A church rises from the ashes: Latin Mass returns to church abandoned by diocese in 1980s
Traditional Catholics from across the state, including some from Cheboygan who attended and were married at St. Charles before it closed, responded to the reopening of the church with much celebration.
Fri Jul 30, 2021 – 1:50 pm EDT
CHEBOYGAN, Michigan, July 30, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — In the 17th century, French Jesuit priests like Fr. Jacques Marquette arrived in Northern Michigan and converted thousands of Native Americans to the Catholic faith. Today, towns across the region have historical markers and monuments erected in his honor.
Much like the wider Church, a crisis of faith shook the Catholic community in Northern Michigan following the Second Vatican Council. Eventually, the Diocese of Gaylord was forced to close several churches, including St. Charles Borromeo, one of the largest in the area, in the 1980s.
St. Charles, which was built in the early part of the 1900s, was eventually sold to a group of Protestants. Decades of neglect finally caught up with the building. By the mid-2000s, it had become practically unusable due to water damage and structural issues.
Bill Price, a former Marine, saw the church was listed for sale in the 2010s after he and his wife, who grew up in Cheboygan, were visiting the town. Price told LifeSite he was “inspired” to purchase the property because of what it represented to the area.
In 2019, Price purchased the dilapidated church, which can hold upwards of 500 people, for $25,000, eventually taking out a mortgage on it. Since then, he’s been essentially single-handedly restoring it to its former glory. A small group of volunteers have helped install air conditioning and other amenities.
In recent years, Price has done extensive work patching up holes in the roof to prevent further water damage. He’s also built the base of the altar, fixed the windows, and installed donated altar rails.
While financial support has generally been sparse, Price told LifeSite he’s received several donations higher than a thousand dollars, which he immediately put back into the building. There is currently a GoFundMe site to help Price pay for the restoration. (Click here if you would like to help restore St. Charles to its former glory.)
Although there remains much work to be done, including the installation of new floors and bell towers, Price announced the grand re-opening of St. Charles on Sunday, July 11. Traditional Catholics from across the state, including some from Cheboygan who attended and were married at St. Charles before it closed, responded to the announcement with much celebration.