Farewell to Our School

Celebrate the Memories!

St. Alphonsus Alumni and friends met on Aug. 7, 2022 at the church for 11:00 mass followed by a gathering under the overhang at the school to share memories and renew old friendships.

Click here to watch the mass.

Click here for Channel 4 Coverage of the Event 

St. Alphonsus School Buildings

“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens;….A time to tear down, and a time to build….A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

As we recall the verses from Ecclesiastes, the time has now come to say goodbye to our school buildings. Their original purpose is done. They have served well and have a rich history that is to be celebrated.

Since the beginnings in 1846, St. Alphonsus Schools have educated countless thousands through the grade school, high school and religious education programs.  There were 78 graduating classes from the high school, over 7,000 graduates from 1926 through 2003.  Alumni have spread throughout the world, carrying the influence of their Catholic education far and wide. While we mourn the passing of the buildings, we celebrate the memories of the good times had inside these walls.

Although the buildings will soon be torn down, the property is not being sold.  Plans are underway for some additional parking for the church, and a beautiful landscaped green space with trees, various shrines, memorials, and outdoor stations of the cross. Some architectural details from the buildings will be saved to incorporate into the landscaping. For the first time ever, our beautiful church will be visible from Warren Ave.

Unfortunately, since the buildings have been vacant for over 10 years, they are no longer safe to allow anyone inside for tours. Pictures may be taken outside around the buildings.

(Posted July 23, 2022)

St. Alphonsus Library - October 2023

On October 22, 2023 the books from the St. Alphonsus library were unloaded at their final destination at the village of Ogoni in Nigeria.

A story about the books from our library was recently featured on WDIV Ch. 4's website.  Click HERE to read the story.

This completes the journey that began over a year ago. The books were discovered in October 2022, packed in boxes in a storage room in the activities building of the school, along with quite a few textbooks that were left behind by the charter school. It was estimated that there were over 200 boxes containing over 9,000 books. A new home for the books was sought before they were lost in the demolition of the school buildings. Fr. Anthony Kote-Witah, one of the Capuchin priests who had been assisting at our Sunday Masses was collecting book donations to establish a library at an orphanage he is building in his homeland in Nigeria. After arrangements were made to donate the library books, they were moved out of the school to Fr. Yagley Hall for temporary storage. Over the past few months, volunteers helped wrap the boxes in plastic for shipment. Thanks go out to members of the parish, alumni and Knights of Columbus for their help with this project.

St. Alphonsus Library - March 2023

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.

Night of Hope Benefit Dinner

Night of Hope has been rescheduled to April 11, 2024. Click HERE for information.

The Night of Hope dinner will 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 & orphans who are victims of crisis, war, & natural disaster. 


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, 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.

From Father’s Desk August 14, 2022 - by Fr. Terry Kerner

Dearborn Homecoming weekend was a success! And the celebration at St. Alphonsus-St. Clement on Sunday was meaningful. Homecoming gives everyone the opportunity to remember some of the happiest and most significant days in a person’s life. Recalling the events on the gridiron or on the stage can take on more than a little exaggeration with the passing of years. But the stories never lose the joy that comes with telling them. Remembering is also a time to remember, that is, to reunite with the intent of coming together to enjoy the blessings of those carefree days of past years. Sharing the tales of yesteryear can reignite the warm feelings for our parents and those of our dear friends. Recalling the names and faces of revered and not so revered, teachers and coaches can only evoke questions as to whatever happened to those legendary figures of our formative years. Soulful journeys back in time can only enrich our appreciation of who we are because of what others have been for us. What a beautiful legacy St. Alphonsus has been for its alumni. What a rich assortment of human endeavor our seven thousand alumni have enjoyed down through the years!

The future holds a place for all who have shared in the life of St. Alphonsus-St. Clement Parish. With the Family of Parish structure now being implemented the parish has once again a Religious Education program which will be starting in mid-September. Any parish parent or grandparent can enroll a child whether a member in the parish or not. RCIA (convert classes) will also be available for adults who might be in need of “catching up” with some of the sacraments. You will be hearing more about the programs in the weeks ahead. St. Vincent de Paul of St. Alphonsus-St. Clement are already collaborating with St. Maria Goretti in feeding the hungry. You might want to help. Call the office to volunteer.

As we move forward, I would hope that alumni, no matter where you might live, could come to see St. Alphonsus-St. Clement as YOUR second, or maybe even your first parish. Fr. Greg so sincerely in his homily offered this invitation this past Sunday. While in the months ahead, buildings will be coming down and our church and campus will remain as a tribute to one hundred seventy years of Faith with many more years to come. Alumni and friends; Welcome Home to the “ole neighborhood”!