Special to The Michigan Catholic
Northville — Good stewardship of parish resources has been a longtime priority at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Northville. Before the parish launched its Changing Lives Together campaign a year ago, the pastor, Fr. Denis Theroux, and parish lay leaders decided to retire a $1.1 million debt remaining from capital improvements made several years ago.
“We wanted to start Changing Lives Together with a clean slate and a full focus on the final pieces of the parish master plan formulated in 1999 under the leadership of then-pastor Fr. Ernie Porcari,” recalled Fr. Theroux. “We outlined our campaign with specific milestones that we would achieve depending on the funds received,” he added. By renovating their church, parishioners at Our Lady of Victory are fulfilling a 14-year-old master plan, which has been accomplished in multi-million dollar phases.
“The most exciting part of our campaign is that it didn’t solely rest on shoulders of a few big benefactors,” said Fr. Theroux. “We had two parish meetings to share information on the plans, and many parishioners and families responded with pledges early in the campaign.” Hundreds of parishioners followed Fr. Theroux’s lead in making a personal gift of $10,000 to the campaign, with one household contributing $50,000.
A year later, parishioners have pledged more than twice the parish goal and have fulfilled almost half the pledges made. Construction work to transform the church worship space started in June and completion is expected before the holidays.
“I’ll probably be pushing a vacuum around on Christmas Eve to clean up the remaining construction dust,” said Fr. Theroux, now in his eighth year as pastor at the Northville parish.
The Our Lady of Victory campus has steadily transformed since being founded in 1922. The first church building was razed in 1957 and replaced by the current structure. “In 1987 we added a gathering space, a chapel, and some other rooms,” Fr. Theroux said. “In 2006, we opened a new school building and two years later converted the old school building into parish offices, while demolishing two older buildings on the property. All that work cost $2.5 million, which was paid in full before we started Changing Lives Together. We’re very thankful to be debt-free with a good amount of funds in the parish savings.”
A new crucifix, arrived recently from Italy, will also be added to the new church sanctuary.
The school gym has been pressed into service for parish Masses as work on the church building progresses. The church was completely gutted over the summer, followed by the installation of a new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system as well as new lighting. New pews and kneelers will replace chairs and the tabernacle will be relocated to the altar area.
“There is great excitement over the project, especially as parishioners see the results of their campaign pledges taking shape less than a year after we started the initiative,” Fr. Theroux said.
A prayer team was formed for the campaign and others volunteered for parishioner-to-parishioner phone calls to every parish family. Fr. Theroux included elements of the campaign in his homilies over four consecutive Sundays leading to the campaign launch.
“A lot of this was evangelization and retelling the Our Lady of Victory story from our first Mass to the present,” said Fr. Theroux. “This is about building our future, building upon the legacy we received, and establishing our legacy for those who will follow.”