Rally of Support for St. Matthew Church Detroit

"How awesome is this place: it is the house of God, and the Gate of Heaven; and shall be called the Court of God."  ~Genesis 28

Copper ripped from historic Detroit church, causing $200K in damages


St. Matthew Catholic Church, a long-standing edifice anchoring Detroit's far east side on the corner of Harper and Whittier, was the victim of vandals and thieves on the weekend of October 6th, 2019.

Our beautiful and historic building had her copper downspouts savagely ripped from portions of the main upper structure. Unfortunately, in the process of tearing down these downspouts, extensive damage was done to the ornate French tile roof. Our initial estimates could put damages close to $200,000. The exposed areas of the roof structure now threaten the integrity of the church interior, our original wall paintings, and our historic stained glass windows as we enter the wet season of Michigan fall. 

St. Matthew isn't just home to hundreds of spiritual families, it's the home of our beloved pastor, Father Duane Novelly. Fr. Novelly has been the pastor at St. Matthew Church at Harper and Whittier on Detroit's east side for the last 30 years, celebrating his anniversary (and his 40th anniversary of ordination) just two weeks ago.

As described in the parish's mission statement, St. Matthew is a beacon of light and a sign of hope for hundreds of needy families in the immediate area. We provide financial assistance and household items through our active St. Vincent de Paul chapter. 

Immediate Action Needed
Repairing the roof and replacing the gutters could take months. Right now, though, the immediate concern is to get it sealed before the next rain.

"They don't make churches like this anymore and even the quality of the construction of the church can never be repeated, and it's so unfortunate," said Father Novelly. St. Matthew's current structure was built in 1954, and is home to one of the largest mosaic domes in the United States, crafted along with a large collection of stained glass, by Master Artisan Andrew Maglia, a renowned Detroit artist. 

The church is insured through the Archdiocese of Detroit insurance program. A claims adjuster has just begun the process of assessing damage and analyzing coverages that would be applicable. Insurance aside, the church is burning through funds in a desperate attempt to seal the roof and beef up security until a longer term plan is enacted. The current budget simply cannot sustain these expenses.

Fundraiser Goals
This GoFundMe goal, representing 10% of the estimated damages, has been structured to accomplish the following immediate tasks:

1. Immediately following the vandalism and theft, the church increased surveillance patrol by its contracted security company. For now, the church will be monitored 7 days per week from midnight to 7am. The cost per day is approximately $150.00 ($1,050 per week).  We plan to use $8,400 of the goal to secure 8 weeks of security patrol.

2. The insurance claim, if approved, will be subject to a deductible. We plan to use $2,000 of the goal to cover the estimated insurance deductible and any related insurance incidentals. Monies not used of the $2,000 here will be allocated to increase the budget for Goal #3.

3. We hope to offer Fr. Novelly some piece of mind, and to deter future attempts at vandalism and theft, by the installation of a surveillance video system that would encompass the immediate church footprint (rectory, parking lot, and church proper). We plan to allocate $8,000 of the goal towards this budget.

4. The remaining money, approximately $1,600, would be used to enhance security through other avenues, including the possible removal of large trees that provide cover to thieves, evaluating the possibility of increasing exterior lighting, and upgrades to the church alarm system.

Plea for Assistance
Father Novelly just celebrated his 30th anniversary at St. Matthew, and his 40th anniversary of ordination. He has spent his life in the service of others, and has done an extraordinary job maintaining the church building and grounds, and all on a fiscally responsible level and on a shoestring budget. It simply isn't right that he should have this additional burden to contend with. How great it would be to present him with the fulfillment of this fundraiser to offset these costs and to ensure the repair and containment of these terrible damages. 

Disclosures & Proceed Distribution
This fundraiser is authorized by the St. Matthew Parish Council and pastor, Father Duane Novelly. It is managed and run by parishioner Patrick D. Lusch, former member of the Parish Council. Mr. Lusch maintains our online presence through Facebook and maintains our parish website at www.stmatthewdetroit.com.

All monies contributed will be used for the purposes stated above, and a final accounting will be made available to donors. Please note that the above costs are estimated, and actual costs could be higher or lower. Donors with questions about the use of these funds may contact us directly through the contact methods on our website.

Damage Photos
The photos below are taken from the Fox2Detroit news coverage video of this event. The original story can be found here: https://www.fox2detroit.com/news/copper-ripped-from-historic-detroit-church-causing-200k-in-damages



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  • Michael J. Lusch 
    • $100 
    • 12 mos
  • Sharon Malaspina 
    • $25 
    • 12 mos
  • karen Shook 
    • $100 
    • 12 mos
  • Jane Albrecht Baetens 
    • $50 
    • 12 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 12 mos
See all

Fundraising team (3)

Patrick Daniel 
Raised $290 from 4 donations
Detroit, MI
Rev. Duane R. Novelly 
John Dunstone 
Team member
Raised $300 from 5 donations

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