After 94 years, St. Lad’s will be forced to close its doors. Update: the church did not close

St. Lad’s parishioners will soon have to find a new church in Hamtramck to attend. The Detroit Archdiocese is planning to close the church, leaving just two Catholic churches left in Hamtramck.

St. Lad’s parishioners will soon have to find a new church in Hamtramck to attend. The Detroit Archdiocese is planning to close the church, leaving just two Catholic churches left in Hamtramck.

Update: This article was published in 2014. It has come to our attention that some readers are assuming this is a current story. Since this article was published, it was decided to merge St. Lad’s with St. Florian.

posted Jan. 6, 2020

By Charles Sercombe
It’s been a long time coming for St. Ladislaus Church.
During the past 20 years the city’s Catholic population has rapidly declined, and the city’s three Catholic parishes were forced to tighten their financial belts.
Several years ago St. Lad’s merged with two other Detroit-area parishes and cut services down to twice on the weekend.
This past weekend it was announced that the Detroit Archdiocese is closing St. Lad’s, as it is affectionately known.
Fr. Andrew Wesley said the closing came down to the finances of keeping St. Lad’s open along with the two other churches it was clustered with, known as the St. John Paul II Parish.
“All of these building cost too much to keep open,” said Wesley, who is the pastor for the Parish.
Also closing down is St. Louis the King Church. That means only Transfiguration Church will remain open out of the three.
Wesley said there is no closing date yet, but it will happen within a month or two.
St. Lad’s is celebrating its 94th anniversary. The current church was built in 1952. Before that, parishioners worshipped above a former Cunningham Drug Store at Caniff and Jos. Campau, then moved into a church on Brombach and Caniff and then finally to its current location.
Wesley said there are about 150-200 parishioners. He said he expects many will turn to Our Lady Queen of Apostles or St. Florian, one of the largest Catholic churches in the area.
Like the other two Catholic churches in town, St. Lad’s once operated a school system, but that shut down decades ago. The school building has since been purchased by a charter school that caters to the city’s Bengali community.
Wesley said the church will be sold, but there is no sale price determined yet.
Frank Zacharias has been an usher at the church for 50 years, and has been a member of the parish all his life.
He took the news of the closing in stride.
“It’s a sad but something had to be done,” Zacharias said. “We were waiting for the bomb to drop.”
Zacharias said that the decline in the parish started with the closing of its elementary and high schools, then parish clubs, and finally when parish members moved out or died and their children did not take their place.
“Hamtramck once had 50,000 people, now it’s 22,000,” he said. “When you had 50,000 living here three churches were viable.”
Although the number of parishioners in many inner-city churches has gone down, Mayor Karen Majewski said the Archdiocese destabilized the parishes by reassigning longtime priests to suburban churches.
There have been other moves by the Archdiocese, Majewski said, that all add up to a “disinvestment to churches south of 8 Mile.”
She also predicted that Transfiguration Church will struggle to survive because St. Lad’s parishioners will stay in Hamtramck.
“Transfiguration is the least viable out of the three,” she said.

26 Responses to After 94 years, St. Lad’s will be forced to close its doors. Update: the church did not close

  1. Adeodatus

    August 4, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    There are three Catholic churches. Two Roman Catholic, one Ukrainian Greek Catholic. St. Florian’s, Our Lady Queen of Apostles and Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

  2. Karen Majewski

    August 7, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    There is also Holy Cross, the Polish National Catholic Church.

  3. carole vogt

    August 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    The church is still beautiful place to hear God’s word.
    But remember: God is always with you where ever the community goes.

    I went to St Lads from 1972 to 1976. Go Greyhounds.

