Priests at Most Holy Redeemer in Mexicantown can't put finger on cause, but note God's grace at work in daily devotion 

DETROIT — “If you build it, they will come,” worked for the fictional Field of Dreams. However, “If you tell them, they will come,” seems to be working extraordinarily well for the Holy Hour at Most Holy Redeemer Parish, adjacent to Detroit’s Mexicantown.

The church, which is run by the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), has been experiencing a marked increase in attendance at its weekday Holy Hours — to the pleasant surprise of parish leaders.

“When I got here in June of last year, we didn’t have anyone at all,” Fr. Anthony Blount, SOLT, said. “But lately for the past several months, we’ve had about 50 people on a regular basis. They are not part of our community (the SOLTs) — but they are welcome, of course — so I don’t know where the increase is coming from.”

The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, which was founded in 1958 by Fr. James Flanagan in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M., came to the Archdiocese of Detroit in 2011. Currently three priests, two brothers, four seminarians and two sisters from the order serve at Holy Redeemer.

A sister prays in silence at Most Holy Redeemer Church on Detroit's southwest side during a morning Holy Hour on a cold February day. (Valaurian Waller | Special to Detroit Catholic)

In addition to SOLT community members, Fr. Blount noted that a wide range of lay faithful have been coming to adoration, which takes place from 7:15 to 8:15 a.m., followed by Mass at 8:30.

“We have mothers with babies, older people, everybody,” Fr. Blount said. “They don’t always stay for Mass, but they do come.”

The Holy Hour begins after Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church. The hour begins with the traditional hymn, “O Salutaris Hostia,” and finishes with the “Tantum Ergo” and Benediction ceremony.

“The rest is total silence,” Fr. Blount said. “I think they are longing for silence.”

Because Holy Redeemer is such a large building (it was once believed to be largest Roman Catholic parish in North America, seating 1,400 people), the increased number of adorers is not readily noticeable. Typically, adorers are scattered throughout the nave of the Roman-basilica-styled church, which is darkened because of the early morning hour. The lighting is focused on the altar and the monstrance.

Holy Hours have long been a staple in Catholic prayer life. Usually during a Holy Hour, the Blessed Sacrament is displayed in a gold Monstrance for people to adore in recognition of Jesus Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Some people make it a habit to attend regularly, whether daily or on a specific day of the week. Others attend to pray for a special intention.

Candles surround a statue of the child Jesus on a side altar at Most Holy Redeemer Church.
A photo of a little girl sits next to a candle on a side altar at Most Holy Redeemer Church during a morning Holy Hour. (Photos by Valaurian Waller | Special to Detroit Catholic)

Local residents say they receive strength for their day by starting it before the exposed Blessed Sacrament.

"At the Holy Hour, I have received the grace of God,” Oralia Solis said. “In difficult moments, by being with Him in prayer I receive the strength that I need, and in prayer I have received an answer from God. I believe that He is really in the Most Holy Sacrament to give me life.”

Mary Espinosa agrees: "Being in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament every morning is very pleasant. It is peace, serenity and strength. It is renovation. It prepares me to start my day with my family and my work. Being in silence with Jesus, contemplating his face gives my existence a purpose. I feel comforted and I enjoy those moments we spend together listening to each other’s hearts."

While Fr. Blount and the priests at Most Holy Redeemer have been mentioning the Holy Hour more frequently in their homilies, he said there has not been an aggressive campaign to drive attendance.

“We have been telling people about the joy of adoration,” he said. “It is good for the soul to do so. Even five minutes is good.”

While Fr. Blount is not aware of any healings or answers to prayer that have resulted from the Holy Hours, “I really haven’t asked,” he said.

“Some people have been telling me that they love it,” he said. “They are being fed.”

Attend a Holy Hour

The Holy Hour at Most Holy Redeemer Parish takes place from Mondays through Saturdays from 7:15 to 8:15 a.m. The church is at 1721 Junction Street, Detroit, MI 48209. For more information, call (313) 842-3450 or email 1880mhredeemer@gmail.com.