Thursday, June 07, 2012


As I travel from Detroit to St. Paul, I'd like to take a few minutes to share some photos taken over the past two weeks. I can't think of any overarching theme to tie all of these images together, beyond the fact that each captures a fragment of my experience here. Given that I'm writing from the outskirts of the Motor City, it seems appropriate to start with this photo of a beautiful 1965 Chevrolet Impala, captured in the bright light of a late May evening.

This photo was taken on the idyllic grounds of Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Bloomfield Hills, which has served as my base for the last two weeks. Though I've made retreats at Manresa in the past, I didn't fully appreciate the beauty of the grounds until I came here last month to study the Spiritual Exercises and to direct a couple of retreats. