46 episodes

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.

Detroit Stories Detroit Catholic

    • News
    • 5.0 • 9 Ratings

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.

    Faith and the Cosmos

    Faith and the Cosmos

    Detroit native Bro. Guy Consolmagno, SJ, director of the Vatican Observatory, gazes at the stars and finds God gazing back.


    (0:03) Jesuit Bro. Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory and a Detroit native, describes growing up during the height of the 1950s space race.


    (2:42) As a student at University of Detroit Jesuit High School, Bro. Guy describes how his Catholic education and upbringing influenced his decision to go into astronomy, and opened his mind to the wonders of the universe and God’s creation.


    (5:01) Ten years after he graduated with a Ph.D. from MIT, Bro. Guy began to question the “big things” in life. As a graduate of a Jesuit high school, one question nagged him more than any others: “Why am I doing astronomy when there are starving people in the world?” This realization led him to join the Peace Corps, and eventually the Jesuits — where he learned he combine his life’s two great loves: science and faith.


    (7:33) Not long after professing his vows, Bro. Guy was given an assignment he never expected: to live and work at the Vatican Observatory in Rome, studying meteorites and leading the pope’s outreach to astronomers worldwide. Bro. Guy describes the history and purpose of the Vatican Observatory, which traces its roots to the 19th century, when the Church was fighting rumors that it was “anti-science.” In an effort to show the world that wasn’t true, Pope Leo III established the observatory and commissioned professional astronomers to research the cosmos.


    (11:29) Today, Bro. Guy’s role involves working to build bridges between the scientific and faith communities, two groups that may seem to be at war, but who actually have a lot in common, Bro. Guy says.


    (13:26) Bro. Guy debunks the myth of the “God of the gaps,” the idea proposed by new atheists that given enough time, science will uncover all of life’s secrets, and God’s existence will be disproven.


    (15:46) Instead of a cold, distant God, Christians believe in a God of love — a God who cares enough to die on the cross, to forgive sins, and to give his children the wonders of the universe to explore in harmony with faith and reason, Bro. Guy says.


    Reporting and narration by Michael Stechschulte; script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn


    This episode is brought to you by Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services. Pre-planning is a gift of love for your family. To start this important end-of-life conversation, visit cfcsdetroit.org.


    Listen to ‘Detroit Stories’ on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Fireside. Podcasts also will be posted biweekly on DetroitCatholic.com.

    • 18 min
    Bearded Blevins Streams His Faith

    Bearded Blevins Streams His Faith

    Jonathan Blevins tried video game streaming at his internet star brother's suggestion; now, he evangelizes with it


    0:02: Jonathan Blevins, a video game streamer on the popular gaming site Twitch, engages in a discussion about faith with his followers. It’s an unlikely place for such a discussion, but Blevins, a lifelong Catholic with thousands of followers, sees this as his unique mission field.


    1:40: Blevins, CEO of Little Flower Media Company, talks about his background growing up in a Catholic family in Metro Detroit. While he and his two brothers played video games, it was considered a special treat — not something to do every day. He remembers playing Mario and Pokémon, and games like Halo and Call of Duty when he was older.


    4:02: As Jonathan grew up, video games took a back seat, and he became more serious about his faith. He studied theology and began to work in his parish as a youth minister. However, in 2017, when the mega-popular video game Fortnite was released, Jonathan’s curiosity got the better of him.


    5:25: Meanwhile, Jonathan’s younger brother, Tyler — better known by his screenname, “Ninja” — was quickly becoming an internet mega-star in his own right, streaming video games on a lesser-known platform called Twitch. Today, Tyler is the most popular streamer in the world, with more than 18 million followers. At Tyler’s suggestion, Jonathan decided to try streaming for himself.


    7:01: A youth minister by day and Twitch-streaming Fortnite player by dusk, Jonathan’s audience steadily began to grow. Quickly, he realized that his streams didn’t have to just be about video games. Always himself, Jonathan began chatting with his followers about the things that were important to him — football, bourbon, popular culture and his Catholic faith.


    8:07: Finding success in his newfound niche, Jonathan decided to try streaming full time, and turned his hobby into a business, the Little Flower Media Company. Through 30-40 hours per week streaming, three podcasts, two talk shows and more media efforts in the works, he’s developed a community of tens of thousands of followers who engage with him daily online.


    10:08: Jonathan’s refusal to put his Catholic faith to the side has meant plenty of difficult conversations with strangers online. He discusses the similarities between youth ministry and streaming — starting with the need to calmly and lovingly talk about controversial subjects — especially as they relate to God and the Church.


    11:12: Jonathan recalls one stream in particular, on the day of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, in which he engaged with a follower who was particularly angry and vitriolic. Another time, he recalled engaging with a fellow streamer whose vulgarity led to a moment of honest self-reflection. In both cases, Jonathan says, it was important to recognize the God-given humanity behind the internet wall.


    15:03: Despite the torrent of filth that can exist online, Jonathan believes in the power of love to reach the darkest places. Always the optimist, it’s his characteristic sign-off tagline that reverberates after every stream: “I love you; God loves you. Let’s change the world,” he says.


    Reporting by Gabriella Patti; narration by Emily Mentock; script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn


    This episode is brought to you by Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services. Pre-planning is a gift of love for your family. To start this important end-of-life conversation, visit cfcsdetroit.org.


    Listen to ‘Detroit Stories’ on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Fireside. Podcasts also will be posted biweekly on DetroitCatholic.com.

    • 16 min
    When 'Father' Is Also 'Son'

    When 'Father' Is Also 'Son'

    Parents of Archdiocese of Detroit priests talk about the joys, challenges and blessings of raising a member of the clergy


    (0:04) The narrator talks about Catholics’ perspectives about their priests, who can take on a larger-than-life persona and at times seem almost superhuman with everything they take on — caring for their parishes, being a spiritual refuge for their flock, and providing God’s people with the sacraments. But priests also have parents, who take a very different view.


    (0:50) Mark and Susan Tibai, parents of Fr. Mark Tibai of St. Fabian Parish in Farmington Hills, talk about what it’s like when their son comes home for the holidays. Gail Lajiness, the mother of Msgr. Todd Lajiness of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth, and Amy Roelant, the mother of Fr. Kevin Roelant of St. Thecla Parish in Clinton Township, add their perspectives.


    (2:29) Ann Heenan, the mother of Fr. Grayson Heenan of St. Andrew Parish in Rochester, talks about the reaction she gets from other parishioners when they learn she raised a priest — a mix of awe, curiosity and adulation.


    (4:17) The Roelants discuss how they knew Fr. Kevin had a calling to the priesthood since he was little. Gail Lajiness says her son’s vocation was an answer to prayer.


    (6:40) Not all parents were as sure of their son’s calling. The decision of their son to enter the seminary came as a shock to Fr. Heenan’s parents, who had dreamt of grandchildren. There was a period of sadness when they realized that wouldn’t happen, but Fr. Heenan’s priesthood has been a blessing in its own way, they say.


    (9:50) The Tibais had a feeling their son would enter the seminary, but that didn’t make it any easier when the rural country family had to drop him off in the middle of Detroit, where Sacred Heart Major Seminary resides.


    (11:19) Amy Roelant discusses the unspoken bond parents of priests share with one another. At Fr. Kevin’s ordination, she recalls sharing a moment with the mother of another priest, who became emotional at the sight of her son’s “wedding day.”


    (13:33) Parents share the blessings that come from their sons’ vocations, including Masses celebrated at home, pride in watching their child lead a family of faith, and joy in watching others’ lives changed because of their son’s ministry.


    (15:16) Even though the life of a priest is busy, they all stress, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have time for family. They discuss sharing their son during the holidays and weekends, but say that makes the time spent visiting even more special.


    (16:16) Parents talk about the spiritual benefits to their own lives that have come from their sons’ vocations.


    (18:50) Fr. Tibai’s parents give advice to other parents whose sons are considering a vocation. With a priest shortage in the Archdiocese of Detroit, it’s imperative that families are supportive of their sons, they say, praying for God’s will and trusting in the Holy Spirit, which ultimately leads to happiness and fulfillment.


