8929 50th Ave, 49340
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From out of dense wilderness, a tiny log church came into being - it was called St. Michaels. George Minkel, St. deeded one acre of land for that cause on October 4, 1871. That plot of ground was located just west of the home of Tate Albert Doerr. Early pioneers of the Catholic faith came from Canada, some from Germany, some from various states, especially New York. Most of them were of German descent - strong, hardy people who endured many hardships.
In 1886, the parishioners decided to build a new church. The present site was chosen because of its convenient location. John Matzen donated the land to the Diocese of Grand Rapids. Money was raised by popular subscription and most of the labor was donated. John Schrodet was the carpenter and did the work for $900.
In 1888, many more homes had been established. The parish roster contained these names: Aulbach, Baumann, Bierschbach, Detzler, Doerr, Fate, Flachs, Gietzen, Hessel, Kneg, Kreutz, Lehnert, May, Mayer, Matzen, Miller, O'Brien, Ockert, Ortwein, Rettinger, Ruetz, Schiffer, Schoner, Simon, Smith, Snider, Stadtfeld, Stroh, Wendling, Wernette and Zimmer.
Father Steffen was the first resident pastor. He was appointed in August 1888. He served until 1892. During this time, the bells were donated - the large one by Michael Miller. The altar was constructed. The old Parish House was moved to the present grounds from its original location, and used as a school.
In 1898, John O'Brien and John Hendermeir answered their country's call in the Spanish-American War - the first from their locality.
In 1903, Father Bernard Kettman, skillful as a carpenter, supervised and helped to build the school, a brick structure that was considered very beautiful at the time. It consisted of two classrooms on the east half of the two-story building, with the Sisters' convent and chapel on the west side. A proud parish opened its school in 1904 with Sisters of Mercy in charge. Sister Mary Helena was the first principal.
Many still remember Father Abel's time at St. Michael. The parish grounds embraced an old rectory, a barn, the brick school and outdoor toilets. There were two rows of sheds across the road, east from the four corners. The sheds offered shelter for the horses while parishioners attended mass. Father Abel was the last priest to own a horse and buggy, as well as the first to have a car.
Father William Schueller was pastor of St. Michael from 1914 to March 1924. It was during this time a cyclone did much damage to the steeple of the church and extensive repairs were needed. The new rectory was built in 1923 under the supervision of Father Schueller.
Parishioners donated the labor to redecorate the church during the depression era in 1930. On May 4, 1948, construction of the Sister's present convent began. Mr. and Mrs. James Crowley donated a shrine honoring Our Lady of Lourdes. Approximately 100 tons of stone make up the shrine. Some stones came from distant lands, but many of the choicest ones were found in our own area.
In the fall of 1959, ground was broken for a new school. Classes were moved there on January 3, 1961.
After much discussion, it was decided to vote on a "new church" proposal, which was approved by the people of the parish. Groundbreaking services for the new church were held on June 23, 1974. Transition into the new church was July 20, 1975.
Several of the statues from the old church were restored and incorporated into the décor of the new church.