Friday, September 11, 2009

Jesus For Sale

I paid a visit to my old hometown recently and discovered something startling – Jesus is for sale. Uh…it’s more like Jesus’ home is for sale or at least the place that Jesus called home when I was a kid.

St. Leo the Great in Flint, Michigan is for sale – just check out the sign underneath the cross that welcomed everyone to the church. Not only is the church for sale – look what company is selling it – GMAC – that’s kind of poetic, isn’t it.

When I was young -- It was at St. Leo the Great where my mother spent a good portion of her Fridays in the basement kitchen frying fish for the church’s weekly fish n’ chip sale. If I close my eyes – I can still see that 7-Up pop machine in the basement. Each bottle cost a dime and you had to push down this silver lever on the front of the machine after you put in your coin for the machine to dispense your pop.

It was a St. Leo the Great – where I took my first communion. I know that I don’t have the picture – but someone somewhere has got to have the picture of all of the kids that was a part of my first communion group. All of the girls were in pretty dresses and all of the boys were wearing white shirts, ties and black pants. I can remember that I was in the back row in the picture and how I was a bit of an embarrassment to my Mom. You see – it wasn’t until we got the first communion pictures back and they were posted on the wall at the church that my Mom noticed that my fly was open on my pants and where there should have been solid black where my zipper was – you could see my white shirt hanging out. Oops....forgive me Jesus.

And – it was at St. Leo’s – where I was once an altar boy. My service as an altar boy was only for a short period of time (then my parents separated and we moved), but I'll be truthfully honest – I really didn’t know what I was doing at the altar during mass half the time anyway – remember the church service back then was in Latin. I was young enough and dumb enough to think that when the priest mixed the wine and the water together for the sacrament that it was some kind of magic act. I was spellbound by it all and couldn’t figure out how he made those communion wafers….then I became an altar boy and found out that our priest purchased the wafers from some place on Fenton Road. There was no more magic – how depressing, right?


Andyman said...

I can tell you about the dying days of the Great St. Leo's. My wife's family grew up as members of the parish and her parents continued to be dedicated parishioners after the kids blew into the wind. Unfortunately with no new blood coming in, as in-laws aged, so did the average age of the parish. When my father-in-law passed a few years ago, my wife and I made sure her mom got to church every other week (her sister did the alternate weeks). Every time we went the announcements sounded like a death knell. One here. Two there. And so on. Even Father Jim was hanging on by a thread determined to make way to the alter in his Amigo. Slowly the bent white haired population dwindled until Lansing decided it was enough. My mother-in-law passed not long after St. Leo's closed. It's like that whole part of town died on us. There is nothing left there for us anymore.

Eastsider said...

When I saw the for sale sign under the cross last June, something churned in the pit of my stomach. Not only was the cross for sale and the church boarded up with plywood, but there was a shopping cart lying on its side in the overflow parking area with weeds as tall as I am taking over the cart and the pavement. We circled the parking lot and I remembered how we used to play at recess using our imaginations to create games. A good friend has assured me that the statue of St. Leo the Great is safely stored at Holy Rosary Church on Richfield Road. Our school photos and sports memorabilia are also at Holy Rosary.

Kimberly said...

I only went to a Catholic summer bible school there once but did have school there in 4th grade when Sobey was using it. I remember the Nuns and a house they lived in on Dolphaine Lane right near there and I lived on Sherry Drive right there too. We lived there at the playground and rode bikes through there all the time. It's definetly part of my childhood and yes, sad to see this.

Maureen said...

I went there too! First through 5th grade.

I remember the Latin Mass with "Fr. Paul J. DeRose" and if he was out of town...Fr. Aubin!

I remember Sister Charlene Marie, Rita Michael, & more. They lived back behind the church...can't remember that street.

I remember the story of how they obtained all the pretty statues - they were found in a dumpster!

I remember the "May Crowning". High Mass, & Midnight Mass on Christmas eve.

I remember the paddle! Close to an inch thick - looked like a cutting board with a handle & had a picture shellac'd on it of a boy & girl bent over a wooden fence with the words - "Never slap a child in the face.... Nature provides a better place!"

I also remember all the $$ my parents paid for our education. Four of us. Every Sunday we would bring an envelope with our Tithe.

My parents were not rich by any means, but they paid....

I also remember being denied having my mothers' funeral mass at that same church, because you see, she was a divorced woman.