The Last Seminarian Update

Dear Family and Friends,

It has been a while! Though my previous update to you all was back in September, I really have not had too much news to report… until now. There have been many happenings in the past month that I am very excited to share with you. But before that, I would like to fill you in on how my final semester of seminary has been.

It really began in December, when I went on my retreat in preparation for ordination to the priesthood. I did a similar sort of thing last December before I was ordained a deacon. These retreats are to be five days of quiet prayer, directed by a priest to guide us along the way. Wanting to make sure I had a solid director, I contacted a priest that I hadIMG_0109 met a few years ago when I spent the summer in Omaha, Nebraska. He happened to be leading retreats for a few others in Door County, Wisconsin during the time that I asked to do my retreat. So, I met him up there and had a powerful retreat reclaiming my identity as a beloved son of our heavenly Father. In my prayer on that retreat, the Lord gave me the confidence I would need this semester as I approached the priesthood.

My classes for this semester are: Marriage Law (My final exam for that class is tonight. I should probably be studying for it right now…), Sacraments of Healing (We learned about and practiced the sacrament of reconciliation and anointing of the sick), Social and Sexual Teaching (a survey course over a variety of topics), Mass Practicum (practicing celebrating the Mass), and a chanting class. I also had a course where we prepared for the STB exam, which would grant us a Bachelors in Sacred Theology. This is the European equivalent to the master’s degree that I am working on at the seminary. By taking this exam, we essentially get a two-for-one deal and graduate with a second degree. But the STB qualifies us for further studies in Rome, should the bishop want to send us there for an advanced degree. If I am asked to teach in the future, this might happen. But for now, I am thankful to have passed this exam and to be done with school!

Over spring break at the beginning of March, I was blessed to go on a road trip to visit a few friends. It was a bit delayed after my car broke down a half hour away from the seminary. This was all in God’s providence. That car was old and was giving me a ton of problems. After a searching through listings online, I found a good deal on a Focus and was back on my way in a few days.

As a deacon, I spend the weekends serving at a parish assignment. I would go up to the same place I have been the past two summers. From my time at St. Edward on the weekends, I learned a lot both from the pastor and in my experience working with the people there. I was able to get more comfortable preaching and settle into my role as a deacon. But as it was over an hour away, the commute was beginning to get to me. Usually on Sundays, after serving at the Masses in the morning, I would visit my parents in Livonia and then help coach at the pole vault club nearby. I am so thankful to have this time with my parents, and also to maintain involvement in my favorite sport.

Back at the seminary, life in community kept me busy. I was the president of our student government, which primarily functions to allocate money to improve life in the house. We will forever be known and the house council that had water fountains installed! One of my favorite community activities was what we call Flapjack Fridays. The tradition began before I entered seminary, but a friend and I kept it going this year. It was simply a reason for a group of us to get together every week before class. Even silly events like that really help to build up the brotherhood of seminarians which I hope will continue after we are ordained.

Before I was given the official green light to be ordained a priest, I had one more very important step to take: a meeting with my bishop called the scrutiny. Not all bishops do this, but it was traditionally common as a last check on the readiness of the man about to be ordained. Instead of a sort of examination, it is now an opportunity for our superior to make sure he knows the man he is about to call into lifelong service. This meeting was difficult for me. I have had some mental and spiritual struggles this year; and knew that in order to be honest, I had to share these with the bishop. Still confident in my call to the priesthood, I just wasn’t sure if I was ready quite yet. But Archbishop Vigneron assured me that my struggles were nothing that God’s grace couldn’t heal and in fact turn into sources of grace for others. Since then, Jesus has shown me the power of His victory and I am looking forward to ordination with a renewed hope and strength.

Now, to fill you in on some upcoming dates. As I wrote in my last email, my ordination will be on Saturday, June 8 of this year. It will take place at 10:00 am at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit. It is an open invitation. But if you are planning on going, I recommend arriving early. It will be packed! More information about that will be sent out soon. I will be celebrating my first Mass the next day at my home parish, and a few other Masses of thanksgiving the following weekends:

  • Sunday, June 9 at 10:00 am @ St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy (8200 N. Wayne Rd, Westland, MI 48185).
  • Sunday, June 16 at 10:00 am @ St. John the Evangelist Church and Student Center (327 M.A.C. Ave, East Lansing, MI 48823).
  • Sunday, June 23 at 11:30 am @ St. Edward on the Lake (6945 Lakeshore Rd, Lakeport, MI 48059).
  • Monday, June 24 at 7:00 pm @ St. Edward on the Lake (6945 Lakeshore Rd, Lakeport, MI 48059). This will be a Latin High Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

Then, on July 1st, I will begin my assignment as a priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Farmington, MI. I had some of this email written a few weeks ago, but figured this news was too big not to include! It was a bit of a surprise because I did not think that the pastor of this church was looking for another priest. There will be three of us there for at least this next year, and I know that I will be in Farmington for the next three years. It is wonderful to have this news, because these are the people I will call my family and spiritual children. Not to mention that hearing of my assignment just made my whole seminary journey very real! All of my training and study has been for this purpose: to be sent to these people and lead them to heaven.