    Reporting by Daniel Meloy; narration by Leah Butalid; script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn


    This episode is brought to you by Angela Hospice, helping families provide the best care possible for the people they love. Visit us at AskForAngela.com
    Listen to ‘Detroit Stories’ on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Fireside. Podcasts also will be posted biweekly on DetroitCatholic.com.

    • 21 min
    Hope of a Generation

    Hope of a Generation

    When a local teenager noticed his peers weren't returning to Mass after the pandemic, he took matters into his own hands.


    (0:02) In early 2021, as Catholics slowly began returning to church after the COVID-19 pandemic, 16-year-old AJ Schena made a startling discovery: Not many people his age were in the pews. Statistics backed up Schena’s observation — 34% of Generation Z reports being “religiously unaffiliated” — a number that has grown since the pandemic. Determined to do something, Schena brainstormed ways to entice his peers back to Mass.


    (1:47) Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron’s pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel, emphasizes the need to urge young people to exercise leadership in the Church, to take their rightful place as heirs to the Catholic faith. Schena took those words to heart.


    (2:53) Kristy Schena, AJ’s mother, describes the fire lit under her son as he discerned what he could do. AJ proposed a series of Masses, to be held at the mother church of the Archdiocese of Detroit, that would pull in teens from across southeast Michigan.


    (4:36) AJ took the idea to Fr. J.J. Mech, rector of the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, who loved the idea. Together, they made a plan for a Summer Teen Mass Series catering to young people. The Masses would be followed by themed gatherings: Hawaiian, Christmas in July, and Detroit Sports.


    (6:11) A mild-mannered teenager, AJ describes the challenge of being thrust into a leadership position and navigating the logistics of putting together the Mass series. He recruited his sister, Audrey, his friends, and anyone who would help.


    (7:35) Kristy Schena describes the impact of the project. Teens attended from all over the archdiocese, many bringing their parents. The Schenas talk about the gratitude they received from those who didn’t want the Mass series to end.


    (8:48) As AJ graduated from high school and headed off to college, he handed the reins of organizing the Mass series to his sister, Audrey, who organized another series in the summer of 2022. Audrey describes the following summer, including a new theme focused on the saints: “Superheroes.”


    (10:26) The Schenas describe the most powerful part of the Mass series: teens realizing that despite the drop-off in church participation, young people are not alone in their faith. AJ encourages other young people who are discouraged to step outside their comfort zones and make a difference.


    Reporting and script by Casey McCorry; narration by Emily Mentock; production by Ron Pangborn


    This episode is brought to you by Angela Hospice, helping families provide the best care possible for the people they love. Visit us at AskForAngela.com.


    Listen to ‘Detroit Stories’ on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Fireside. Podcasts also will be posted biweekly on DetroitCatholic.com.

    • 14 min
    St. Alexander Still Cares

    St. Alexander Still Cares

    When St. Alexander Parish in Farmington Hills closed in 2014, a former parishioner resolved to carry on its legacy of service.


    Show notes:
    (0:01) Todd Lipa describes growing up at St. Alexander Parish in Farmington Hills. It’s where his large family was baptized, and where his mother was buried in 1968. The parish, led by Fr. Jim Wright, was also a lifeline when the Lipa family fell on hard times, providing food, clothing and a caring support system.


    (2:01) When St. Alexander closed in 2014, Lipa realized he was in a perfect position to carry on the parish’s legacy of service. As director of Farmington and Farmington Hills’ Youth and Family Services, Lipa was well-acquainted with the needs of the community.


    (4:22) Despite its reputation as an affluent community, Lipa says poverty does exist in the Farmington Hills area. Together with Mayor Ken Massey and former Mayor Jerry Ellis, Lipa set out creating a new nonprofit, CARES — an acronym that stands for Community Action Resources Empowerment Services.


    (5:21) On July 1, 2017, the 501(c)3 purchased the former St. Alexander church for its headquarters, and began expanding its services to include groceries, hygiene and household items in a supermarket-style service center, complete with community support services such as AA and outreach coordinators to help guests secure health care, transportation and other needs. Lipa describes the incredible support CARES has received from the community, including local business owners who have donated services.


    (8:36) Recalling his own experience growing up in need, Lipa talks about the satisfaction he receives seeing how CARES restores the dignity of those in poverty.


