PLYMOUTH — The multicultural makeup of the congregation was on full display in standing-room-only attendance at the Mass that concluded St. Michael Church’s sesquicentennial celebration on Sept. 29. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades joyfully addressed the diverse ethnic audience with a bilingual Mass that included readings, music, prayers and liturgy in both English and Spanish. And to the delight of the crowd, the bishop delivered his homily in both languages.
Just as he had three years previously for the 100th anniversary of the current church building, the bishop was present to celebrate the parish’s patron saint. “Today we celebrate the 150th anniversary of your parish, named with the title of one of the three great archangels, St. Michael,” Bishop Rhoades said.
Bishop Rhoades spoke to the congregation about St. Michael, who is mentioned four times in the Bible.
“In the book of Daniel, Michael is identified as the ‘great prince,’ the protector of the children of Israel. In the letter of St. Jude, Michael is presented as disputing with the devil over the body of Moses,” Bishop Rhoades said. “In the Book of Revelation, in the passage we heard in our second reading today, we read of the war that broke out in heaven, of Michael and his angels battling against Satan (the dragon) and his angels, the fallen angels.”
In a reference to the current challenges the Church faces today, Bishop Rhoades noted, “The Book of Revelation recounts how Michael and his angels prevailed. Satan and his angels were expelled from heaven and thrown down to earth. Based on these Scripture passages, the Church venerates St. Michael as the guardian angel of the Kingdom of Christ on earth, as the heavenly leader in the fight against all enemies of God.”
“Given our world and our culture today, it is good to renew our devotion to St. Michael, to defend us in battle and to be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil,” the bishop emphasized.
Bishop Rhoades also cited the growth of the diverse ethnic background of St. Michael Parish since its inception in 1862. While pointing to the church’s stained glass windows of St. Boniface and St. Patrick, he spoke of the many German and Irish immigrants in the early parish.
St. Michael parishioner Eyvonne Aker’s family has been at the parish for five generations. Her grandfather Milton Bottorff, who was German by birth, began the tradition of attending St. Michael with Aker’s parents, siblings, children and grandchildren following suit. “Church is more than a building; the lifelong friendships and support are what make St. Michael so very special. The celebration (of the sesquicentennial) brings all of this to life,” said Aker.
Kathleen Flynn Fox, whose father moved her family to Plymouth in 1960, is the descendent of four Irish grandparents. The eldest of six children, Fox recalls that St. Michael continues to be her “go to” place in good times and bad.
“When President Kennedy was shot, the Holy Cross Sisters brought the school children across the street to pray, and they did the same when Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy died. The children prayed, the adults lit candles, and we all cried. We were responsible to each other, we comforted each other, and we were all safe inside St. Michael Church,” Fox recalled.
In paying homage to St. Michael’s Hispanic community with the bilingual Mass, Bishop Rhoades’ message of community hit home with parishioner Sara Lopez. “I remember the festival in 2010 following the Mass recognizing the 100th anniversary of the church building. It was not just the Hispanic community or the English speaking community. It was a church community coming together,” said Lopez.
The coming together of the church community is also reflected in the parish’s participation in the ARISE Together in Christ ministry, according to English Parish ARISE coordinator Cindy Casper. Casper and her Spanish Parish Arise coordinator counterpart Rosie Jamies are excited about the ministry’s growth.
“Over the past year, ARISE Together in Christ has been very successful in our parish. With the beginning of Session 3 the numbers participating have continued to remain about the same; 273 in our Spanish speaking community and 150 in the English community,” Casper explained.
“I believe St. Michael’s strong participation is due to the hour of Adoration the parish prays before each sign-up. At the end of Session 3 plans are beginning to be made for another community-wide gathering so both the Spanish and English communities can share their experiences,” she continued.
And parishioner Nick Schafer alluded to the phrase “there is no place like home,” when speaking of his homecoming to St. Michael. “I returned to St. Mike’s and my first Mass back it was like I had never missed a beat. There are always new faces, but the open arms of the parish provide great comfort,” said Schafer.