Looking back on my time in seminary, I have been amazed at how God has worked through it all to shape me in to who I am today. When I first entered six years ago, I would not have guessed what I would be like nor what the Church would be like today. Especially in this dreadful year of scandal in the Church, God has brought about a greater courage in me to preach the truth and live in the beautiful tradition of our Catholic faith. I can have this confidence in the truth of the Catholic Church because I have my faith in Jesus, who promised us that not even the powers of Hell would triumph over it. In this Easter season when we proclaim Jesus as Lord even over death, I am reminded ever more of the hope we have in Him.

I am so excited to be ordained with my two Detroit classmates and attend the ordinations of my other classmates from around the country. Please keep us all in your prayers as we wrap up our last few exams and prepare to join Jesus in His vineyard! As always, I remain yours in His Sacred Heart,

Dcn. Derik

Welcoming a New Pastor

As announced at the weekend Masses, The Archdiocese has announced that the new pastor of St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy is Fr. Shafique Masih. Father has been serving at St. Jude church on the east side of Detroit for a number of years. He visited our parish last week and seemed impressed by the number of activities, both liturgical and community. He is a friendly, down to earth person and I am sure that he will be a great leader for the parish as we move forward.

Although he doesn’t arrive until July 1, I was thinking of a few things that are useful to remember when welcoming a new pastor. Some of these I experienced and others I found. You may want to keep them in mind.

  • When a new pastor arrives, be patient with him. The grief of leaving a familiar parish and the newness of this parish might be a bit overwhelming. Be patient.
  • Don’t overwhelm him or beat down a path to his door. Give him some breathing room, time to unpack, get settled, remember the names of the staff, understand the schedule, etc. This may take a couple of months.
  • If he needs help in moving in, assist him. Make sure he wants the help. But don’t be pushy about it. Many priests like their privacy and may not want parishioners traipsing through their home.
  • Perhaps a welcome basket with some fruit and simple food would be helpful. Include one simple cooked meal that may be welcome on his first day. But not too many. We all have our own tastes.
  • Let him change his mind. Sometimes a decision made early is rushed or made without fully understanding things. Give him some wiggle room.
  • Try not to compare him to the former pastor (me). First of all, it is not possible. He will also struggle comparing St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy to his former parish. Comparisons only impede relationships.
  • Eventually tell him about yourself and about the parish. But please don’t use terms like, “Well this is the way we’ve always done it.” He may ask how things have been done. Most pastors want to keep things the way they are and not try to fix things that are not broken. So he may ask. Make sure that you know how to answer a question and not try to make your own pet peeve or feeling seem like the feeling of the parish.
  • Let him get to know you and the various groups of the parish. Sure, he can read the bulletin but if you mention to him various activities, he can decide which ones to attend and not attend.
  • Most importantly, pray for him. And let him know that you are praying for him.


Fr. Ken

Fr. Ken is Reassigned

I am sure that most of you were surprised by my announcement at Mass last weekend. In case you didn’t hear it, or didn’t fully understand, I will repeat it here with some additions.

At the recent PIME Assembly in the USA, I was elected as the Regional Superior. This isFr Ken the same job that I held before I came to St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy in 2016. It is a full time job. It was a surprise and shock to me, as I’m sure it was to all of you. I had planned to stay here as pastor for as long as I could. I know that the parish needed stability from the pastor. My term begins on April 1 and is for four years. I will remain as pastor here until June 30, while the Archdiocese begins its search for a new pastor. On last Sunday afternoon, March 17, an email went out from the Archdiocese to all priests listing the parishes that are looking for a pastor. St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy was one of the three listed.

In addition, due to my new position, I will have to attend the PIME General Assembly (commonly called “Chapter”) in Rome from April 24 – May 24. During that time, other PIME priests in the Detroit area will be assisting for liturgies in the parish. So basically, I will be here from now until just after Easter, and then again from the end of May until June 30.

