Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Flint Photos: St. Michael's Byzantine Church


  1. Where? Does anyone know: Byzantine/Catholic or was it an Eastern Rite Orthodox church?

  2. Friday fish frys, Slavonic Festival in October, Christmas tree sales. 10 o'clock mass in Slovak.

    Also the place I was inoculated against organized religion.

  3. St Michael Byzantine Catholic parish was located on Pierson Rd in Flint, having been moved there from the area that became Buick City. It's sister parish, All Saints Roman Catholic, also moved to Pierson Rd in the 1950s from the same area near Industrial Avenue in Flint. St Michael's, back in the old days, was referred to as a Greek Catholic rite parish, which is to say that it uses the liturgy of St Basil or St John Chrysostom for the Divine Liturgy, a.k.a. Mass. This liturgy is chanted in English, for the most part. In fact, Byzantine rite parishes used the vernacular languages of the people long before the change took place in the Roman (Latin) rite. For many years, the rite used Slavonic, which is a language that was understood by Slavs throughout a great deal of Eastern Europe. It is still used on occasion in hymns, reminding the congregations of the origins of this particular church in the East.

    1. That same historically-Eastern-European area around Industrial and St. John was the original location of St. Nicholas Orthodox, now located on Center Road in Burton.

      Their website says that the church's original community was "Slavic and Romanian immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the expanded Russian Empire including peoples from modern day Russia, Ukraine, Bukovina, Belarus, Carpatho-Ukraine, Slovakia, Lithuania and Poland".

      I think there might also be another Slavic-flavored church/community east of Belsay Road, south of Lapeer. I've seen signs, I think at the corner of Roberta Street, for Slavic Festivals.

  4. It was St Cyril and St Methodius, two brothers from Asia Minor, who were sent by the Pope more than 1000 years ago to evangelize the Slavs. They adapted the Greek alphabet to the Slavic languages they found, and used the rite of the Divine Liturgy used in Byzantium. Despite differences with priests and bishops of the Latin rite over the use of the liturgies developed by St Basil and St John Chrysostom, the Byzantine rite was approved personally by the Pope of that time and has been used ever since by both Orthodox and Catholics despite the schism of about 1000 years ago. Other rites within the Catholic Church, with equivalents in the Orthodox churches, are: Syro-Malabar, Mozarabic, Maronite, Syro-Malabar, Gallican, Sarum, Armenian, and the Byzantine rite in Greek.

    Ethnic groups adhering to the Byzantine rite include: Russians, Slovaks, Ruthenians, Carpo-Rusyns, Poles, and Ukrainians. Other Eastern-rite Catholics include ethnic groups such as Greeks, Romanians, Chaldeans, Lebanese-Maronites, Syrians, Copts, Syro-Malabar Indians, and others.

    St Michael Byzantine parish now resides in Flushing, and while it does not now offer a Slavic festival nor fish-frys, it sells excellent bread and pastries during Lent and Advent. Customers sometimes overnight in Winnebagos in the parking lot to be the first in line to buy St. Michael's famous 'nut roll' or kolach, which was voted the best in the entire Byzantine metropolia.

    For some decades, the liturgy at St Michaels reflected a desire to conform with the practices of Catholics of the Latin rite, who are the majority. The old St Michael's on Pierson Rd reflected this. Unlike sister churches in Europe, it was relatively free of icons: those depictions of Christ and his mother, and the saints, that serve as windows to the Divine. The new St Michael's, which was completed in the early 1980s, exhibits the beauty and vigor of Christian art as well as the Divine Liturgy. The interior walls of the church are replete with icons, starting with depictions of Genesis and the prophets in the narthex. The nave is painted with icons of the life and passion of Christ, starting with the Nativity on the left wall of the church and then going episode by episode around the perimeter to the right of the church where the Resurrection is depicted.

    Perhaps the most visible difference between St Michael's and Latin rite churches is the iconostasis, or icon screen which is stands within view of the congregation. Some see it as a border or barrier between the congregation and the celebrant of the liturgy, but instead it is intended as a sign of the joining of the world with the celestial. On the far side of the iconostasis is the tabernacle and altar of preparation where the priest confects the Eucharist and then emerges amid incense and the chanting of the congregation to distribute what we know is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

    St Michael's is open to anyone who wishes to come and, amidst prayer and the work that is the Divine Liturgy, be lifted up and healed in the glory that is offered there. For anyone who may have been away from worship, St Michael's certainly offers peace and forgiveness.

    Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! Now you say it.

  5. Say it yourself. I don't need an institution to connect to the universe.

  6. My family would visit every Summer and my grandmother sang in the choir. Mass took forever. Unlike the roman rite I was brought up with in NYC, the priest was married and communion was a cube dipped in wine. I just couldn't wait to get out of there and get doughnuts from a place on Clio Rd. Does anyone remember the name of the doughnut shop? That was the best part of Sunday... arriving home from church with 3 dozen doughnuts and my grandfather, who always stayed home(he was already inoculated), had coffee percolating on the stove. I can smell it now.


Thanks for commenting. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.