Holy Trinity Catholic Parish is the merged parishes of St. Agnes, St. Mary and St. Michael of Pinconning. This is our story and how we became the new community of Holy Trinity. The picture to the left is a representation of all three parishes.
St. Agnes Church
St. Agnes Church began in late 1916 when Polish immigrants led by the Rev. Fr. Podlaszewski, Pastor of St. Florian Church, Standish, held an organizational meeting. The first church committee which included Michael Piekos, Anthony Sulkowski, Wenceslaus Romanik, Wenceslaus Gramacki and Blaze Bis, worked to establish St. Agnes Parish. The committee collected $500 for a building fund starter and borrowed another $1,500 to finance the original church which was built within a month. The building was blessed by Bishop Kelly, of Grand Rapids on June 13 1917. St. Agnes became a mission of St. Florian and both were part of the Diocese of Grand Rapids.
In 1920 the women of the church stated St. Agnes Rosary Society.
On May 8, 1922, a fire complete destroyed the church which had served the congregation for a short five years. Undeterred, parishioners made plans to rebuild. Insurance money totaling $3,000 plus $2,000 in contributions helped finance the construction of a new $15,000 church on the same site.
The following year, the church purchased four acres on East Pinconning Road for a cemetery.
In 1928 Bishop Pinten of Grand Rapids made St. Agnes a parish and made St. Mary Nine Mile a mission to St. Agnes. The Rev. Fr. Casimer Szyper was the first resident pastor to serve St. Agnes Parish. He was asssignd to the church March 15, 1928.
During the tenure of Fr. Richard Jozwiak who was appointed pastor of St. Agnes in 1965, the parish retained the Bay City architectural firm of Morris & Wesolek to draw up plans for complete remodeling of the church. The $50,000 project included installation of new equipment, new entrances, stained glass windows and sanctuary appointments which brought St. Agnes in line with recommendations of he Second Vatican Council.
To celebrate completion of the renovation and mark the 50th Anniversary of the parish, there was an Open House April 23, 1967. To further celebrate the parish’s Golden Jubilee, the Most Reverend Stephen S. Woznicki, Bishop of the Saginaw Diocese, presided at a Concelebrated Mass at St. Agnes on November 12, 1967. Principle Celebrant was Fr. Jozwiak, Pastor, and Concelebrants, Fr. Ignatius Woloszyk ad Fr. Aloysius Lacki, both former Pastors. The sermon was given by Fr. Ramon Matuszewski, native son of the parish, who at the time was serving as a U.S. Navy Chaplain.
The previous year, St. Agnes joined together with St. Michael, St. Mary Nine Mile and St. Anne Linwood to form the Pinconning Catechetical center. Two mobile classroom units were bought and located next to Pinconning High School’s south parking lot.
In 1985 St. Agnes began holding Polka Masses which continued to be held during the Summer months until the final weekend. After the closing of St. Agnes, St. Mary Nine Mile continued the tradition of the Polka Masses during the summer for many years. That same year on March 5th, 1965 St. Agnes entered into one of the first ecumenical projects by joining the Pinconning United Methodist Church for the first of a series of Lenten exchanges.
Merger plans were announced in November 1998 by Bishop Kenneth Untener that St. Agnes would merge with St. Mary Nine Mile Parish due to the decline in parish priests. The merger will once again unite the two parishes which were served by one pastor form 1928-1937 when St. Mary was a mission of St. Agnes.
St. Agnes parishioner Irene Haas, who researched the church history for the parish directory noted, “St. Agnes…a parish of much love and commitment and dedication to their Polish history…St. Agnes was filled with many of God’s blessings and 82 years of many memories.”
St. Mary Church
In 1980 a community of Polish immigrants formed a settlement at the intersection of Nine Mile and Cody Estey roads. The area had been formerly called St. Johns, now known as Nine Mile. There was an elementary school, a pickle station, a grocery store and a railroad station with a depot stop. Believe it or not, Nine Mile was once listed on the official maps of the State of Michigan.
These pioneers were hard-working, energetic Catholic citizens who started farm life in a lumbering community. Their farms had to be cleared from tangled wilderness. Schools and churches were few and miles away.
The Polish settlers understood neither the English nor French languages. They found it difficult to participate in the holy liturgy, since St. Michael Church in Pinconning was primarily French at the time. the nearest Polish-language church was St. Stanislaus in Bay City.
There were only 23 Catholic families when they asked Fr. Edward Lefevre, then the pastor of St. Michael to approach Bishop Henry Richter to ask permission to build a Polish Catholic church at Nine Mile. Bishop Richter felt it would be too much of a financial burden for 23 families. Despite this refusal, the people decided on their own to build their church.
