A devastating fire. Raging storms. Two worldwide pandemics.

St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church has survived many crises since the church was dedicated in 1897.  Throughout its remarkable history, this Grosse Pointe Farms parish has, time and again, rebuilt what was damaged and restored what was lost. Dedicated clergy and loyal parishioners devoted themselves to preserving St. Paul’s historic and beautiful church campus.

St. Paul on the Lake, 1978 Fire

Recently St. Paul’s leadership has focused on St. Paul’s future needs — not for a budget year or two, but for generations to come. That is why the parish, working with the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, has established the St. Paul on the Lake Preservation Endowment Fund.

A historic church like St. Paul’s presents special challenges, explained pastor Fr. Jim Bilot. “Because the buildings and grounds are so beautiful, we can lose sight of just how old this church is. Michigan had only been a state for 60 years when the current church was built,” Fr. Jim said. “It was really a country church.”

Indeed, early St. Paul’s records attest to a time when transportation was by horse, most homes were heated by wood or coal, and many parish families farmed for a living.  “There’s a lot of wear and tear on a building over 120 years,” Fr. Jim commented.

Fr. Jim noted that St. Paul’s recently replaced three outdated HVAC systems for the church and gathering space, due to wear, age, and lack of available parts. In 2020, the church’s tower bells were restored to working order and a carillon was added, ringing out to the community with beautiful hymns and calls to worship. And even as St. Paul’s wraps up one project, more needs surface, Fr. Jim observed.

“It’s become clear that we need to plan for the long term if St. Paul’s is to preserve its beauty and historic character,” Fr. Jim said.

Angela Moloney, president of the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, said St. Paul’s contacted the Foundation to help create a preservation fund. “St. Paul’s is such a jewel; it’s our privilege to share in this effort.”

Ms. Moloney explained that one benefit of the endowment is that people can designate the fund in their wills, as well as make gifts during their lifetimes. Endowment funds are administered by the Foundation, which will make annual distributions to the parish, starting in 2022. All funds administered by the Catholic Foundation of Michigan are subject to moral and ethical screens to ensure that they are invested in a manner consistent with Church teaching.

2020 restoration of the Church’s tower bells.

Patrick Fabian, the parish’s Business Manager, noted that the fund will establish a stable source of funding for the preservation and upkeep of the historic buildings and grounds at St. Paul’s. “We have a responsibility to see that this church we love is cared for,” he said.

Monsignor Patrick Halfpenny, St. Paul’s pastor from 2003-2019, used to say that the church walls are soaked in prayer. That’s a legacy that St. Paul’s wants to preserve for the next 120 years and beyond.

Contribute and Support this Historic Preservation


 

Are you interested in opening an endowment fund to benefit your beloved parish, school or charity? Individuals and organizations, including Catholic schools, parishes and nonprofit organizations, can open an endowment with a minimum of $10,000. Why not start today?

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