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Archbishop names Patron Saint of Detroit

By, Oralandar Brand-Williams, Detroit News staff writer

Detroit Catholic Archbishop Allen Vigneron announced that Saint Anne, the grandmother of Christ and the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is now the patron saint for Detroiters.

“Saint Anne has been integral to the story and history of Detroit and the first Catholic presence in southeast Michigan,” said Vigneron today. “I am happy to announce that Saint Anne has been, is and ever will be our patron saint.” A patron saint is viewed as an advocate or intercessor for a chosen place or activity.

Vigneron made the announcement at the end of a Mass on May 5 for the ordination of three new auxiliary Catholic bishops for the archdiocese. The three-hour long service was held at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Woodward Avenue.

After becoming archbishop, Vigneron learned Detroit did not have a patron saint and the archdiocese announced a campaign of sorts to gather nominations for a saint. Several hundred people responded in letter and emails who they thought should be the city’s patron saint. St. Anne was the most popular.

Fr. Thomas Sepulveda, the pastor at St. Anne’s, said the Vatican’s selection of St. Anne is “recognition for what has been known for 300 years: that St. Anne has been a very special person for people of Detroit.”

St. Anne parish is located on St. Anne Street, on the city’s southwest side. The church was founded in 1701 two days after Detroit’s founder Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac landed in the city. St. Anne is the second oldest continually-operating parish in the country, said officials for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

The news of Detroit’s new patron drew loud applause at the ordination for the three new bishops. The new bishops are Monsignor Donald Hanchon, the pastor of Holy Redeemer parish on the city’s southwest side; Fr. Michael Byrnes, the vice-rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and Fr. Jose Arturo Cepeda, a priest from the Archdiocese of San Antonio who is rector of Assumption Seminary in San Antonio.

An estimated 1,000 people packed the cathedral for the ordination. “I’m excited,” said the 63-year-old Hanchon. “It’s a peaceful kind of excitement.”

Hanchon will work in the Archdiocese’s central region which is comprised of about 50 parishes in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.

Byrnes, 52, will work with 66 parishes in Macomb and St. Clair counties, as well as Grosse Pointe. Byrnes said he feels “pretty peaceful” but that “it’s been kind of a madhouse getting to this day.”

A former pastor of Presentation parish in Detroit, Byrnes said he would like to continue some work in the city focusing on evangelization efforts in the community.

Cepeda, 41, the youngest auxiliary bishop in the history of the Catholic Church in America, oversees the northwest region of the Archdiocese, which includes Farmington and some other Oakland County cities.

Cepeda said he also is “at peace and excited” over his elevation as bishop. He said in addition to his new duties as bishop, he also would like to work to bring men into the priesthood and women into religious life.

“They say once a vocation director always a vocation director,” said Cepeda about his former role in San Antonio and his desire to bring more people into the church as priests and nuns.

The men will assist Detroit Catholic Archbishop Allen Vigneron in guiding the six-county, 1.4 million member Catholic diocese.

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