Mr. and Mrs. Albert (George) Wasielewski donated five acres of property to the new church and the work began. The families donated the material and all the labor was done by the parishioners.
The first mass in the new church took place on May 30, 1907. Bishop Richter admired their efforts and appointed Fr. Edward Koslowski, current pastor of St. Stanislaus in Bay City, to minister to the needs of these people of good faith.
The First Holy Communion class of 18 children wa held August 18, 1907. It was at this time Fr. Kozlowski decided to call it Nine Mile and gave the new church the name of St. Mary.
From 1908 through 1935 this small community of settlers continued grows as the St. Mary Nine-Mile Missioin Church. On November 1, 1935 Bishop Pinten assigned Fr. Louis Wodecki as pastor of St. Agnes with the Mission of Nine Mile. St. Mary Nine-Mile Mission Church had grown considerably. Fr. Wodecki asked the Bishop if he could build a combination church-rectory as a preliminary to St. Mary having their own pastor.
Fr. Stanley From was appointed pastor of St Mary Church and the Mission of St. Joseph in Alger on September 4, 1937. The ground was broken for the new church-rectory combination on April 18, 1938. The cornerstone was laid by Msgr. George Dequay on May 22, 1938. The rectory was completed on August 9, 1938. The first mass was celebrated on December 8, 1938.
Fr. From was the first resident pastor of the parish. The formal blessing of the new church took place on September 8, 1939 with Bishop William Francis Murphy, the first Bishop of the Saginaw Diocese.
Notably Fr. Waclaw Krawczyk was pastor from July 25, 1952 to August 15, 1957 during the Golden Jubilee of the parish which was celebrated on August 15, 1957. Fr Krawczyk was a “saver.” He manged to leave the parish with almost $100,000 when he retired at the age of 70 in 1975.
Fr. Gerald Balwinski was pastor from July 1975 through July 1980. He was the Director of the Pinconning CCD Centerith with the parishes of St. Mary, St. Michael, St. Agnes and St. Anne of Linwood sharing the responsibility of maintaining a program of religion for grades 7 through 12.
The next major renovation was in 1980 while Fr. Haremski was pastor. A new entrance to the church was constructed to make access easier for the physically challenged. The wall of the church was extended making room for 14 more pews. A new tabernacle and hand-crafted statues of the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, imported from Italy, wer purchased. During Fr. Haremski’s tenure the Diamond Jubilee of he parish was celebrated.
Fr. Joseph Favara became pastor of St. Mary-Nine Mile in July 1982. Fr. Favara came out of retirement to offer the people of St. Mary spiritual guidance and encouraged the Lay Ministry program introduced by the Saginaw Diocese. The entire dept of all the extensive restorations, including the new ceiling in the church, was eliminated.
In July of 1987 Fr. Raymond S. From was appointed pastor of St. Mary Parish and an extensive remodeling of the parish rectory was begun. A newly built garage and parish offices were added at this time. During Fr. From’s tenure volunteers of the parish were encouraged to visit the home-bound and he adult foster care facilities.
Fr. Joseph K Miller became pastor of St. Mary in July of 1995 and remained pastor through June of 2015. For 20 years Fr. Joe was the shepherd and spiritual leader of the people of St. Mary. During his tenure there were many new people added to our flock. It was Fr. Joe’s evident love for Christ that turned the hearts of many to become Catholic Christians at St. Mary Nine-Mile. For a small parish, St. Mary had at one time nine active Lay Ministers. Father taught the importance of love, education and knowing our Catholic faith and this is what inspired so many to join the Lay Ministry program and others to call St. Mary their home church.
St. Mary has always been blessed with wonderful, spiritual leaders, not all of them have been mentioned here but none of them will ever be forgotten. Due to our current culture and the saddening decline in church attendance St. Mary parishioners will join St. Michael parishioners and build this new parish of Holy Trinity. St. Mary parishioners began as settlers and we will once again uproot and make a new home as Holy Trinity. What better inspiration can there be but the love of the Trinity to leadus and help us grow into a new faith community.
St. Mary Church will be used to continue our outreach to the community with our time talent and treasures and remain a scripture and faith teaching church. As the Lord calls us on this new journey of faith St. Mary Church and her many spiritual leaders throughout the years will always be in the mind and hearts of those who worshiped here.
In the 1870’s settlers and homesteaders began to arrive in the land of swamps, brush and forests to work in the woods and mills of Bay County. The early settlers for the most part were French, German and Irish and many of these were Catholic. Churches and schools were 20 miles away.
