Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,
Many blessings as we begin the school year - it is always so good to get everyone back again. Over the last few weeks, I have enjoyed joining the cross-country team during some of their practices. I can’t keep up with all of the young pups but they are helping keep this old man in shape!
September 6th is the 34th anniversary of Fr. Loewen’s passing. I have heard his name from many parishioners since arriving here but it is neat to see some of his history and impact on our parishes.
Fr. Gerald Loewen was a native of Detroit and was educated at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and at Mount St. Mary’s in Norwood, OH. Fr. Loewen started his pastorship at Sacred Heart on June 29th, 1959. While here, Fr. Loewen was asked to minister to both Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake in Manitou Beach.
During the fall of 1959, the church underwent a major interior redecorating process. When this project was completed in November of 1959, the parish had a celebration for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the parish back on October 23rd, 1859.
Fr. Loewen was pastor during the tornado disaster on Palm Sunday, April 11th, 1965, which destroyed much in Branch, Hillsdale, and Lenawee counties, including the church in Manitou Beach.
On July 21st, 1971, after one hundred years of being part of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Sacred Heart Parish was transferred to the Diocese of Lansing. In the fall of 1978, Fr. Loewen oversaw the re-opening of Sacred Heart School.
On May 1st, 1979, Fr. Loewen ended his pastorship at Sacred Heart, wanting to “slow down” a bit as he had been serving two parishes for the past 20 years. He moved to the rectory in Manitou Beach and became the full-time pastor at St. Mary on the Lake. Fr. Loewen passed away on September 6th, 1988 and is buried in the churchyard at St. Mary on the Lake.
This is the humbling reality of following Jesus: we are put in a particular place at a particular time to serve with the particular gifts and weaknesses that we each have. I am always surprised by how He uses both for the sake of the Kingdom. This was true during Fr. Loewen’s many years of faithful service and it is encouragement for us to persevere in the place God has put us.
After the 9:30am Mass on Sunday, Sept 4th, we will gather by his grave at St. Mary’s for a small prayer service followed by cookies and cupcakes. My dear brother, may you rest in peace.