RINSING — For 100 years, St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church has been a mainstay of the town of Flushing and a mainstay for Catholics in the community.
This legacy will be honored with a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the parish’s existence in Flushing from September 15-18.
St. Robert’s, located at 310 N. Cherry Street, will kick off the anniversary activities with nationally acclaimed speaker Rebecca Kiessling on Sept. 15 beginning at 6:30 p.m. Kiessling will speak on various Catholic social topics and host a Q&A- answers.
The church will also host a pulled pork picnic on September 18 after the 10:30 a.m. Sunday mass. There will be music, games for children, raffles, an open house for St. Robert and a scavenger hunt for prizes from noon to 3 p.m. All members of the community are invited.
People who have been touched in any way by the church can also sign a special birthday banner, including current and former parishioners, alumni of St. Robert’s Catholic School, and people who are married or baptized in the church.
Before the picnic, Saint-Robert will open its doors for a period of Eucharistic adoration from Friday, September 16 to the morning of Saturday, September 17.
Tim Cassady, St. Robert’s director of faith formation, said the church has strived to be a spiritual anchor for parishioners over the past century and a beacon of awareness for the
“It’s a place where people can come when they’re in need, whether it’s a physical need or a spiritual need,” he said.
“Whatever role we play, whether small or big, we want to lend a hand and make it a great community.”
Although the church is celebrating 100 years in Flushing, St. Robert Bellarmine Parish itself dates back to 1875, when the first church in the Catholic community of Flushing was built in nearby Hazelton Township near the M- 13 and Coldwater Road. Masses were celebrated even earlier (in 1854) in the homes of Irish Catholics who settled in the
Prof. Robert W. Haire, pastor of St.
Michael Church in Flint, guided the St. Robert
Parish as the first church was built in the late 1800s. The name “St. Robert” was likely chosen to honor the patron saint of Haire,
Robert Bellarmine, an Italian Jesuit and cardinal in the 1500s who is considered a patron saint of catechism and the teachings of the faith.
As Flushing began to grow in the early
1900, a petition was sent to the bishop of
Detroit requesting the construction of a new church in the village. In October 1919, Fr. Thomas
Hussey received permission to build a church on land donated by William Frawley, just north of today’s Flushing business district.
The earth was laid for the new church of
1919, and the brick structure itself, which stood where the current church parking lot is, was completed and opened in 1922.
In 1937, the parish of Saint-Robert was placed under the jurisdiction of the new diocese of Lansing. Pr. William DesLongchamps also buys a house which will become a presbytery on Henry Street and the property of a future school.
Prof. Charles Jacobs, who replaced DesLongchamps in 1953 at St. Robert, oversaw the establishment of St. Robert Catholic School in 1954. The nine-room school, located on the corner of McKinley Road and Henry Street, began with 200 students in grades 1–7. An eighth grade was added in 1955, and construction of seven new halls began in 1961.
St. Robert opened its current largest church building in 1962, and the old church was demolished. A grand opening of the new building took place on May 19, 1963.
The parish continued to grow during the 1970s and 1980s and saw further expansion, including the addition of an activity center, the installation of stained glass windows, remodeling of the altar area and a redesign from the basement of the church.
In total, St. Robert has had 14 pastors and more than 30 associate pastors over the past 100 years. Prof. Jonathan Perrotta is the current pastor and has served in the parish since the fall of 2018.
Today, approximately 1,000 member families belong to Saint-Robert. The church hosts several groups, such as the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women’s Council, and promotes a variety of programs and programs, including a school booster program, funeral ministry, regular Bible study, group divorce support, a communion program for homebound parishioners, and a Good Shepherd catechesis program for children in kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Additionally, the church’s activity center is equipped with a gymnasium and reception hall that can be rented for events. St. Robert’s Catholic School, which will welcome 220 students this fall, has also expanded with a new music room and multimedia centre.
For more information on St. Robert Parish, visit srbcatholic.com.