-- Polish immigration to Detroit began in the 1870's.
The organizers of Sweetest Heart of Mary Parish were immigrants
from that section of Europe that formerly constituted the nation
of Poland. A parish school was built in 1886. Sweetest Heart of
Mary Parish was completed in 1893. The rectory on the property
was built in 1901. The school building made an addition in 1905.
also maintains a cemetery called Sacred Heart of St. Mary. This
was established in 1894. This church is the oldest Polish parish
still in operation within the boundaries of the Archdiocese of
Detroit. The parish continues to have a Polish ethnic flavor,
although Polish languages have minimal usage in worship. However,
they have Polka masses. The church holds 1,500 parishioners.
have been organizing an annual Pierogi Festival on the grounds
of the church since 1983. This event has grown from a Sunday fundraiser
into a two-day festival that draws thousands of metro-Detroiters
to the grand old church at the corner of Canfield and Russell
in the old Polish section of Detroit. I walked inside this church
and was amazed. I have never seen a more beautiful church. The
stained glass and all the altars were amazing. The detail and
architecture was like no other.
of the Pierogi Festival was an annual school reunion Mass and
picnic that was held in September to commemorate the beginning
of the school year. Sweetest Heart of Mary Schools (elementary
school and high school) had been in existence from 1886 to 1966.
During this time hundreds and hundreds of children were educated
there by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis.
The annual picnic provided alumni with an opportunity to return
to their old school and visit with old friends and faculty.
reunion picnic became too large, the festival was created. Pierogi
was chosen as the theme because they are probably the best known
Polish food. The pierogi served at the festival are all handmade
here at Sweetest Heart of Mary Church by volunteers who get together
weekly. They sell them all year around, frozen. They make about
16,000 pierogis. Servers from the Polish Village in Hamtramck
served up the Polish plates.
enjoyed the food and the entertainment was fabulous. I can see
this festival will be my tradition year after year.
more information about the Sweetest Heart of Mary Pierogi Festival,
The Detroit Princess Riverboat cruise is highly recommended for