    (10:16) Lillian, a CARES client and an immigrant from Nigeria, talks about the help she’s received from CARES. In a new country without any support system, Lillian says the nonprofits volunteers “took us in like family. Taiwan, a single mother of two, discovered cares when she moved with her children to Farmington Hills. She describes her experience with gratitude. “I really, really love CARES,” she says.


    (13:45) CARES volunteers Carol and Michelle say Fr. Wright would be proud of how the nonprofit has carried on the mission of St. Alexander in caring for the community.


    (14:20) Lipa talks about his vision to expand CARES by partnering with neighborhood health care providers, as well as renovating seven acres of land into a baseball diamond “that anyone, no matter your ability, can play on.” Lipa marvels at how far CARES has come in just five short years, and expresses hope that like St. Alexander Parish, it can continue to be a beacon of Christ’s love for all those in need.


    Reporting by Gabriella Patti; narration and script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn


    This episode is brought to you by the PIME Missionaries - Catholic priests and brothers, evangelizing in 19 countries around the world and celebrating 75 years of service in Detroit. Visit pimeusa.org to learn more.


    Listen to ‘Detroit Stories’ on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Fireside. Podcasts also will be posted biweekly on DetroitCatholic.com.

    • 17 min
    Surviving an Eating Disorder

    Surviving an Eating Disorder

    How a 19-year-old college student defeated anorexia with the help of her family, doctors — and a renewed relationship with God.


    (0:07) The narrator introduces Maureen Cole, a spirited 19-year-old student at Hope College and an avid dancer. Usually sunny, Maureen’s positivity disappeared as she fell into habits that led to an eating disorder, at first unbeknownst to her parents. Marlise Cole, Maureen’s mom, explains what she witnessed.


    (3:00) Maureen Cole describes the conditions that led to her anorexia, starting with the pandemic in 2020. A straight-A student, Maureen describes her reticence to switch to remote learning and dance via Zoom. As the pandemic wore on, she transformed her basement into a full home dance studio, and exercise slowly became an obsession.


    (7:00) Over Christmas break her senior year of high school, Maureen had a routine physical with her doctor, who told her she had lost 10 pounds. Others seemed to notice she looked fitter, and she liked the attention.


    (8:23) Slowly, her eating habits changed. She cut sweets and carbs, and began to become obsessed with her diet. She cut condiments, then red meat, then dairy. Eventually — and to Maureen’s credit — she realized she might have an eating disorder, but didn’t want to tell anyone. Her personality faded, and eventually, others began to take notice.


    (11:03) Maureen’s dance teacher called her parents, who began to panic at the realization of what their daughter was facing. Maureen’s body began to show frightening signs of an eating disorder. She started to work with a dietician and physician.


    (13:40) During fall break her first semester in college, Maureen visited the doctor for a check-up, but she hadn’t gained any weight. Her heart rate was frighteningly low, and she realized — finally — that if nothing changed, she was slowly dying.


    (14:14) Realizing the gravity of the situation, Maureen finally committed to battling her anorexia. Her parents pulled her from dance, and found her a doctor specializing in eating disorders. She began a University of Michigan-sponsored program, Maudsley, to fight her disease.


    (16:38) Maureen describes the role of faith in her recovery. The realization that God was calling her to great things — not an eating disorder — was crucial, she says. Slowly, she began to see progress.


    (18:21) As things improved, Maureen’s relationship with God did also. Her personality began to return, and she started to develop healthier relationships with food.


    (20:04) Today, Maureen continues her recovery, but she’s back in school at Hope and dancing again. Maureen’s mom, Marlise, describes Maureen’s newly rediscovered relationship with God. Maureen describes the courage her journey took, and how she continues to battle — all with God’s help.
    _
    Reporting and narration by Michael Stechschulte; script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn


    (Editor’s note: Some material provided by Marlise Cole)_


    _This episode is brought to you by the PIME Missionaries - Catholic priests and brothers, evangelizing in 19 countries around the world and celebrating 75 years of service in Detroit. Visit [pimeusa.org](www.pimeusa.org) to learn more.


    Listen to ‘Detroit Stories’ on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Fireside. Podcasts also will be posted biweekly on DetroitCatholic.com._

    • 23 min

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