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.
Hitting the Streets With St. Paul
(00:03) Narrator sets the scene of what a typical St. Paul Street Evangelization outing may look like at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit.
(01:00) Listeners are introduced to Steve Dawson, founder of St. Paul Street Evangelization, a Detroit-based grassroots nonprofit that focuses on evangelization and meeting people where they are — literally.
(03:43) Steve explains how in 2012, he and his wife were noticing a lack of Catholic evangelists in Portland, Ore., where they lived, and wanted to do something about that.
(04:51) The narrator describes those first days of evangelizing in Portland, and the reaction he received evangelizing in what might be the “least religious city in America.”
(06:13) Listeners learn about Steve’s youth. Raised without any religion at all, Steve got in a lot of trouble. He doesn’t even remember how many times he’s been arrested, he said.
(07:44) Steve talks about how his mother re-verted to the Catholic faith, but he wasn’t interested in the Church.
(08:20) Steve describes his conversion to the faith, how God “gave him a supernatural grace to have the desire to search for Him.” That grace led to his desire to share God’s grace with the world.
(11:07) Steve discusses those first evangelization opportunities, handing out Miraculous Medals and having conversations with random people about the faith, and how St. Paul Street Evangelization took off from those simple early conversations to form an apostolate spread across four countries.
(15:02) Listeners are introduced to Bob Wilson, present-day director of St. Paul Street Evangelization, who describes his first evangelization outing at a “Noel Night” in downtown Detroit.
(17:03) Evangelist Carol LaPalm describes how she got involved in street evangelization in Royal Oak. Evangelists rarely get the chance to follow up with the people they encounter with on the streets, the rest left in God’s hands.
(19:59) Donna Spivey describes how she came into the faith because of the witness of St. Paul Street Evangelization. Donna describes how the interaction sparked something in her: a desire to explore the Catholic faith.
(22:32) Donna describes previous experiences that turned her off to the Church, but adds how St. Paul Street Evangelization helped her feel welcome, explaining the faith in a way that is warm, inviting and enticing.
(24:53) Donna says how much St. Paul Street Evangelization changed her life, her family’s life, and what it means to find faith in Jesus and wanting to share Jesus with others.
(25:46) Steve and Bob talk about the great urgency for Catholics to evangelize, with God guiding each and every Catholic to proclaim the Gospel and further the Kingdom of God.
Reporting by Daniel Meloy; narration and production by Ron Pangborn; script by Casey McCorry
Listen to ‘Detroit Stories’ on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Fireside. Podcasts also will be posted biweekly on DetroitCatholic.com.
Mercy In Action at St. Lucy
(00:03): The narrator introduces Mercy in Action Day, where parishes in the six counties of the Archdiocese of Detroit mobilize to perform acts of service.
(01:13) Listeners are introduced to St. Lucy Parish’s particularly robust Christian service ministry. This is due in large part to Donna Belli, the Christian service coordinator at St. Lucy’s, who served the parish for 12 years.
(02:02) Fr. Jim Commyn, pastor of St. Lucy, explains how Donna was the kind of person who needed to be involved, needed to serve.
(03:36) The narrator describes how Donna loved Mercy in Action Day, a celebration and culmination of all the things the parish did in Christian service year-round.
(04:30) Christian service members and Fr. Commyn describe the extent of what Donna had planned for Mercy in Action Day.
(05:27) A description of the expansive service project Donna Belli had planned for St. Lucy’s on Mercy in Action Day -- how Donna had planned for everything, including getting more volunteers, what to do if it started raining, or if the parking lot would have to be used for a funeral. Tragically, the funeral would end up being Donna’s own.
(07:37) A St. Lucy’s Christian service member describes how Donna always went above and beyond, never saying “no.”
(09:33) Donna’s family asked to have the funeral on Mercy in Action Day, but with everyone in the parish wanting to go to the funeral, Fr. Commyn called out to the community to make sure both could happen on the same day.
(10:51) St. Isaac Jogues and Our Lady Star of the Sea parishioners come together to help for Mercy in Action Day at St. Lucy during Donna’s funeral.
(14:32) Fr. Commyn talks about how “mercy in action” described Donna’s approach to life.
(15:58) Parishioners talk about what can happen when parishes work together for a common good.
(17:12) Fr. Commyn speaks to how the wider community effort is an example of what “Families of Parishes” can offer.
(17:59) In a video message from earlier this year, Donna gives a reflection on the week’s reading from a March 2021 Mass, reflecting on God has put her on earth to help others.
The Boys Bowl
(00:02) The narrator begins to introduce Catholic Central’s long standing tradition of The Boys Bowl, noting how it’s much more than just a football game.
(01:49) Part one: the history of The Boys Bowl. Catholic Central’s athletic director, Aaron Babicz, simply describes The Boys Bowl as a tradition and shares about the team’s very first opponent out of Nebraska 77 years ago.
(02:06) The narrator describes in greater detail the history and evolution of The Boys Bowl, noting how it has been firmly established as a tradition promoting comradery, frenzied excitement, and blood-deep devotion to cheering on and supporting the team.
(04:03) Part two: Catholic Central today. The narrator elaborates on how the tradition has evolved into a week-long celebration which culminates Catholic Central’s homecoming and of course, the game. Through this celebration, money is raised for varying charities and the students’ efforts are celebrated as a collective effort.
(05:17) Jack Kirkwood, a senior and the drum major at Catholic Central, shares some examples of the frenzied excitement during this week-long celebration and explains why he considers it the most fun time of the year.
(06:15) Senior center for the team, Jason Sod, gives some of the fun activities that take place during The Boys Bowl week.
