Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Rite Catholic Church

Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Rite Catholic Church

11700 McDougall at Commor in Hamtramck

In 1054, a Great Schism divided the Christian church into Eastern and Western divisions. Both the Patriarch in Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, and the Bishop in Rome. Pope Leo IX, claimed that they were leading the true Christian Church, and their church could be traced directly back to St. Peter and the apostles appointed by Christ. They each excommunicated the other. This division remains 952 years later, with members of each Catholic Church seeing themselves as members of the true faith and denying the claims of the other Catholic Church.

The Eastern and Roman Catholic churches differ little in basic theological beliefs, but differ greatly in ritual, language and, especially, in organizational structure. The Bishops in Rome gradually developed a unified western church with a highly organized system of canon law. For many centuries, Latin was the official liturgical language of the Roman Church. Administration of this church was centered in Rome and directly controlled by the Pope and those he appointed. The Eastern Church—in 1054 and at present—did not have such a rigid hierarchical structure although the Patriarch at Constantinople was and is recognized as the head of the Eastern Church. This organization is often known as the Eastern Orthodox Church or the Greek Orthodox Church to distinguish it from the western Roman Catholic Church, although the theological differences are not great.

The Eastern Orthodox Church, in 1054 and at present, consistent of several different groupings of churches. They are distinguished from each other in liturgical language, ethnicity of their congregants and geography. Each of them is administered by a Patriarch located in a specific city and run by a synod of bishops of that church. They share a common theology and recognize the primary of the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Constantinople.

Over the centuries, the Roman Catholic Church sought to have these distinct Eastern Orthodox Churches disaffiliate from the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and recognize the primacy of the Bishop at Rome. At present, 22 of these former Eastern Orthodox churches have recognized the primacy of the Roman pope. The Catholic Church headed by the Pope in Rome consists of one western rite or Roman church and 22 semi autonomous eastern Catholic Churches. They retain their own liturgies, their traditional languages and are administered, not directly by the Pope of Rome, but by their own Patriarchs and synods of Bishops. These are known as Eastern Rite Catholic Churches to distinguish them from the various Eastern Orthodox churches that recognize the primacy of the Patriarch in Constantinople. The Eastern Orthodox Church currently includes 13 distinct Eastern Orthodox rites or churches centered, primarily, in Greece and Asia Minor.

The 22 distinct Eastern Rite Catholic Churches are grouped into five major divisions: Alexandrian—based in Egypt and including the Catholic Coptic church; Antiochian (Western Syria); Armenian; Chaldean (Eastern Syria and Iraq) and Byzantine—centered at Constantinople, but including 14 distinct Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. All of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches that recognize the authority of the Pope in Rome. They are sometimes called Uniate church since they are union with Rome. However, this term is used in a derogatory sense by the Eastern Orthodox faithful.

At the time of the Great Schism in 1054, Catholics in the Ukraine were a rite within the Eastern Orthodox Church. A coalition of Poland and Lithuania took control of the Ukraine in the late 1500s. The Ruthenian Orthodox Church was the major religion in the Ukraine and Belarusia at this time. In 1596, their leaders met in Brest, decided to break with the Patriarch in Constantinople, and drew up documents affiliating their religion with the Roman Pope. The Roman Church accepted them so 1596 is the founding date of the Ukrainian Eastern Right Church. Of course, not all Ukrainian Christians were willing to recognize the primacy of the Pope in Rome, so a Ukrainian Orthodox Church continues to this day. Between about 1600 and 1800, separate Ukrainian Eastern Rite Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox churches competed. The Orthodox Church was much larger in terms of members Immaculate Conception Ukrainian in Hamtramck is a Uniate Church.

Industrial developed occurred in the Ukraine in the later 19th century, but there was no strong, independent government developed. This was a component of Eastern Europe influenced by Poland, Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russia. Following the Russian Revolution in the 20th century, the Russian government took control of the Ukraine and suppressed or persecuted the Ukrainian Eastern Rite church, giving their property to the Russian Orthodox Church. By this time, there were large Ukrainian populations in the western world, so both the Ukrainian Eastern Rite Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox church survived. After 1989, the Russian government began returning the property of the Ukrainian Eastern Rite Catholic Church but bitter disputes among the Russian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Eastern Rite Church made this a challenge. The Ukraine regained its independence in 1990.

Ukrainians began coming to metropolitan Detroit shortly after 1900. The first attempt to form a Ukrainian parish in the area occurred in Cicotte Street on the west side with St. John the Baptist parish dating from 1911. A large number settled in southern Hamtramck, especially on Grayling between Lumpkin and Joseph Campau. The first Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Catholic Church was a wooden structure on Grayling opened in 1913. In 1931 - in the midst of the Depression - the parish began buying the land where this church is locatead.By 1936, this parish operated a complete elementary school. As the congregants prospered, they were able to build the massive church that you see above. The cornerstone for this church was laid in 1942 but it was some years before the building was completed. Indeed, the decoration of the interior of this church did not begin until 1962. A Ukrainian artist, Mychajlo Dmytrenko, was commissioned to beautiful mosaics and muralss - in the Eastern Orthodox style - in the church. In 1965 a wood carver, Danylo Berezowskij began creating an iconostasis. This is an elaborate nine paneled screen showing icons that symbolize the faith. In the nave of this church is a mosaic showing the Blessed Virgin Mary as the protector of the Ukraine. A number of very impressive pictures of this church are shown in the book, Detroit's Historic Places of Worship, cited below.

Detroit’s Ukrainian community benefited from an influx following World War II. In 1959, Immaculate Conception established a high school And then, in 1966, a second Ukrainian Catholic parish, St. Josephat’s, was founded in Hamtramck, but subsequently moved to Warren where it is now located. In 1980, Immaculate Conception parish purchased the former Wildwood School on Westbrook in Warren and moved their schools to that location.

There are four Ukrainian Catholic parishes in the Detroit in addition to Immaculate Conception: St. Michael’s in Dearborn; Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Dearborn Heights, St. John the Baptist in Detroit and St. Josephat’s in Warren. There are two Ukrainian Orthodox parishes in the Detroit area: Holy Trinity in Dearborn and St. Mary's Ukrainian Orthodox Cathederal in Southfield.

Architect: Howard T. Simons
Date of Construction: Completed in 1942
Use in 2012: Church
For additional information see: Marla O. Collum, Barbara E. Krueger and Dorothy Kostuch, Detroit's Historic Places of Worship (Detroit: Wayne State University
Press, 2012
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Not listed
National Registry of Historic Places: Not listed
Photograph: Ren Farley; February 3, 2006
Description updated: December, 2012

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