    God Bless Fr Norb M and keep him safe.
    Carole Wojciechowski 1976

  4. John

    January 4, 2015 at 7:46 am

    This is very sad, but this is prophetic. This is what happens when you remove God from the equation. This is what happens when the Catholic Church left their first love a long time ago, “The Bible.” God blows out their candlestick. This is the result of Americans not standing for something. I’m all about Hamtramck, but when you allow the enemy(Islam), right in your own backyard, and you do not make a stand against it, expect to fall. We will leave their countries, when they leave ours. The Truth(the Bible) will Set You Free, it will set a Nation Free. God has that Power, to build a city up and to tear it down. God Blesses this Great Nation, not Islam. Pull a quarter out of your pocket, and what does it say? “God Bless America.” Freedom of Religion, not from it. All Blessings flow from Father, and when you remove Him from prayer, do not expect anymore blessings. Is that difficult to understand? We as a Nation need to get back to Our First Love. The Bible. Your in Church the moment you open it, two witnesses, you and the Magnificent Lord God Almighty. Common Sense Must Prevail. Jesus taught on a 4th grade level. He wrote that Book of Life so that a child can understand it. God Is In Control. And now you know. We love you Father, Thank-You for the Truth Father, Thank-You for the Word Father, Thank-You for your Teachings and Guiding U.S., for it is written Father, give us the Knowledge and Wisdom to understand the beginning of the End, and the benchmarks through life, especially in this generation, where you require so much of the children, give them much, we ask you Lord God to Bless Hamtramck Always, Father we ask it in Jesus Precious name, Amen.

  5. Jenny

    April 9, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    John, it would behoove you to remember the history of Christianity. The Crusades involved murdering people who wouldn’t convert to Christianity. Every religion can boast nut jobs and extremists. See the second sentence above.

  6. Joe McDonald

    April 9, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    My entire childhood was spent in that parish. Eight years in the elementary school, ten years an altar boy for the church. Lector. Boy Scout….

    The sad thing is that, as was stated in the article, the families either moved on or died off. I was there for a visit a few years ago and barely recognized the place. The civic pride that once rallied that city in the mid to late eighties is gone.

    For some reason, I’m hearing Bruce Spring steen’s “My Hmetown” in my mind.

  7. Arlene Darkoski Cappella

    April 9, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    This is so sad, I went to St. Lad’s for 12 years as did my brothers. I also got married at St. Lad’s. in 1953.
    Lots of good mememories. Sorry to get this news.


  8. regis-marie zacharias stamey

    April 10, 2015 at 12:28 am

    it is sickening. my whole life as a kid and watching my aunts and uncles get married there and buried from there and my life was always at st. lads even though i now live in georgia. my other aunt who is now passed when to Q of A. My grandparents were married in st florian’s. oh well.God bless them all and i hope the folks left can get to church. thanks.

  9. jerry

    April 10, 2015 at 12:44 am

    Sad to say but I really hope there aren’t many people like John left in the world. Time moves on and things change. Churches will never be built like the old ones which is good because there isn’t a need to spend that kind of money on a building.

  10. Theresa Bednarski,Januszkiewicz,Kotovich

    April 10, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    Very sad for St.Ladislaus church to close. I made my Communion and attended 12 years of school at St Ladislaus.I graduated in 1972. Both my daughters Terri and Jill went to grade school and made there Communion, Confirmation and 8th grade graduation. Transfiguration church should of closed not St Ladislaus. The people of Hamtramck will now attend St Florian or Queen of Apostles. Theresa Kotovich.

  11. Kathleen Maciag

    April 10, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Of the 3 churches..St Ladislaus is in the nicest area and also handicap accessible….who do you think is going to go to Transfiguration with guards in the lot???? The most desolate area and that church is going to remain open ???? Makes you think there is some funny stuff going on..could some one who lives at Transfiguration not be telling the WHOLE TRUTH to the Archdioceses ?????? Of course attendance is down at Lad’s …..can’t attend if no services are being held…can’t get married there either….weddings and baptisms are only at TRANS… Hmmmmmm and where is all the MONEY……..

    You will have to answer to a higher power…….So Sad…….

  12. Chris

    February 7, 2016 at 12:42 am

    Thank you Kathleen for pointing out how everything moved to Transfiguration. The money has gone there too. Trans is a beautiful church but there is little parking and being off to the side street it is not a safe feeling around there. In my opinion all the Polish churches should go to National churches. I am tired of hearing how the Archdiocese manages to justify all their actions and the politics by certain parish clergy does the same. Let the Vatican scrape some of the gold off their walls, no, they won’t do that.

  13. Lisa

    February 20, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    We love Transfiguration. we live in shelby township and drive down every sunday. My grandmother lived on sparking and cousin a street over. The neighborhood has gone down. But when we went for a visit two year ago, we felt the spirit of the church. The love of the parishioners , we feel very safe, there is ample parking.
    The church is one of the most beautifully ornate churches I have been in.

  14. Katie

    February 20, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    I agree, I remember visiting family and going to mass, the huge wooden doors and the mosiac tiles. I think this church is really beautiful but so are the people who attend. I go every chance I get, I love Father Andy, he is one of the most kindest priests I have met.
    They do have security but I would attend even if there was none. I have always felt safe when attending mass. My family came from Poland and all grew up within the few blocks. This is a great way for me to keep in touch with my polish heritage.
    There is crime also in Hamtramck. The festival has no longer become polish and is surrounded by local and state police, because it is much needed.

