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History of St. Mary's Parish, Lowell Township, Kent County, Michigan
From the Centennial New Edition of the Pioneer Times, 1971.
While it is not known when the first missionary came to Lowell, during the year 1833-1844 the area was visited by the Rev. Frederick Baraga, The Rev. Andreas Vizoiski and other priests of the Grand Rapids, Mission.
After Parnell was established it priest, as well as some from St Andrews served Lowell. Three who came from Parnell were the Rev's H. H. Rivers, P. J. McManus and P. A. Tierney.
In 1878 the Rev. James Savage was assigned to St. Patrick's at Parnell and his pastorate included the mission at Lowell. The present (now gone ) was built in 1879 at a cost of $3,300.00 and had a congregation of 200 members.
Rev. Thomas D. Flannery succeeded Father Savage at Parnell and Lowell was transferred to the priests of St. Andrew's in Grand Rapids. Among those who served Lowell were the Rev's M. J. Gallagher (later Bishop of Detroit), J. A. Mulvey, T.J. Reid, J. Behan, T. J. O'Connell, J. McAllister, T. Albin. The parish was also served by Father Wynne from Maple Valley, the Rev's Charles Bolte and J. B. Illig from Greenville. They were succeeded by the Rev. Henry Simon of St Joseph's Seminary, who remained for five years.
In October 1927 St. Mary's received its first resident pastor, The Rev Robert Bogg. In December a residence formerly owned by John Arehart was purchased and became the rectory.
Father Bogg was succeeded
by the Rev. George Flanagan in 1930, but in January 1930 ill health forced
him to move to a dry climate. In 1931, the Rev. E. J. Jewell became pastor
of St. Mary's. His was a rare situation in that Father Jewell had been
a married Episcopal Priest. After the death of his wife he became a Roman
Catholic priest and his daughter Eleanor stayed with him at the parish
house. He served St. Mary's well until his death in 1943.
Rev. John Grzybowski became the next pastor of Lowell in 1945. In 1950 he was given permission by Francis J. Haas, Bishop of Grand Rapids, to purchase 8 lots on Amity and Elm Streets, which property "it is understood you will not pay more than three thousand dollars for." Father John served St. Mary's until 1952.
Rev. Speer Strahan succeeded Father John as pastor of St. Marys in 1952. He also was an interesting background. He studied at such noteworthy places as Notre Dame, Holy Cross Seminary, Sulpician Seminary in Washington D.C., Catholic University in Washington. He served as an English professor at Catholic University for 14 years. He became an army chaplain in 1939 and retired in 1946. After this he did graduate work at Yale University and at the Sorbonne in Paris. Hen then became Professor of English at Notre Dame from 1946-1949.
Under Father Strahan, the plans that had begun by Father Grzybowski were completed and the parish built its school for $120,000.00. In its first year of operation it had 44 students who were taught by Dominican nuns from Ireland. These were followed by Dominicans from Marywood. On January 24, 1963, St. Mary's paid off the debt on the school, Father Strahan served the parish until his death in 1960.
The Rev. William J. DesLongChamp, a retired priest from the diocese of Saginaw served as administrator for St. Mary's until the coming of Rev. Benedict Marciulionis in 1961.
Rev. Benedict Marciulionis, popularly known as Father Ben, not only was instrumental in paying off the debt on the school but also oversaw the addition of 2 classrooms and an all-purpose room onto the existing structure. With a view to the future need of the parish and in consultation with Messrs. King Doyle, Robert Reagan and Bernard Olson, 10.8 acres of land were purchased. This land is bordered by Amity and Spring St., the C and O Railroad tracks on the west. Father Ben served St. Mary's until December of 1970. In December of 1970, Rev James Thelen was appointed to serve as pastor of St. Mary's.
*Article on Rev. Edward J. Jewell's
death dated October, 1944
BELOVED PRIEST ENTERS INTO REST
Rev. Edward J. Jewell, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church here since 1931, passed away at his home Thursday morning, October 12, 1944. Fr. Jewell would have been 82 years old December 8.
Married and the father of three children, he was a convert to the Catholic faith. After the death of his wife he was ordained to the priesthood, March 19, 1908, at St. Andrews Cathedral in Grand Rapids by the late Bishop Henry J. Richter. He served as assistant at the cathedral in Grand Rapids and later served at parishes at Omer in Arenac County, Ryan in Saginaw County and at Beaver Island before coming to Lowell.
Father Jewell was especially well remembered for his parish work on Beaver Island, where during one winter when the island was smitten by an epidemic, he was doctor and nurse to the sufferers as well as priest.
Father Jewell was a descendant of a pioneer family in Kent County. His grandfather, Ebenezer Jewell, settled in Solon Township in 1857.
Two daughters and a son survive him, Eleanor of Lowell, Mass., Mrs. Paul Schrieber of Farmington, and Lt. Col. Charles D. Jewell of Washington, D.C.
Most Rev. Francis J. Haas, bishop of Grand Rapids, preached the sermon at the funeral mass in St. Mary's Church, Monday morning at 9:30. A solemn requiem mass was sung by Fr. Robert W. Bogg. Burial was in St. Andrews Cemetery, Grand Rapids. Upwards of thirty priests from various parishes in the diocese attended the last rites.
The passing of Rev. Fr. Jewell removes from this community a man of noble character, beloved by all who knew him. His friendly nature, and kindly smile will long be remembered. He was a man of many attainments, and served his church and community with true faithfulness.