Historic Detroit church closes on New Year's Eve

The end of the year meant the end for an historic church in southwest Detroit. 

All Saints Church closed its doors after a final mass on New Year's Eve.

All Saints was founded in 1896 on Fort Street, long before the area became industrialized and I-75 was constructed just behind the church. A new bridge to Canada is slated to be built nearby.

Due to a decreasing number of parishioners, the parish will now merge with nearby St. Gabriel. All Saints has about 300 families, while about 1,000 are at St. Gabriel.

"It's sad that it's closing but it's obvious from the community inside the church here that it's a very tight knit community, and, by the grace of God, they'll all do very well and find other homes in the Catholic Archdiocese in the area," says Karen O'Bryan-Cortis. Her family members attended the church, and she attended the final mass there on New Year's Eve. 

The church held several masses each week in Spanish to accommodate the area's large Hispanic population.

Several factors have contributed to declining mass attendance at All Saints, said the Rev. Marc Gawronski, St. Gabriel's pastor. He said the closure earlier this year of a stretch of I-75 for major roadwork made it difficult for some parishioners from Downriver to get to and from mass.  

Also, an increase in raids and enforcement by federal immigration agents have unnerved many people in the largely Hispanic community around All Saints and other churches in southwest Detroit, Gawronski said. Some Latino immigrants have become fearful of going to public places.

The final mass, celebrated by Bishop Donald Hanchon, was held on December 31, 2017 at 3 p.m.