  15. michael bonk

    March 24, 2016 at 2:33 am

    not ever sure where to start here. it is unfortunate to loose another polish church, and there will be lots of finger pointing and blame to go around, people will go where they are comfortable or not go at all. it happens. but I will say this in 1989 when the diocese announced mass closings, no one from hamtramck stood up to help save us at st, stanislaus, and the beauty of that church in the real poletown put the rest to shame. when they tore down st. thomas the apostle on christmas eve, where was the outcry from hamtramck??, I chose not to join a diocesan church ever again. and support the privatly owned st. albertus the first and mother church of polonia. maybe others will consider that as an option.

  16. Shirley (Glowacki) Schmidt

    April 30, 2016 at 9:55 am

    I went to St. Ladislaus from 1959-1963. I remember that we went to Mass every morning. I felt that was a glorious way to start the day. I loved all of the nuns who taught our classes. I also remember our 3 day retreats. The girls had to wear white blouses, red and gray plaid pleated skirts and red and gray beanies. The boys had to wear white shirts and dark pants. I have so many wonderful memories of St. Lad’s. I am sorry to hear that the church will close. It is a most beautiful church.

  17. nikola gjonaj

    August 31, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I went their in 1982 ..for one year!! And never understood what family was…till now..I miss my family and friends..God bless You…and thanks for the fond memories.THANK YOU LORD IN JESUS NAME FOR THE FAMILY I KNEW AND FAMILY NOW…I WILL ALWAYS PRAY FOR THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS..WHO TAUGHT AND ACCEPTED ME AS FAMILY…

  18. nikola gjonaj

    August 31, 2016 at 4:55 pm


  19. nikola gjonaj

    August 31, 2016 at 4:57 pm


  20. Gregg Wilczynski

    February 4, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    “67 grad.
    I remember trying to get to Pop’s, Belmont’s, or Big Boys for Banana Cream Pie and coffee for breakfast during mass.
    That set the tone for a good day. I will never forget the baseball power we had at Lads. City Champs three of four and only lost in 1965 at Tiger Stadium. I believed that’s why my brothers and I went to Lads! In fact from 1958 thru 1967, the 12 years of my brothers Gordie and Gary, we won “City” several years and played at Tiger Stadium for the championship most of all of the 12 years. Lads ruled. I’m saying RULED in baseball. Give me another reason to say you’re a Greyhound!!!
    For those who are lamenting the closing, you should move back to Hamtramck. I aint lamenting and I aint moving there.
    Greyhounds Rule!!!!
    Gregg Wilczynski

  21. Bob Kloss

    February 5, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    So Sad to hear. Brings back some great memories. Going to a public school from K-8 grade I was recruited to go to St. Lad’s because of their great baseball program. I NEVER REGRETTED IT. Going to a Cathoic school taught me discipline and respect. I still remember going to church every morning to start our day and having a rough time some days not falling to sleep on the kneeler.
    Also remember the retreats we had each year where for 3 days we had to get all dressed up. Playing baseball and basketball was unbelievable for the GREYHOUNDS. I was fortunate to play at Tiger Stadium in all four years for the Catholic League Title. My senior year we won the Cathoilic League title and also won the school’s first basketball A-East Championship.

  22. Norbert Zielin, Jr

    February 19, 2017 at 1:18 am

    The church brings back good memories, from going to mass with my grandma Helen Wierzbicki to hearing stories of my mother and godmother going to school there in the 40’s. And I will never forget the special girl at St Lads, Christine Piotrowski!

  23. Dick Balogh

    July 24, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    My sympathy to St. Lad’s parishioners past and present. I lived in Hamtramck,attended St. Stanislaus in Detroit which has been closed for some time. St. Lad’s and St. Stanis were very competetive in sports. It is certainly very sad to see a parish close but wherever you go or have already gone (Retired to S.C.) take all the good memories that you experienced with you. The same God is in all parishes. Peace and all good.

  24. Matt

    March 26, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Unfortunate to hear. Was able to visit a few months back and had a great experience. When is the last mass?

  25. Wanda

    May 17, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    When did St. Ladislaus (the school) close? I went there for grade school in the 70’s.

  26. cmiles

    August 16, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    So many memories, class of “1978”

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