At the end of Mass, Bishop Rhoades offered congratulations to pastor Holy Cross Father John S. Korcsmar, parochial vicar Father Eloy Jimenez and the parishioners of St. Michael on the conclusion of their celebration. “May St. Michael walk beside you, protect you and defend you always! May your parish community be a sign and instrument of the victory of God’s love and goodness,” he concluded.
St. Michael Parish’s ministries serve
St. Michael School provides well-rounded education
PLYMOUTH — St. Michael School in Plymouth is a place where students not only receive quality education from grades pre-k through eighth grade, but also is a place where they can grow academically, spiritually and socially in a unique environment that inspires them to be the best that they can be.
“I attribute that to the fact that teachers care deeply about their students,” Principal Amy Weidner said.
St. Michael School provides full-day kindergarten through eighth grade classes with curriculum that includes religion, language arts, mathematics, music/band/choir/orchestra, social studies, science/health, art, physical education, computers and Spanish.
The school currently has 187 students from pre-k thru grade 8 who come from as far as Rochester, Etna Green, Monterey and Culver. The school includes not only Catholic students, but students from all faiths who are welcomed by 23 faculty and staff members.
Sports are also a part of the well-rounded education. St. Michael School has active participation in the Inter-City Catholic League (ICCL) for girls’ and boys’ basketball grades 5/6 and 7/8, boys’ and girls’ soccer and girls’ volleyball. The school also offers grade 4 girls’ and boys’ basketball, which includes competition with the Plymouth elementary schools.
“We will be looking to add ICCL baseball and possibly softball,” Weidner said.
Students who need help with English speaking skills receive English as a second language services from the ENL (English new language) teacher, the classroom teachers and teacher assistants, noted Weidner.
Not only do staff and teachers work to provide a great education for students, but parents regularly help at school and in classrooms by serving on committees, coaching athletics, running and organizing fundraisers, and in classrooms all day, every day of the week.
“They work with small groups of students and work in the classrooms to provide additional interventions work with students and also work with students who benefit from enrichment work in reading and math,” said Weidner. “Our volunteers are amazing and a true gift to our school students and staff!”
Weidner said Sister Rosemary Jung, a retired Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ sister, comes every day to help with anything that is needed in the kindergarten.
All students attend Mass throughout the week. Grades 1-3 attend Mass on Tuesdays. On Wednesdays, grades 4 and 5 attend Mass. On Thursday, grades 6, 7 and 8 attend Mass.
“This allows students to cantor, do the readings and psalm,” Weidner said. “On Fridays, grades k-8 attend the all-school Mass together. At the conclusion of Mass on Fridays, we celebrate and recognize our students of the week and our students of the month. On Tuesdays, the students of the week eat lunch at a specially decorated table in the cafeteria and receive a special St. Michael Crusader cookie for dessert. Students/Crusaders of the month receive a pizza lunch and a special dessert during their lunchtimes. They also have their first names and last initial displayed on our electronic school sign.”
St. Michael School’s door is always open with ideas welcomed by teachers, administrators and volunteers, all focused on the same goal — to make each child’s education a priority as they learn, thrive and succeed in all they do.
Variety of parish life ministries
St. Michael Parish has several varied parish life ministries for parishioners.
One of the many choices is the refreshments/cake and coffee. It offers parishioners an opportunity to get to know one another after the 9:30 a.m. Mass on various Sundays.
Those who want to learn more about Sacred Scripture can do so every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the church basement. Spanish Bible studies are also provided on Sunday afternoons.
The St. Michael Altar-Rosary group provides funeral luncheons at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Plymouth.
A prayerline is offered for requests through the rectory line as well as other phone lines for serious needs at all times.
Baptismal preparation and marriage preparation classes are also offered.
Harvest House is a social organization for parishioners and friends over age 55. They meet monthly for lunch at the Christos Banquet Center. At each meeting they have a guest speaker on a variety of topics.
St. Michael Pastor Holy Cross Father John S. Korcsmar has come to know this faith community as “a friendly parish.” He said, “The people are eager to serve one another. They take their faith and ministries seriously.”
He has been impressed with the history of St. Michael and said, “It’s a parish with roots. There are many families who have had parents and grandparents who have grown up here. … Having these roots is a factor in building community. It’s part of its identity.”
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