All Things Are Possible With God

School Properties Project

March 2023          St. Alphonsus Library
Did you know that the Capuchins supported St. Alphonsus over 100 years ago with their assistance during the parish’s early development? Our gratitude for their service was as strong then as it is today. If you attend mass on Sunday, you are sure to meet one of these priests. Having them here at St. Alphonsus - St. Clement has presented a unique opportunity to get to know more about them and their work. 

One of the priests who has recently come to celebrate mass with us is Fr. Anthony Kote-Witah. According to a recent article published in the Detroit Catholic by Janet Sugameli Biono, before Fr. Anthony became a priest, he was an activist that spoke out against the injustices happening in his homeland of Nigeria. When it became dangerous for him to remain in Nigeria, due to his activism, he escaped. After spending time in a refugee camp, he entered the Capuchins first becoming a brother and later a priest. The article also states that, “Although today, there is less fear for activists who speak out, disease, infection and death continue to result from the already polluted farmland, crops and rivers. Families have been torn apart from the devastation.”

Today, Fr. Anthony’s vision is to build an orphanage and library for the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta subregion of southern Nigeria. He desperately wants to make education an option for these children and the local adults. Since the area was colonized by the British, most people speak and read English, so books and textbooks will be valued. This is where we can give back and assist Fr. Anthony with his cause. We have books! Lots of them!

During the initial inspections of the school buildings, in preparation for the demolition, library books were not found. The library was completely empty, and it was assumed that the books had been disposed of years ago. Later in the fall, a closed and unlit storage room near the gym was opened and found to be stacked to the ceiling with boxes. The boxes contained books from the library and loose stacks of textbooks left behind by the charter school. Efforts to donate the books locally were unsuccessful until Fr. Gebre Boyine, another Capuchin, mentioned Fr. Anthony’s vision.

He immediately put us in touch with Fr. Anthony who had been accepting the donation of small boxes of books for the planned library at the orphanage. Fr. Anthony visited the parish to inspect the books and was overwhelmed, immediately agreeing to take all the books and textbooks. Soon after that, parish volunteers, alumni, and the Knights of Columbus helped load the books and move them out of the school to a safe temporary storage location. The next step in the process is to transport the books to Chicago for shipment overseas. To accomplish this task, donations and assistance are being accepted.

The project’s fundraising arm is known as the Ken Saro-Wiwa Memorial Foundation, named after an Ogoni human rights activist who was killed in 1995. The project is currently in the fundraising stage, with plans to start construction soon on nearly twenty acres of donated land in the town of Bane. It is important to note that Fr. Anthony intends to name the library the St. Alphonsus Library, continuing the incredible legacy of 160 years of education in Dearborn.

A fundraising dinner to support the project will be held in May:
Night of Hope Dinner May 10, 2023
25228 W 12 Mile Road
Southfield, MI 48034
Guest speaker: Rev. Fr. Anthony Kote-Witah OFM CAP.

Join us for a Night of Hope in benefit of the Ken Saro-Wiwa (KSW) Memorial Foundation and help kick start the building of an orphanage in Ogoni, Nigeria — which will house the homeless and orphans who are victims of crisis, war, and natural disaster.
To sponsor or attend the dinner, please contact:
Callista Ugorji (248) 933-0447 Nita Sadek (248) 444-4124

To read an article at Detroit Catholic about Fr. Anthony and his plans for the orphanage and library click HERE.

November 2022 School Buildings Update.

The asbestos abatement was completed in early October, except for the first-floor grade school windows which were found to contain asbestos in the sealant around the glass. They will be removed after the fencing is put up. The demolition of the Activities Building, Convent, Grade School, High School, Library and Overhang are pending.  DTE has not yet disconnected the utilities, and the contractor cannot safely begin work until this is done.  Once the demolition is completed, probably early in 2023, the historic St. Alphonsus Church will be visible from Warren Avenue and Schaefer Road.  Enhanced parking and landscaping will be addressed in mid-2023.  A driveway and parking will intertwine within the green space with the vision for an Our Lady of Fatima Statue, Stations of the Cross, and memorials. Both Bishop Battersby and Archbishop Vigneron support the parishes plan for its property.  All four parcels west of Schaefer Road have been sold.

Meanwhile, the parish and alumni have been working to salvage and find new homes for various items from the schools and convent.  These include the following:

The choral risers, science lab equipment, various desks, and furniture to Sacred Heart School, Dearborn.

Desks, furniture, and more science lab equipment to St. Catherine of Siena.

St. Joseph Ypsilanti- file cabinets, preschool tables, preschool chairs, desks, chemistry lab equipment, bookcases.

Divine Child- stainless steel kitchen worktables, pizza oven, rack type shelving units, warming oven, misc. kitchen equipment.

Light fixtures and misc. furniture from the convent went to a local antique resale shop.

Habitat for Humanity-A number of closet doors and miscellaneous woodwork from the high school, grade school chairs and tables, for their resale store.

A clock, gym folding chair and P.A. speaker from the high school were given to the Dearborn Historical Museum. The door from room 207 in the high school was set aside for them.

Two doors salvaged from the convent were repurposed to create a partition in the church next to the altar for the livestream control station.

The black curtain from the back of the stage to Dearborn Theater.

Alumni Association, gym folding chairs (sold out), gym floor pieces, some tiles from the gym lobby, the blue stage curtain, clocks. These items will be for sale as souvenirs at a later date.

Various other items have been salvaged and moved to a storage location for future use or disposition.

Two sale events were held, in August and October, to allow alumni and parishioners to purchase desks, furniture, and other items salvaged from the buildings.  Thank you to all the alumni and parish members who have helped with this effort.