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The Institute’s First Christmas in Detroit

The Institute celebrated a beautiful and moving first Christmas at the newest apostolate in the United States, St. Joseph Oratory in Detroit.  Canon Michael Stein and Deacon Jonathon Fehrenbacher are grateful for the faithful who worked so diligently with them to prepare for Christmas, including the volunteers who cleaned and decorated the church, rectory, and hall; the St. Joseph Cappella, Chant Schola, trumpeter, and music director Michael Semaan; and those serving at the altar.

On Christmas Eve, people began filling the pews of the peaceful, low-lit church even before Confessions started at 11:00 pm.  The choral prelude commenced at 11:15 pm with a lovely arrangement of Veni, Veni, Emmanuel and then three settings of the Ave Maria by Franck, de Victoria, and Elgar.  Following a series of stirring Christmas solos, the choir finished the prelude with an a cappella Flos de radice Jesse.

At the sound of the bell at Midnight, the exquisite Procession with the Christ Child commenced, with the choir singing Stille Nacht in German.  After the Blessing of the Crèche was the Procession to the altar accompanied by Adeste Fideles, then the Solemn High Mass began.  The men chanted the propers, the choir sang de Victoria’s glorious Missa O Magnum Mysterium and accompanying motet, and at Communion Ave Verum Corpus by Elgar and a soprano solo of Laudamus Te by Mozart.  As with the opening hymn, the trumpet and organ accompanied Hark! The Herald Angels Sing for a truly joyful sound.

After Midnight Mass a lively crowd enjoyed a Hot Cocoa Social in the hall, with panettone generously offered by the historic and vibrant Eastern Market across the road from St. Joseph Oratory. Parishioners and guests exchanged Christmas greetings and made new friends on this holy night.

Christmas Day continued with a 9:00 am Low Mass of Dawn, 11:00 am Solemn High Mass of the Day, and 6:00 pm Vespers and Benediction.  St. Joseph Oratory was blessed with many parishioners and visitors at the three Christmas Masses, and mild weather to ease their winter travel.  Many people commented how touched they were by the sacred, mysterious beauty of the liturgies and the music.  Christ our Savior and Light is born in the dark of the night!  May the Christ Child strengthen St. Joseph Oratory in the new year to shine as a light in Detroit through Sacred Liturgy and Arts.


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