St. Mary Roman Catholic Church at 210 West Main Street, Manchester, MI 48158 US - Migrant Ministry: A Short History 1998-2003
Migrant Ministry: A Short History 1998-2003
by Joanne Fredal, founding coordinator Washtenaw Region Migrant Ministry Diocese of Lansing
St. Mary’s Migrant Ministry 1998-2003
by Joanne Fredal
Prior to 1988 Father Schlinkert, pastor of St. Mary, had baptized migrant children at parents’ request. I was already involved for two years as outreach representative of Manchester Family Service to visit migrant families because I live so close to the DuRussel Farms.
In September 1988 at the invitation of Maria T. Rubio I attended the “Quinceanera” of her daughter, Maria, at St. Mary Church. The Quinceanera is a grand celebration for girls turning 15 that involves a Mass, adult sponsors, female attendants and their escorts (up to 14 of them, one for every year leading up to the 15th), dinner and dancing: it’s a lot like a wedding. The Quinceanera marks that the girl is becoming a woman with more responsibility.
Also, in 1988 I read in the Catholic Times (Weekly) about Catholic Relief Services giving a donation to Sister Jean O’Connor, IHM, of Cristo Rey Community Center to assist migrant workers in the Lansing Diocese return to their homes after the poor Michigan growing season. Because of drought and lower yield of crops they had much lower income. I called Sister Jean to tell her that there were over forty migrant families in Washtenaw County at DuRussel Farms that could use some assistance as well. She was unaware there were any migrant families in our area, and from 1988 I became coordinator for Washtenaw Region for Migrant Ministry for the Lansing Diocese through Cristo Rey under Sister Jean.
Migrant Ministry for the Lansing Diocese is now under the direction of Serapio Hernandez in the Diocesan Office of Hispanic and Migrant Ministry. With the cooperation of Father Schlinkert, Father Murray, Father Irvin, and our current pastor, Father Timothy Krzyzaniak, the program of Church outreach to migrant families through St. Mary of Manchester has developed to providing Spanish Masses, sacramental preparation for Baptism, First Eucharist, and Confirmation, catechesis for adults and teens, and weddings.
St. Mary Migrant Ministry promotes volunteer visiting teams to become acquainted socially with the migrant families. We have bilingual volunteers from St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Ann Arbor who have developed the adult catechesis program called Delegates of the Word and to also lead the Rosary and Bible study at the farm biweekly. We start the Migrant Ministry Program in mid-May with the blessing of migrant houses and the fields at DuRussel Farms followed by an outdoor Mass and potluck supper. Father Matt Weber and Father Cecilio Silguero of St. Louis Center in Chelsea have been major participants in the migrant ministry.
In August, Bishop Carl Mengeling celebrates Mass at DuRussel’s for the migrant families followed by a potluck supper prepared by the migrant women. The summer season closes with a bilingual parish Mass at St. Mary’s in Manchester and a Farewell Fiesta at the Parish Center.
Volunteer visitors to the migrant families do not have to be bilingual. The primary objective of St. Mary of Manchester Migrant Ministry is to let the migrant families who work at DuRussel Farms from May to October each year know that the Church welcomes them as parishioners and is present to help meet their material needs as well as spiritual needs. Any person interested in Migrant Ministry may contact St. Mary Parish Office.