Churches Histories

St. Martin de Porres Church


In March of 1962 the Most Reverend Stephen Woznicki, Bishop of Saginaw Diocese, saw the need for a mission church in the southwest section of the Diocese. He asked Fr. Charles Ganley, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Ithaca to undertake this endeavor. First, Fr. Ganley visited each Catholic family in the area and ask them to help spread the word of a new church in the area. After meeting with the local people he appointed committees to proceed with the business of locating a building to serve as a “House for the Lord”. An empty building on Main St. in Middleton, the “Lucas building”, (formally Troub’s Hardware) was rented and “soon to be parishioners” began work acquiring an alter, chairs, and other necessities for our church. Bishop Woznicki requested the first celebration of Mass to occur at least by June of 1962. Fr. Ganley and the Catholic people of the area were very busy March, April, and May preparing our building to meet this deadline.The naming of our mission church was decided upon by Fr, Ganley with the approval of Bishop Woznicki. Fr. Ganley chose Martin de Porres as the patron saint for our mission church, a newly canonized saint in Rome on May 6, 1962.On June 10, 1962 in our “Store Front Church”, we celebrated our first Mass on Pentecost Sunday. The Holy Father, Pope John XXIII sent a special blessing and an estimated 200 people were in attendance. Danny Barrett, son of an early Catholic family (the Norton Barretts), instructed and trained Ronee Zyzelewski and Mark Daniels to be some of the first alter boys. Two babies were baptized at this first Mass. They were Lawrence James Lieby, son of Melvin and Sharon Lieby and Laurie Ann Zelinski, daughter of Robert and Shirley Zelinski. St. Martin de Porres first Mass celebration also coincided with the 10th anniversary of the first Mass at St. Paul’s in Ithaca.Within a month Fr. Ganley appointed the first church committee. A building committee was also appointed and was responsible for locating and securing property for our new church. A parcel of land was located at the northwest corner of M-57 and Luce Road. In 1963 St. Martin purchased this three acre parcel to build our new house of worship.Fr. Ganley immediately began the task of fundraising money for the new church. His unique plan to raise money was for us to send letters to family, friends, and acquaintances asking for a donation. Father was very convincing and the letter drive was very successful. Almost all the money needed to build the church was raised through generous contributions of the parishioners and the letter drive.

Formal ground breaking for St. Martin de Porres mission church was July 14, 1963 and the $67,000 Church was raised the week of Jan. 12, 1964. Our first Mass was celebrated by FR. Ganley on March 15, 1964. Terry Lee and Gary Dee Blair, twin sons of Bert and Rosalie Blair, were the first to be baptized in the new church. The first wedding celebrated was that of Fred Kirby and Dorothy Mazey.

Through the years our humble church has grown strong in faith and community. We are grateful for the leadership, guidance, and caring faith our priests, administrators and parishioners have shown us and our community.

Special thanks to our past priests and administrators.

Fr. Charles Ganley, Fr, Donald Eppenbrock, Fr. Joseph Frisky, Fr. Fr. John Hoogterp, Fr. Max Frego, Fr. John Ederer, Fr. Harry Sikorski, Fr. Julius Spleet

Sister Phyllis, Sister Ginny, Sister Margo, Carol Hale

Thank you for celebrating in the year 2012, the 50th anniversary of our Mission Church, St. Martin de Porres.


St. Paul The Apostle Church

St. Paul’s origins date back to mid-1900s. On Penticost Sunday, June 1, 1952 more than200 people attended the first Mass at the newly organized Catholic mission church of St. Paul the Apostle in downtown Ithaca, Father Paul E. Foster greeted everyone as the 9 a.m. Sunday morning service     began. The Catholic Church of St. Paul the Apostle became a reality.      That first Mass was offered in a vacated auto dealership building on Pine River Street. Prior to that time, Catholics in the area traveled to Alma, St. Louis or Bannister. But, now they had their own parish…albeit without a proper church building.

Colonial St. Paul

St. Paul-the first church.

