History of St. Matthias

The Beginning
St. Matthias Parish began as a mission of St. Lawrence Church of Utica. From February of 1960 to June of that year Holy Mass was celebrated in the Sterling Junior High School by Fathers DeKeyser and Canavan. On June 24, 1960, Father Partensky became the pastor of St. Matthias. His residence in those early months was the rectory at St. Lawrence.

Church Construction Begins
The next step of St. Matthias Parish occurred January 15, 1961 with the ground breaking for the temporary Church and Rectory.

The sanctuary seats 900 parishioners, constructed at a cost of $129,000.  There would eventually be a 10-room school.  Construction of a permanent sanctuary was planned for the future.

Besides handling of a shovel by pastor Father Partensky, there were also representatives of the parish to put a spade into the ground so that in united effort all cooperated in obtaining the goal of a fitting "Home" for God. Mr. Paul Malburg represented the Church Committee members. Mr. Leo Theut as president of the ushers was present. Mrs. Larry (Donna) Trimble, president of the Ladies’ Altar Society was the representative of all the ladies of the parish.

The ladies were organized into the Altar Society on August 24, 1960; the Men’s Club was organized March 8, 1961, using the facilities of St. Lawrence .

Church Corner Stone and Time Capsule

st. matthias cornerstoneThe laying of the corner stone for the temporary Church took place June 3, 1961 with Rev. Edward DeKeyser doing the honors. In the box which was placed within the stone was the following articles: a list of the members of all the Parish Guilds comprising the Altar Society; the listing of the officers and members of the Ushers and the parish Men’s Club; Church Committee Altar Boys and copy of the first issue of the parish weekly as well as today’s issue. A copy of the letter appointing your pastor to the parish and the boundaries of the parish at the present time. The first pages of the Tri-City Progress and Sentinel of Utica. The first page of the Michigan Catholic for this Sunday. A picture of St. Matthias. A United States coin dated 1960 & 1961. A medal of the Sacred Heart and Blessed Mother. A picture of the Ground-Breaking Ceremony on January 15, 1961, was also be included.

Archbishop dedicates the New St. Matthias
Rev. John F. Dearden Archbishop of Detoit, formally dedicated the new St. Matthias Church on 19 Mile Road in Sterling Township at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, 1961
The Archbishop was assisted by the Rt. Rev. Edward DeKeyser, pastor of St. Lawrence parish and dean of the northern deanery, and Rev. George E. Ging, both serving as chaplains.
Officers of the Mass were Rev. Leonard J. Partensky, St. Matthias pastor, and Rev. John Jordan.
The dedicatory sermon was by Rev. Joseph Kubik, professor at St. Cyril and Methodius Seminary at Orchard Lake, and master of ceremonies was Rev. Joseph Imesch.
Music for the liturgy was provided by the St. Matthias choir. The new parish, serves 550 fmailies in the Dresden Village and Tacoma Park area.

First Masses
The first Sunday Mass was on August 27, 1961. The Mass schedule was 7:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.  It certainly was a joy to all to be able to kneel comfortably on the padded kneelers installed for your convenience; and to sit in the fine new pews instead of chairs. We trust that all were happy and pleased with the appearance of our new Church.

The First Parish Mission
The first parish mission was given in February, 1962, by Father Joseph Lima.

New School Blessed and Opens
Bishop J. Donnelly blessed the new school facilities in June, 1966.
The school opened as a catechetical center in September, 1966, staffed by Sisters and lay teachers.

Sisters Move In
The Sisters moved into the new convent in September, 1966.

Archdiocesan Debt
In accordance with the Archbishop’s direction, one-half of the cost of the parish site needed to be paid for by the people of St. Matthias. In a short time we were out of debt with the property paid for in full. The sum total of 17,901.25 plus an additional amount of $158.34 for interest was done in five

Mens Club
There were 45 men at the initial meeting. Many more were unable to make this meeting but will show for the next. Some men did not come because they were fearful of putting forth a little effort for the cause of Christ. Yet perhaps these men are anxious to make head-way in organizations that work for material things and their own welfare.

Blessing of Homes
Your Pastor will be visiting you soon. Homes need to be blessed. The blessings of God are needed above all else. So in the coming weeks we will make an effort to bless all the homes and meet you personally.

Parking Ushers
Assignments for Parking Lot duty is as follows: Zone #6 have the 8:30 am Mass. Zone #4 have the 10:00 am Mass & Zone #5 have the 12 am Mass. Parking ushers are reminded that cars are not to be parked beyond the end of the building. This does not allow for safety. Cars in front of the church parked on an angle are for Ushers only. These cars should be clearly marked with special cards.

Seat Collection was 25 cents.

No Seat Collection  June 4, 1961 The Seat offering was discontinued at St. Matthias. "Why not add that additional 25 cents to your regular Sunday offering and increase our revenue by that little amount. After all it is only the price of a pack of cigarettes."

Parish Young Man Ordained to Priesthood
St. Matthias takes great pride to have the privilege of the first young man from the parish to offer his first Mass at out altar. Father Benedict Marco Paletti, F.S.C.J., son of Mr. & Mrs. Rocco Paletti of 11954 Diehl Drive was ordained to the holy priesthood on Sunday, May 23, 1965, by Most Rev. Karl J. Alter of Cincinnati, Ohio, at Sacred Heart Mission Seminary in Cincinnati.

Recent Additions and Updates at St. Matthias

Father James O'Leary

Fr. James J. O'Leary joined St. Matthias as an assisting Priest in 2009. He was called to be with the Lord  March 20, 2013 at the age of Age 82.

He was ordained June 2, 1956 by Edward Cardinal Mooney at the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit, after attending Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, MI, and St. John's Seminary in Plymouth, MI.

Throughout his many years of service to the Lord, Fr. O'Leary was a Priest in the following parishes:

  • St. Lucy - St. Clair Shores, MI
  • St. Agatha - Redford, MI
  • St. Jude - Detroit, MI
  • St. Pius X - Southgate, MI
  • St. Hubert - Harrison Twp., MI (retired from St. Hubert in 2005.)

He grew up in Detroit, the son of Irish immigrants.  His father worked for Ford Motor Company at the Rouge plant.  Throughout his youth, his family attended St. Agnes parish in Detroit.