This profile was last updated in 2006
Holy Redeemer parish, located in southwest Detroit, was founded in 1880 to serve the scattered Irish and German Catholics living in the area that was then known as Springwells. The first services were held in a general store on West Jefferson Avenue and later on in a two-story building commonly referred to at the time as Paddy McMahon’s Saloon. While the church held services on the first floor, the second served as a residence for priests. In September of 1880, four acres of land were purchased on which to start construction of an actual church building. The number of parishioners grew rapidly, and over the years has included a variety of ethnic groups.
In 1910, the number of registered families totaled 1,100. By 1914, that figure had grown to 2,500 and the number of Sunday masses had increased from seven to nine. As the older Irish and German residents moved out of the area into the suburbs, people of Latin American descent who lived in the Corktown area of Detroit took their places. By the mid-1950s, Latino Americans (mostly Mexican) at the Holy Redeemer schools were 20 percent of the student body. The present number of families affiliated with the center is about 2,200, 70 percent being Latino. Its location in the heart of what is known as Mexican Town makes it the largest parish for the city’s Latino population.
Description and Activities
Holy Redeemer consists of an imposing collection of dark red-brick structures, including the church (dedicated in 1923), rectory, convent for the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, cultural center, and elementary, middle and high schools. The cultural center activities include a scouting program for both boys and girls, karate classes, Mexican dance instruction, guitar lessons, computer classes, and sports programs. There is also a division of the Campbell Branch of the Detroit Public Library on the first floor of the Cultural Center. In addition to Bible classes and religious instruction, the church has a program of food distribution to the needy, and a referral service for the homeless. Holy Redeemer is a part of MOSES (Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength), a metropolitan-wide interfaith organization formed to improve the quality of life in Detroit and to bring together people of different races and ethnic groups. They are also a part of SAVE (See and Visit the elderly) and Meals on Wheels.
Masses are in English on Saturday at 5:00 p.m., Sunday at 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., and in Spanish on Sunday at 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. There have been on occasion special masses in Arabic.