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Franciscans Reach Out to Detroit’s Downtrodden

Posted by Guest Blogger on 11/28/15 2:00 AM

St.-Aloysius-Detroit-185x185.jpgSt. Aloysius Community Center had its beginning with the arrival of the Franciscan friars of St. John the Baptist Province in 1992. Encouraged by Archbishop Vigneron, the Friars are dedicated to following Jesus by living and working among the poor through the community of St. Aloysius Parish. We are situated in a widely diverse area of downtown Detroit. We work with all of the people in the neighborhood to address needs of companionship, food, clothing, and emergency shelter.

We also focus on the critical needs of the tenants of many low-income housing buildings in the area. Our parish nurse works to address health and wholeness issues within our community-at-large. After the closing of our Community Center a few years ago, we are now attempting to provide all of these services in a smaller fashion—on the streets and in the community housing areas. This ad gentes style of ministry means we are now more focused on going to the people, rather than them coming to us.

St. Aloysius is often called Everybody’s Church; so today we focus on taking the church to the people.

Canticle Café Productions

Canticle Café Productions is a ministry of St Aloysius using the talents and resources of volunteers to produce goods for sale to help fund the outreach ministries of the parish. As an offshoot of the former Cantlcle Café, Canticle Café Productions has produced and sold goods that are an expression of Franciscan spirituality since 2008. The original Canticle Café setting was used as a serving model for the Warming Center of St. Aloysius community. As a means of fundraising for the Center, Fair Trade coffee was repackaged and sold under the Canticle Café brand.

Eventually, volunteers began collecting old church candles and remodeled them into today’s Friars Light candles. As speakers visited parishes and other venues to present the outreach ministries of St. Aloysius, they would take coffee and candles to seek donations at a suggested amount of $10.00 each.

Over time, production of Christmas baskets, T-shirts and mosaics became part of the production processes, and a significant number of donations were received. Today, a new version of the popular Friar Bites dog biscuits is also being produced, and we are currently producing wooden bird houses from scrap lumber. The houses are decorated by volunteers. Production of all items takes place in the lower rooms of the Felician Convent at St. Josaphat Parish on Canfield Street in Detroit.

Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers, the Canticle Café Production ministry is capable of generating about $40,000 net profit annually. Marketing these products has essentially been by word of mouth and presentations at various parishes, organizations and schools throughout the Detroit metropolitan area, and a foray into direct marketing Friar Light candles in a small catalog from a Benedictine monastery in New York.


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Topics: Inspiration, Featured, Franciscan