St. Gerard Church History
"There was no rectory, no church, and no parishioners! Ignoring these minor obstacles, Fr. Weber accepted an invitation to stay at St. Vincent's Home for Children and contracted with the Sisters of St. Joseph to take a census of the area within the proposed parish boundaries.
"By July 27th, 300 Catholic families had registered, and Sunday services were begun in the gymnasium of Bretton Woods School, courtesy of the Waverly School District. Our name: St. Gerard Parish, in honor of St. Gerard Majella, Patron of Mothers.
"Life in the Bretton Woods gym was an adventure! Each Saturday volunteers arrived to set up for Saturday Mass. The portable altar and confessional were assembled and put into place. Local gardeners came loaded down with flowers for the altar. On breezy Sundays, opening the door for ventilation served to extinguish the altar candles!"
Mrs. Mary McCarthy, St. Gerard Parish writer, recorded the above cherished memories of the activities which followed the establishment of St. Gerard parish in June, 1958.
Bishop Joseph H.. Albers had giving thought to starting a new parish on the west side of Lansing before 1958. In 1953, a 39 acre plot of land was purchased as a future parish site. Bishop Albers direct Rev. John Weber to build on the Willow Street end of the land. Msgr. O'Rafferty High School would later be built on the Saginaw Street side of the property.
The first bulletin was printed on September 14, 1958. It gave the rectory address as St. Vincent's Home. The chapel at St. Vincent's Home was the site of parish baptisms and weddings until the temporary church was built. The Joseph Risley farm home was moved from its original location and becoame St. Gerard's rectory. Fr. Weber had an open house in his new home in April, 1959.
The parishioners were asked to donate an hour's salary a week to provide funds to build a temporary church, school and offices. The average hourly wage was thought to be $3. Ground was broken in April, 1959 for a church/gym and four classrooms. The classrooms were left unpartitioned and were built first. As soon as they were usable, church services were transferred there. The first liturgy in the church was Christmas Midnight Mass in 1959. The 800 seat church was packed and the tradition began of singing "Silent Night" after the Mass was concluded.
In the fall of 1960, St. Gerard School opened with one grade. The Sisters of St. Joseph from Nazareth, Michigan, began teaching in the school in the fall of 1961. The school now spans kindergarten through eighth grade and has about 530 students.
Fr. Weber announced a fund drive for a permanent church in October, 1974. Within three months, the $350,000 goal had been surpassed by $180,000. The present church was dedicated by Bishop James S. Sullivan on June 15, 1975.
St. Gerard celebrated its silver jubilee as a parish and the silver jubilee of Fr. Weber as pastor in 1983. Bishop Kenneth J. Povish presided at the liturgy of thanksgiving for the 25 years of grace in which the Catholic faith had been nurtured and shared under Fr. Weber's very capable leadership.
Due to health problems, Fr. Weber retired in June, 1988. He died on January 26, 1995, after bravely coping with Alzheimers Disease for about six years.
Fr. Sylvester Fedewa became pastor in June, 1988, and served in that capacity until his retirement on June 24, 1998. Several months prior to his retirement, Fr. Fedewa became monsignor Fedewa. Monsignor Fedewa, who was born and lived near Westphalia as a child, has been a priest in our diocese since 1954 and served as Diocesan Vicar General for the last 13 years.
Under Monsignor Fedewa's leadership, St. Gerard Parish continued to grow. A Spring parish festival and a Fall parish picnic are two social functions which contribute to the life and spirit of St. Gerard. In the fall of 1995, the school invested in the placement of Macintosh computers in every classroom. This investment will keep st. Gerard school on the cutting edge of Catholic Education as we approach the 21st century. The school si filled to capacity, parking has been increased and other improvements have been made including the interior renovation of the church in 1997. In May of 1998, St. Gerard parish celebrated its 40th Anniversary.
Fr. John P. Klein succeeded Monsignor Fedewa as pastor of St. Gerard on June 24, 1998. Fr. Klein, a Fowler native, was ordained in 1978. He came to St. Gerard from St. Agnes Parish in Flint where he served as pastor.
Welcome to St. Gerard Parish! We pray that you may become a vital part of our living history as we grow in faith.