February 17, 2016 // Uncategorized

St. Michael bicultural community serves mission of church

By Kay Cozad

PLYMOUTH — St. Michael Catholic Church has its roots in the farmland of Plymouth, with a congregation dating back to 1862. Holy Cross Father John Korcsmar is pastor there and shepherds the over 1,200 families in the bicultural parish. St. Michael boasts a school that educates students from kindergarten through grade 8.

The current church building, built in the early 1900s, underwent a $222,000 renovation and was rededicated in 1994. Of the parish, Father Korcsmar notes the area demographics are changing and the needs of his congregation as well. The bicultural parish, hosting Anglo and Hispanic populations, work together to share the vision and mission of the church. St. Michael currently offers four Mass times in English and two Masses in Spanish celebrated by Parochial Vicar Father Eloy Jimenez Zuniga.

The faith ministries of St. Michael, led by dedicated staff and lay faithful, provide religious education for adults in its RCIA program and for children of the parish in its religious education program. Additionally, St. Michael offers Eucharistic Adoration, the sacraments, the Why Catholic? program, Bible studies, a prayer line, quinceañera, bereavement support, a health care ministry, youth group and much more.

Catholic organizations hosted in the parish include Knights of Columbus, Harvest House for 55 and better, and Angels Girls’ Club.

St. Michael School building was dedicated in 1954 and in 2000 expanded with an addition of a science/art room, four classrooms and a gymnasium with a stage and storage area. And in 2009 a full city block sized playground was constructed for the school.

The school curriculum is unique in that it employs the Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math (STREAM) process that enables the students to work through the scientific method to learn about a subject. Recently the fifth through the eighth grades completed their work to present in a science fair.

To meet the needs of the bicultural school population the school now employs a parent-training specialist, who assists parents with increasing their involvement with their students’ education. Future hope is for more bi-lingual speakers on staff as well.

Long-time parishioners of St. Michael Parish, Leonard Isban and his wife JoAnn have been staunch supporters of the excellent Catholic education provided by St. Michael School. Following JoAnn’s death in 2013, Leonard began a search for an appropriate statue of St. Michael for the school in memory of his dear wife. His search took him in a different direction and a meeting with artist Keith Blanton. Isban commissioned Blanton to portray a guardian angel protecting the students as they entered and exited the school. The painting, completed in 2015, currently hangs near the main door of the school.

Another long-time parishioner of the parish is Anita Fox who acts as maintenance person and jack-of–all-trades there. What began 25 years ago when she and her husband volunteered to mow the church lawn has gradually turned into a ministry of its own. Fox, an octogenarian and now widowed, continues to provide the lawn care for the church and schoolyard, as well as the snow removal and general maintenance. “I do what I can,” Fox said with quiet humility. Her day begins with a walk across the street from her home to the church to open its doors for worship by 5 a.m. She then cleans the church basement and the upstairs before the activities of the day begin, all on a volunteer basis.

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