(07:08) Athletic director Aaron Babicz asserts how Catholic Central seeks to instill rich tradition and strong brotherhood in its students .
(08:07) Part three: game day. Senior center Jason Sod and Senior quarterback Declan Byle share their excitement for The Boys Bowl returning this year after COVID and how they’re feeling on the long awaited game day. Coach Dan Anderson shares how his pep talks are all about remembering the team as a family and fighting adversity together.
(09:58) The game begins and the narrator gives play-by-plays of different Shamrocks team members. The Shamrocks gain their seventh victory in a row, and Catholic Central goes wild. Coach Dan Anderson gives some feedback on how the players did, and athletic director Aaron Babisz shares his love for celebrating educational, faith-based athletics. The narrator reflects on society’s need to invest in something exciting and light-hearted, and that perfect thing is football.
Visions of a Better Life
John Daraban shares his testimony of being a soul so far gone to the point of extreme hopelessness, led back onto the path of Christ through visions at St. Lawrence, an appearance from the Blessed Mother and Solanus Casey.
(00:10) The narrator gives a preface to the story being shared on the Detroit Stories podcast, accrediting the production and hard work all to John Daraban, who will be sharing his testimony.
(2:02) John describes what his home life and faith life looked like in his early upbringing. From his brother’s diverging interests of the faith to sharing his break up with a high school sweetheart, he walks the listeners through the history of his early years.
(04:29) The narrator tells how John’s brother Rick begins to turn his life around for his son, Cody. Tragically, John gets into a devastating car accident, losing his brother Rick, and begins to cling to destructive coping mechanisms. This leads to the destruction of a mentally, physically and spiritually healthy life.
(06:14) As the drugs began to take over, John’s soul became more and more lost. He began tirelessly searching for something to give meaning to his life, but looking in the wrong places--the bottom of a bottle, or the next high. He quickly began to lose everything, submitting to self-induced homelessness as his addiction habits became more demanding.
(08:09) The narrator introduces an intense spiritual experience John has one freezing night spent homeless. John’s life was spared that night and he had a vision that he was inside of St. Lawerence’s church. Although he had never been there or even knew how to get there, his heart yearned to find a way and live “to be more.”
(10:54) John’s first impactful spiritual experience led him to desire sobriety, struggling to control his addictions in AA for three to five years. He needed something greater to help him overcome these struggles. One night spent at his parents’ home, The Blessed Mother appeared to him saying, “Your mother cannot lose another son.” From that moment, he never touched drugs or alcohol again.
(15: 58) Sober John was doing better, but still was struggling to return to church, until one day, Fr. Solanus Casey appeared to him in a dream saying, “Come find me.” Shortly after, John saw Fr. Solanus, the monk he dreamt of, appeared on TV and decided to venture out to his center in Detroit.
(17:47) The narrator shares that the John that entered the doors of the Fr. Solanus Casey center church for the very first time was seldom seen outside church after. He elaborates on John’s life going forward and how he strives to live his life “All for Jesus.”
Serving God and Country
Dcn. Steve Morello was uniquely positioned to serve the Lord and the American people in the aftermath of the tragedies of September 11th, 2001.
(0:23) Dcn. Steve Morello pondered and prayed about why God had brought him to his job, until one day, six weeks into his tenure as General Counsel for the United States Army, when the answer became very clear.
(1:30) We learn about Dcn. Steve’s background in law and what brought him to his position as the army’s General Counsel.
(4:06) We discover more about what the Chief Legal Officer for the Department of the Army does, and what working in the Pentagon overseeing nearly 5,000 lawyers was like.
(5:50) Dcn. Steve talks about flying to Virginia Beach on September 10th, 2001 for an onboarding seminar — and about his discovery there of the attack on the Pentagon on September 11th.
(7:26) We discover the state of the Pentagon and the landscape to which Dcn. Steve returned on September 12th. He shares about his responsibilities in recovering from the event, both as General Counsel and as a deacon.
(11:44) Dcn. Steve shares his experience celebrating Mass on the side of the Pentagon in the aftermath of the attack, and the profound encounter with the Lord he’d had through the eyes and experiences of the relief workers in attendance.
(13:48) Dcn. Steve reaffirms the life-changing impact that Mass made on his ministry today throughout our archdiocese.
The Frontlines of Mental Health
Throughout a year of immense impact on society’s mental health, Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan has ensured that all those who seek help and care are able to find it.
(0:17) We meet Lisa Elia, a behavioral health therapist at Catholic Charities, who introduces the symptoms of grief and loss that many teens and young adults have exhibited throughout the stretch of the pandemic.
(3:27) We learn more about the state of mental health across the nation before the onset of COVID-19, and how the mental health care providers on the frontlines of the pandemic are struggling to avoid burnout themselves.
(4:21) Lisa discusses the collective trauma people have experienced, with depression and anxiety spiking across all ages and demographics. She stresses the need to examine society in terms of trauma response and to refocus the way we think individually.
(7:24) Jackie Smith, Clinical Director at Catholic Charities, talks about how their team of therapists has ensured that the 30% increase in clients they’ve seen during the pandemic have all been seen and cared for. She talks, too, about the need for new habits and routines to aid stability.
(8:44) Lisa shares her belief that many people have turned back to faith during these difficulties, and emphasizes that the pandemic has changed the way we turn to our own support systems and increase mindfulness in our lives.
(10:40) Lisa and Jackie stress the importance of talking about the losses in order to avoid minimizing our collective and individual experiences. In order to really get through something, they encourage, we have to feel it first.
(12:29) Jackie commends the team of therapists at Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, expressing her gratitude and amazement at this group of professionals who are committed to helping those in need.