Sunday, November 16, 2008

Assumption Grotto Catholic Church in Detroit

In our search for a new parish, Pam and I have been enjoying the variety of masses around the Detroit Archdiocese. We've attended Our Lady of Good Counsel (where I go often to daily mass), Old St. Patricks (in Ann Arbor and actually in the Lansing diocese, where i teach logic to homeschoolers), St. Regis, Our Lady of Sorrows, and today we attended the Tridentine Mass as Assumption Grotto in Detroit on Gratiot at Six Mile Rd. (pictured). This was our first Tridentine Latin experience since becoming Catholic 10 years ago. We could follow very little of what was going on. Even with the bilingual missal in our hands it was next to impossible to know where they were because the choir is singing in Latin (and the text is NOT always in the missal), and when the priest prays he's doing it silently, and when he says something out loud it was without a microphone, and it sounds like a distant mumble. Training is necessary to get this. Surtitles would help. (Hint!)

But, I will tell you this. Pam and I were blown away by several things. (A) The astute reverence of the people (unlike every other parish we've attended). There was never any visiting, talking, or running around. When we first got there (about 20 minutes early) about 100 were already in the pews kneeling and praying, mostly in the dark, as the only lights were on the altar which is beautiful and white. (see pictures) And there were perhaps 20 people lined up along the sides to get into confession before mass at two confessionals. (B) The LARGE procession of altar servers, and one priest, my friend and former technical writing employee from years ago, and now associate pastor at A.G., Fr. John Bustamante. (C) The elaborate choreography of the priest and altar servers (no boredom here for me, but again I could not follow much of any of it), and finally (D) the amazing choir and organ. Music is the first thing at this parish next to worship, adoration, et al. The choir sang most of the mass in Latin, and the voices and chanting were thrilling. (E) And I guess I should say Pam and I had no trouble being at worship for 90 minutes...yes, as soon as mass was over the congregation knelt and said a full 5 decade Rosary, and at a later mass they tacked on benedictions for good measure.

Well, we saw a number of friends who invited us to the pancake breakfast in the gym afterwards which this particular Sunday goes on from about 8:30 AM to 2 PM (after all three of the masses and rosaries, and benedictions (no breaks). The food was great, and while there another friend dropped by our table and dropped off a CD titled "Palla Eius" -- which we didn't figure out until later was the sound track to the musical created last year by Fr. Perrone, Joe Maher, and nearly the entire congregation. I knew Fr. Perrone as a classical composer, arranger, and orchestra conductor, etc, but I had not idea that his blood line was immersed in Broadway and the big band. I guess his father, Phil Perrone, was well known, and saddened that his son was going to be a priest. Well, Fr. Perrone (the priest) is using the DNA his father (Phil) passed on.

The music on the CD was fabulous, although some of the voices were thin. Nonetheless for a Catholic parish to create such a production, with such high quality, is incredible. I've produced and directed a few musicals and stage plays with amateurs, and it is difficult, although rewarding. Luckily, Fr. Perrone is smart enough to hire Detroit Symphony principals for the section heads in the orchestra, which they also hire for the major orchestral masses throughout the year.

Later, one of my friends, sends an email with a press release for their next production, that is to be staged next month. See the post just after this one for THE HERITANCE. Pam and I will be sure to attend. Click on the poster or the title for the press release.

Grotto (as the locals know it, for the Lourdes replica grotto on the property in the midst of a cemetery -- outdoor mass is sometimes celebrated at the grotto's altar) is also graced by an automotive engineer as a blogger for the parish, although it is her personal blog. Here name is Diane M. Korzeniewski, and she blogs daily, and is a wonderful photographer. I subscribe to her blogs mostly for the photography, a little bit of it posted here, along with links to some of her more recent memorable blogs. Her blog's header has a photograph of Fr. Perrone and a crowd during a nighttime candlelight mass. See

Grotto in the Flog

Tridentine Wedding

Grotto Mass

Aborted Babies Mass and Burial with Fr. Frank Pavone

Holy Week 2008 Photo "feasts".

All of this is in the heart of Detroit, which on the way to and from the church today, we passed hundreds of burned out houses, crack dens, prostitutes walking the street (on Sunday morning), and just the pathetic mess that the general populace of Detroit have allowed. Some years ago, Pam and I would occasionally go to New Years Vigil Mass at Grotto with my Catholic sponsor. But the last mass like that we attended at Grotto I was shell shocked afterwards. Near midnight incessant automatic gun fire erupted form the neighborhood. And the bullets seemed to be pelting the rooftop of the church. I was amazed that we weren't stormed by crazies with submachine guns. I was also sure the parking lot (which is secure, lighted, fenced in, and guarded... seemingly always) would be littered with slugs and casings. But afterward, although I looked carefully, I saw nor stepped on none. They must have a very good ground crew that works midnights.

This is one amazing parish.


  1. Stan,

    Just interested in why you are searching for a new home parish? I would think that OLGC with Father Ricarrdo would be great.

    Tom McGregor

  2. on those occasions when i can't go to Mass at Grotto, I feel like I've missed Mass. Besides that, you realize how lame most Novo Ordo masses are "celebrated!