Their spiritual needs were met by the missionaries who infrequently visited the Pinconning area. The most known of these was a Jesuit, Father F.X. Shulak, whose records show four baptisms in Pinconning in 1886 and ten in 1887. He prepared the children for First Holy Communion, blessed marriages, and blessed the graves of the deceased.
In 1887 Pinconning became a mission of St. Mary, Bay City. Visiting priests offered Masses in private homes until McCormick Hall was acquired for use. In 1888 a group of men erected a small church in an old fashioned “building bee”. Pews were not installed until 1892. The first Sunday Mass was celebrated by Father J.G. Sanson in April 1889. St. Michael Parish was established with Father Charles Dequoy as pastor in 1891. He began building a rectory. Several missions that had been attached to St. Mary, Bay City, were placed under the care of the pastor of St. Michael until they became parishes.
Father Dequoy’s successor, Father Edward Lefebvre, purchased land for a cemetery.
At the direction of Father Edward Racette in 1914, plans were drawn for a school which opened in 1917. Five eighth grade students graduated in 1922.
Father Thomas Albin’s pastorate was brief and he was succeeded by Father Flajole in 1921. A convent was built for the Sisters of Mercy and a display of the Crucifixion group was erected in the cemetery. Father Flajole is buried on the west side of the altar in St. Michael’s Cemetery.
Father George Gougeon was appointed pastor in 1929. Father began an addition to the school and composed the music for a school song, “All Hail, St. Michael School”.
Father Albert Baumann assumed the duties of the parish in 1937 and retired in 1967. During his pastorate, the addition of the school was completed, the sanctuary of the church was enlarged, and improvements were made to the buildings. In June 1957 the parishioners began a drive to acquire money to build a new church. Ground was broken in 1960, and on Holy Saturday, April 1, 1961, the first services were held in the new church building. St. Michael Parish celebrated its diamond jubilee and Father Baumann’s golden jubilee as a priest in 1966. The K through eighth grade school continued after the high school closed in l966. Father Baumann retired Pastor Emeritus and resided in Pinconning until his death in 1969. It was his wish to be buried in St. Michael Cemetery at the foot of the shrine.
With the ending of Vatican II, there was a liturgical renewal throughout the Catholic Church. A great effort was made to involve the laity in the working decisions of the parish. In 1969 Father Henry Eickholt, Father Baumann’s successor, began the implementation of the guidelines for renewal in St. Michael Parish. Father began renovating the worship space, working with the laity, establishing parish committees, and involving the parishioners in religious celebrations.
Father George Garmyn was assigned pastor in l973. The school was old and the fire marshal condemned parts of the school for student use. Student classrooms were moved into the gym. Father finalized the plans for the construction of an addition of five classrooms, bathrooms, principal’s office, a teacher’s room and storage space. Stained glass windows, depicting Biblical scenes, replaced the windows in the church. The footing and the foundation for the school were in place when Father was transferred.
A new pastor, Father Richard Jozwiak, arrived in the summer of 1979. The addition of the school was finished and following the recommendations of the Education and Finance Commissions of the Parish Council, a new kitchen and the remodeling of the first floor classrooms were completed, the old convent was demolished and parking areas were resurfaced.
Msgr. Francis Murray, Father Ramon Matuszewski, and Father Steve Killey continued God’s work in the parish. Remodeling projects and improvements were made to the rectory and school as needed. Liturgies and prayer became more meaningful in the development of spiritual life.
The cultural changes in society, the lack of priests, and the lack of church attendance, became a turning point in the Diocese. There were changes in church personnel and the merging of churches became a reality. New parishes were being established throughout the diocese.
In 2006 Father Joseph Miller, pastor of St. Mary Nine Mile, was appointed Sacramental Minister of St. Michael and Deacon Ralph Brisson was appointed Pastoral Administrator. With their commissions and councils they were to care for the spiritual and material needs of their parish families. After Deacon Ralph’s death in 2010, Gary Patelski was named Parish Administrator. He was ordained a Deacon in 2011 and continued to work with Father Miller. They were given a mission to join the parishioners of St. Mary and the parishioners of St. Michael to establish a new parish on the site of St. Michael Church. St. Michael Parish will close with a final liturgy Saturday, June 27, 2015.
We thank God for the many blessings He has given us, our former pastors and religious, and the many parishioners, who have sacrificed so much and worked so diligently to establish St. Michael Parish.
We pray that “With the Divine Guidance of the Holy Trinity, we continue Christ’s ministry of welcoming, teaching, caring, and supporting each other through prayer and action”. (Mission statement of Holy Trinity Parish)