This was not something that I expected nor did I look for it. I feel that we have built a strong parish community in these past three years, and ask you to continue to support the new pastor as much as you supported me. We have a great leadership team and staff that will continue to make sure that the parish moves forward.

pime_logo_white-cbe6fd7b8dd973d973c8677388276a101ccb6534824b6b2a8e9f3570b763b70eThis position entails many facets: Relating with the PIME priests here in the United States and with the Bishops where we minister, overseeing the mission center in Detroit where we do fundraising and promotion, keeping up to date on the latest trends and issues of the American Church (which includes the current abuse scandal). Our headquarters is presently in Detroit, near the University of Detroit Mercy, just north of 6 Mile Road near Livernois. That building is too large for our present needs and a move in the future in probable.

Please continue to pray for our parish, especially during this transition period, and the new pastor. I promise my prayers as well. I ask that you pray for me and for PIME as well.
Fr. Ken

The Bible and the Virgin Mary

Join our Parish Family as we take part in The Bible and the Virgin Mary, adult faith formation program beginning the week of January 24, 2019 and ending the week of April 11, 2019. This program is part of the St. Paul Center’s Journey Through Scripture series, unveils the mystery of Our Lady that is woven into the fabric of Sacred Scripture. Twelve visually stunning lessons convey the beauty of the doctrine and devotions surrounding Mary, bringing them to life in a powerful, new way.

This class uses discussions based on Scott Hahn’s Hail, Holy Queen and videos presented by dynamic speaker Matthew Leonard. This study has something for everyone from the newly confirmed to the fully engaged cradle Catholic.

Discussion will be on Thursday evenings from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm with a light meal served from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  Childcare will be provided.  

Download registration form: Here

Blessing of the Home and Household on Epiphany

The traditional date of Epiphany is January 6, but in the United States it is celebrated on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8.

When all have gathered, a suitable song may be sung. The leader makes the sign of the cross, and all reply, “Amen.”

The leader greets those present in the following words:

Let us praise God, who fills our hearts and homes with peace.
Blessed be God forever.
R/. Blessed be God forever.

In the following or similar words, the leader prepares those present for the blessing:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling place among us. It is Christ who enlightens our hearts and homes with his love. May all who enter this home find Christ’s light and love.

One of those present or the leader reads a text of sacred Scripture, for example, Luke 19:1-9:

Listen to the words of the holy Gospel according to Luke:
Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way.> When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.”

The intercessions are then said:

Leader: The Son of God made his home among us. With thanks and praise let us call upon him.
R/. Stay with us, Lord.
Leader:  Lord Jesus Christ, with Mary and Joseph you formed the Holy Family: remain in our home, that we may know you as our guest and honor you as our Head.
We pray:
R/. Stay with us, Lord.
Leader:  Lord Jesus Christ, you had no place to lay your head, but in the spirit of poverty accepted the hospitality of your friends: grant that through our help the homeless may obtain proper
We pray:
R/. Stay with us, Lord.
Leader:Lord Jesus Christ, the three kings presented their gifts to you in praise and adoration: grant that those living in this house may use their talents and abilities to your greater glory.
We pray:
R/. Stay with us, Lord.After the intercessions the leader invites all present to say the Lord’s Prayer.
The leader says the prayer of blessing with hands joined:

Lord God of heaven and earth,
you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation
by the guidance of a star.
Bless this house
and all who inhabit it.
Fill them (us) with the light of Christ,
that their (our) concern for others may reflect your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.

The leader concludes the rite by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross and saying:

May Christ Jesus dwell with us,
keep us from all harm,
and make us one in mind and heart,
now and forever.
R/. Amen.

It is preferable to end the celebration with a suitable song, for example, “O Come, All Ye Faithful” or “We Three Kings.”

—From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2019

Please join Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, Timothy Lutheran Church, MINewburg United Methodist Church, and St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy for a Ecumenical Prayer Service as part of the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2019.” 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 7 PM – 9 PM

This year we will gather at St. Mary, 8200 North Wayne Road, Westland, Michigan 48185. The pastors from each church, as well as the choirs and parishioners will take part in the service. There will be Fellowship after the service.

St Hedwig Cemetery Clean Up

Remembering our Loved Ones at Saint Hedwig cemetery…

The Monsignor Russell E. Kohler, Knights of Columbus, Council 15204 at St. Mary,
Cause of our Joy, would like to help anyone who might have a loved one, buried at St Hedwig Cemetery, to clean up their gravesite. Please fill out a Site Clean Up Request Form , for each site you want cleaned, which are available in the Church  Gathering Space, or can be downloaded here:  St Hedwig Grave Clean Up Form

Forms need to be returned by October 20 for this one time FALL CLEAN-UP.