Most Holy Trinity Catholic Parish History

August 1834    Purchased First Protestant Society Meeting House and moved it from Woodward between Larned & Congress to Cadillac Square & Bates. Fr. Martin Kundig former Vatican Swiss Guard, 23 years old appointed as Administrator, building used as hospital during cholera epidemic. Twenty-eight women serve as nurses, fourteen men as physicians beginning the “Legacy of Service”.


June 14, 1835 Trinity Sunday, building dedicated as church and Fr. Bernard O’Cavanaugh named first pastor.

1848                Bishop Peter Paul LeFevere transfers congregation to new English-speaking Cathedral of Ss. Peter & Paul located at Jefferson & St. Antoine.

1849            The parish of Most Holy Trinity is reestablished and meeting house moved to the corner of Porter and Sixth to the new neighborhood called Corktown.


1850             Fr. Moses L’Eterneau, first native born Detroit priest comes as pastor, but dies of cholera, August 14, 1851 at age 29.

Oct. 28, 1855 Cornerstone laid for present church building.  Church designed in Gothic Revival style by Irish-born Patrick C. Keely.

1837                Trinity Academy starts in rented rooms of Ste. Anne Church

1867                Tracker pipe organ (now the oldest in Midwest) built by Andreas Moeller

Aug. 30, 1867 School building opens with 70 pupils

1871                Saw new school building for “Old Trinity” The girls were taught by Emmitsburg, Maryland Daughters of Charity

1874                Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters of Monroe took charge.  Two schools merge with 12 sisters & 908 students.  It was “the outstanding Immaculate Heart School of that time.”

Early 1870’s   Present windows, including Trinity sanctuary window, designed by Ignatius Schott who also painted Stations of the Cross. Trinity window donated by the Ladies Altar Society showing God the Father’s hands supporting the arms of Christ crucified. “He has upheld us.”

1875                Pastor Fr. Bleyenberg also an inventor along with co-inventor Charles Van Depoele, provides first public exhibition of the “arc lamp” shone over the altar at Mass on Christmas. Pastor and laymen set stage for future labor unions

July 22, 1880  Altar boy outing on steamer “Mamie” ends in tragedy with death of 12 altar boys and 5 adult chaperones. Bronze plaque installed to remember those deceased.

1887                Pastor, Fr. Robert M Doman oversees building of present rectory by architectural firm Mason & Rice.

August, 1887   Fr. James Savage of Chelsea, Michigan  named pastor and remained for forty years. Dedicated to research of the state’s Native-Americans.  Collection sent to Burton International Collection.

1905                Extensive remodeling in church wired for electricity, with three-armed sconces on pillars and walls and a ring of lights at top of each pillar capital; Trinity window outlined in lights.  Floor, pews, and front doors replaced.  New steam heating installed. 

1930                Interior was painted and decorated; lighting system replaced by fixtures still used today.  This project saw walls treated to imitate stone and arches and vaults decorated with elaborate stencil patterns.

Mid-1943        Fr. Clement Kern assigned as assistant and later pastor until 1977.  He organized parishioners committed to labor & unions, migrant workers & United Farm Workers, priests with addictions or special problems, the sick (St. Frances Cabrini Clinic is now 59 years old), and an advocate of racial justice and “open housing”.  Parish’s Legacy of Service, of serving poor, sick, alcoholics, unemployed, homeless, and the “people nobody wanted” reached new levels.

June 14, 1987 A major restoration was completed by the date of rededication of the church.

Mar. 17 2001  Cardinal Adam Maida blesses 12 foot granite Obelisk commemorating 300th Anniversary of the Founding of Detroit.

2008                Most Holy Trinity School celebrates 170th Birthday.

2008                Maltese artist Edwin Campbell redecorates entire church interior.  New lighting installed to illuminate ceiling and art-work of the Evangelists.  Restoration of old wood-carved communion railing, following metal theft, September 9, 2008.

Mar. 17, 2009 New Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron celebrates St. Patrick’s Day Mass  commemorating parish’s 175 year’s of medical care to indigent.

June 7, 2009   Trinity parishioners attend blessing of newly renovated Cabrini Clinic at former Convent by Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton.

2010                Dedication of Most Holy Trinity Church’s 175th Anniversary celebrated May 30th. Fr. Russell E. Kohler, Pastor since 1991


  • Rev. Martin Kundig –                                                     Administrator 1834-1835
  • Rev. Bernard O’Cavanaugh                                                                       1835-1839
  • Rev. Martin Kundig                                                                                        1839-1842
  •  Rev. Lawrence Kilroy                                                                                  1842-1850
  • Rev. Moses L’Eterneau                                                                                 1850-1851
  • Rev. John Donahoe                                                                                         1851-1852
  • Rev. Francis H. Peeters                                                                                1852-1869
  • Rev. Aloysius L. Bleyenberg                                                                    1869-1884
  • Rev. Robert M. Doman                                                                                 1884-1887
  • Rev. James Savage                                                                                           1887-1928
  • Rev. Terrence Kelly                                                                                        1928-1947
  • Msgr. Clement Kern                                                                                        1947-1977
  • Rev. Jay Samonie                                                                                              1977-1988
  • Rev. John Nowlan                                                                                             1988-1989
  • Rev. Thomas J. Sutherland                                                                       1989-1991
  • Rev. Russell E. Kohler                                                                                   1991-2016
  • Rev. Charles Kosanke                                                                             2016 to present


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