      It didn’t take long, however, for the younger parish to raise funds to build a church. In September of 1952, Father Charles L. Ganley replaced Father Foster and a year later in May of 1953 ground was broken for a new colonial-style church (Shown Right) to be built on the corner of Emerson and Union streets.On Sunday, Nov. 8, 1953, Father Ganley sang the first Latin High Mass in the almost completed church, preceded by a blessing of the interior. However, formal dedication ceremonies were held June 29, 1954. Bishop Woznicki celebrated the Mass, Speaking in both Latin and Polish. It was a glorious day for all those who had worked so hard to see that a proper church was built in Ithaca. The church featured 10 stained glass windows, a choir loft, and a basement meeting hall, It was in 1964 that new liturgical rules were implemented governing the Mass being celebrated in English versus Latin, having the congregation and not just the choir participate during Mass, having other musical instruments besides the organ played during Mass, and new rules for fasting and abstinence. These changes evolved out of the Second Vatican Council and were implemented world-wide throughout all Catholic churches. In the 1960s the small Ithica parish grew–grew so much that it outgrew its new building. It also needed religious education classrooms and a parish hall. Occasional downpours tended to flood the basement which was used as a community hall for the church. Functions scheduled for the basement often had to be postponed or crews with mops and buckets had to swiftly clean up the water before the functions could be held.       On Sep, 14, 1969, the present church was dedicated by Most Rev. Bishop Francis F. Reh, the then newly installed Bishop of the Diocese of Saginaw. The church features hand made Facet Glass windows above the alter, hand-crafted by a Midland artist and donated by the Dionise family.

Other “firsts” for the church include:

November 8, 1960

The first Saturday evening Mass

November of 1973

The first bingo games in the former hall. (Bingo ended in 1981)
1977 Catholics begin receiving Communion in the hand.
1978 First Lay Ministers of the Eucharist appointed: Theresa Lewanski, Robert Morris, Roger Pamment and John Raducha.
1979 First guitar Mass.
May 8, 1983 Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for a church activity center to be attached to the church.
July 26, 1983 Father Max J. Frego was appointed pastor of St. Paul’s and Father John Hoogterp took over St. Cyril’s Parish in Bannister.
May 20, 1984 An open house was held for the new education/activity center. Cost of the new building was $240.000.
1982 A special Mass in honor of marriage and family was held. Many couples made Marriage Encounter weekends during the 1970s and 1980s.
1983 RENEW program featuring fellowship and Bible study began.
October 15, 1984 Charter members of the St. Paul’s chapter of the Knights of Columbus formed.
1985 Former colonial-style church building was removed from the church property.
1986 The Great Flood poured 24 inches of rain down on Ithaca within a 30-day period. The rectory had about four feet of water floating in the lower level. Many church records as well as many of Father Frego’s personal articals were lost.
1900 “Companions on the journey program begins.
August 16, 1992 Father Harry Sikorski is formally installed.
1993 Female alter servers are introduced as well as receiving Communion from the cup.
January of 1994 Father Harry resigns and returns to Brazil. Father Ed Nemeth fills in until Father John A. Ederer was installed on August 7 by Bishop Kenneth Untener.
January of 1997 The memorial monument of the “Unborn Child” is donated by the Knights of Columbus.
1997 Steve and Carla Smith donated their house located just west of the church to serve as a new church rectory.
2000 Father Julius Spleet and Sister Phyllis Ohren (the parish’s first Pastoral Administrator) are assigned to St. Paul’s. Tragically, she died in an auto accident in June of 2000.
September –  November 2000 Sister Virginia Schally took over duties as interim Pastoral Administrator.
June 15, 2001 Sister Margo Tafoya is appointed Pastoral Adminstrator and the parish feels fortunate to have a stationary leader again.
   Carol Hale is appointed Parish Administrator

“Parish priests to date”

  Fr. Paul Foster
  Fr. Charles Ganley:      May of 1957 to June 1966
  Fr. Donald Eppenbrock:      June of 1966 to July of 1970
  Fr. Joseph Friske:      October of 1970 to January of 1976
  Fr. John Hoogterp:      March of 1965 to July 1983
  Fr. Max Frego:     July of 1983 to July of 1992
  Fr. Harry Sikorski:     June of 1992 to June of 1994
  Fr. John Ederer:     August of 1994 to October of 1998
  Fr. Julius Spleet:     October of 1998 to January of 2014
  Fr. Andrzej Boroch:     Present priest.
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