Welcome to Detroit Stories — a bi-weekly podcast on a mission to boldly share the stories of the people and communities in southeast Michigan.
These are the stories that fascinate us and inspire us — they are the stories that we think everyone should know.
Tune in every other Friday for Detroit-
centric interviews and timely, inspirational topics. Brought to you by Detroit Catholic.
Bravo Motor City
From humble yet musical beginnings through to a career as an international opera singer, Mary Callaghan Lynch is on a mission to bring opera to the students of Detroit.
(0:17) We meet the Callaghan family, huddled around the TV watching Giancarlo Menotti’s opera Amahl and the Night Visitors.
(2:19) We hear about Mary’s successful career as an international opera singer and her opportunity to perform Amahl for the 50th anniversary with the composer himself serving as maestro. We learn how this performance inspired her to form an educational opera company of her own.
(5:10) Mary discusses her unique relationship as friend and voice coach to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.
(7:15) We learn about all that goes into creating an opera experience of the highest quality to be brought to kids in schools, from singers to costumes to sets and beyond.
(10:59) Donna Rhodes, former Superintendent of Redford Schools, addresses the skepticism that some felt toward the initiative, but she affirms the overwhelming positive reception.
(14:00) We hear about the status of arts and music programs in schools today, and how Motor City Lyric Opera works to remedy that, bringing opera to over 70,000 students every year, and the notes and praise they’ve gotten in response.
From mobster to minister, Tom Naemi experienced a profound conversion to Christ from behind bars.
(0:33) Tom Naemi discusses his plan to eliminate his rival’s grocery store — for good.
(2:46) We learn more about Tom’s life growing up in Highland Park, how he started working with the family store, and the beginning of his rivalry with another local grocer.
(6:37) Tom tells us how he fled to Baghdad to avoid arrest, and what awaited him when he eventually decided to come back.
(8:39) Tom learns that being a good Christian might not have been quite as simple as he thought growing up, and he shares a profound encounter with God he had while in prison.
(12:59) We hear about the beginnings of Tom’s ministry and his work to bring the love of Jesus closer to more of his inmates.
(17:15) Vanessa, Tom’s biographer and friend, discusses what makes his story so compelling and the great work he’s done with his faith since leaving prison, including the healing he’s brought to those ailing mentally, physically, and spiritually.
(19:28) Tom reflects on how his life has changed, and how God works at the exact right pace in the exact right ways.
The pandemic changed all our lives. Here’s how it affected those on the frontlines.
(1:40) We look at the pandemic through the lens of FEMA’s shock cycle, which evaluates a community’s response to trauma. We begin with phase one: preparedness.
(2:58) After some testimony from Laura, a woman quarantining alone, we hear from Kelly, an ER nurse on the front lines of treading patients. We then meet Nicole, mother of four who’s helping her kids with remote learning, and her son Sean, and Sam, the general manager at PAO Detroit, a restaurant that opened just before the pandemic hit.
(6:15) We learn about phase two: the impact. Kelly, Nicole, Sam, and Laura discuss when the reality of COVID life set in, the challenges it presented — each person’s challenges and experiences unique — and how they each adapted to this “new normal”.
(16:28) The third phase, disaster management, is exemplified in Sam’s testimony of how PAO helped Detroit and Detroit helped PAO back; Kelly’s story of neighbors and communities rallying around first responders; Laura’s reflection on the new opportunities for connection that came from the crisis; and Nicole’s affirmation that we are all truly rising from the ashes.
(21:33) Phase four: recovery. We reflect on the ways we’ve all lived through the pandemic together and the persistent resilience of Detroit.
Tags/keywords: Detroit Stories, resurget cineribus, coronavirus, pandemic, COVID, Detroit Catholic, Archdiocese of Detroit, rise from the ashes
The Real St. Nick(s)
The story of Michigan’s very own Santa school and how the true spirit of Christmas can change lives.
(00:51) We meet John and learn about the St. Nicholas Institute, Michigan’s very own Santa school.
(2:18) We learn a bit about John’s background, what brought him to the St. Nicholas institute, and what he found when he arrived.
(3:46) After learning a bit more about the kinds of courses offered at the St. Nicholas Institute, John tells us about the personal prayer and reflection time the retreat offers.
(6:11) We meet Fr. Joseph Marquis, of Sacred Heart Byzantine Catholic Church in Livonia. We learn about Fr. Joseph Marquis’s history with Santa and the founding of the institute.
(7:24) Fr. Marquis tells us about his inspiration in forming the institute and the importance of overcoming popular myths about St. Nicholas and getting to know the real, beloved man.
(10:16) Fr. Marquis discusses the N-O-E-L model the institute follows, and gives us some of the saint’s personal history.
(12:00) We learn how the tradition of St. Nicholas’s gift-giving began, and how it’s rooted in the Gospel.
(14:04) Fr. Marquis shares the story of how his particular devotion to St. Nicholas came to be and the impact the saint had on his life at a young age.
(16:39) John tells us about the impact the retreat has had on his ministry as Santa, and the importance of remembering St. Nicholas as a man of faith.
Four Essential Voices
When public Masses were suspended in an effort to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the Schola Cantorum Detroitensis stepped in to provide an essential experience of beauty.
(1:03) We meet Joe Balistreri, Director of Music at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Coordinator of Music Ministries for the Archdiocese of Detroit. He discusses the importance of beauty, its role in evangelization, and its importance during the pandemic.
(5:08) Joe talks about the Archbishop’s desire for the Archdiocese of Detroit to have its own schola cantorum, what a schola cantorum is, how ours came to be, and the kind of music they sing.
(7:25) We meet Schola member Eric Taylor, who is also a music educator and the Director of the Detroit Children’s Choir. He talks about his experience singing at the Cathedral and how the impact of the Schola was so heightened during the pandemic.
(8:34) A clip from Archbishop Vigneron during one of the first livestream Masses, then we hear about the transformation the domestic Church underwent throughout the beginning of the public Mass suspension.
(9:32) Donna Abdoo, a St. Paul on the Lake parishioner, mentions how much the livestream Masses meant to her and her husband and how engrossed they were in the liturgy. Joe tells us the mission of the Schola Cantorum Detroitensis, and the prominent role a Cathedral must have in both sacred and civic matters.
(10:48) We hear from Donna again, as she mentions how inspirational the music was as part of the livestream. She and Joe both mention the unifying power of music, which Eric echoes, discussing how in times of distress, we look toward the positives and hopefulness in the world.
(13:30) We consider that this year, what we needed more than anything was a little bit of hope for humanity. Joe shares what he hopes people took away from the livestreams, and the contemplative experiences of beauty he hopes the Masses brought the faithful.
Rest in Peace, Gordon King
When Tiffany Brocker moved her family to Detroit from the suburbs, she found an unexpected companion in Gordie King, a homeless man by whose corner she frequently traveled. Here’s their story.
(6:28) We hear from Fr. Tim McCabe and the work of the Pope Francis Center as he describes the challenges faced by many of Detroit’s homeless population.
(7:12) Tiffany shares more about her ministry to those experiencing homelessness, and some of the subsequent challenges that come with not having a home.
(10:24) Gordie returns the favor. Tiffany shares about the graces Gordie provided for her in a time of family difficulty.
(12:20) Gordon and Tiffany’s six-year friendship, based on sharing, kindness and prayer, ends with Tiffany organizing Gordon’s funeral.
(19:50) Tiffany encourages others to pray to God for opportunities to help people experiencing homelessness, and to reach out to our friends and neighbors for help and support.