order, go to www.fodc.net

Monday, October 09, 2006

Not from a Victory Celebration

A few people asked on Sunday morning if the burned out truck on the service drive next to the Church was the result of the Tiger victory celebration Saturday night.

Actually, I saw it on fire at 6:45am when I arrived at the Church for the Sunday services. Apparently the old truck developed an electrical problem, unrelated to the Tigers!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Thinking about the Foley/Page scandal

With all the reports, allegations etc. concerning former congressman Foley, and a (many?) pages in D.C., it begs a bigger question...

What ever happed to the reality that anyone having sex, or attempting to have sex, or propositioning to have sex (or anything leading up to it), with anyone other than your husband/wife is immoral and therefore wrong? Have we as a society lost all shame in trying to split hairs about how old someone was, their orientation, their willingness or even tricking someone into a proposition - rather than calling it all SIN - something to be repented off?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Changes to the Thanksgiving Parade

We have a grand celebration at St. John's for the Thanksgiving Parade: Thanksgiving eve service and sleep-over, and Pancake breakfast in the Undercroft, and donuts and hot chocolate/coffee out the front door!

This year the parade is starting an hour earlier (9:20) AND closer to the Church (Mack Avenue, instead of down near Warren Ave.) and will go down towards Campus Martius Park instead of stopping at Grand Circus. This means we will start selling earlier, and be done earlier that years past, giving us a chance to get home earlier for Turkey!

Now is the time to start inviting your friends and family to join us for breakfast, and watching the Parade in our Garden on Thanksgiving Morning!

Tigers even up the series!!!!

Tigers 4, Yankees 3....in the Bronx!

Now home to Comerica Park on Friday and Saturday! Go Tigers! Beat the Yankees!!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Great Sunday and Monday

I am blogging from my in-laws house, where we are getting ready to head back home after lunch.

Sunday was really nice at St. John's. We had quite a few police officers join us for the Blue Mass, and it was quite moving to have them up front for the blessing and distribution of medals. There were even two Wayne County Sheriff Deputies in their mounted unit out in the parking lot on horseback, so we got a police AND animal blessing together when I went outside

This was our first one, and several parishioners (not police officers) have said to me they would like to help in promoting it next year - I think it is the beginning of a great tradition at St. John's!

It was also fun to have our "PRAY HERE FOR THE TIGERS - Playoff edition" afterwards. Would that we could get the media interested in regular worship at St. John's!

On Monday morning we took the train into Chicago (from South Bend - we drove Sunday evening to my inlaws who live 45 minutes from South Bend) to see the King Tut exhibition at the Field Museum. We bought these tickets months ago, and have been really looking forward to going.

All that being said, I was disappointed by the exhibit. I knew that not all of the treasure would be there, but there was not a single one of the sarcophagi, or the famous golden death mask present. In fact, when you read the title it again you realize the display is not only King Tug but also the other kings of the valley, and I think there was less than half of the display with items from King Tut. Yes, it was all beautiful and interesting in many ways, and the highlight being a coffinnette, which contained his liver which as much as it looks like the familiar King Tut burial items, was only 39.5 Centimeters by 11 Centimeters. It was tiny.

When you got to the second to last room there were a few items on display that were wrapped in the mummy (golden dagger, etc.) and an outline on the floor of the size of the various boxes he was under....but then in the last room was just a photo display of his various facial representations and x-rays and an MRI of the mummy.

In fact, we enjoyed the regular exhibit of Egyptian artifacts in the Field Museum (which we had seen before) as much as the Tut display!

Overall, it was a very nice day. Riding the train was fun, and we also went to the Aquarium too. The weather was warm and we only dodged a few sprinkles while going back to the train station, hardly enough rain to bother putting up an umbrella. A day in Chicago is always fun, with family!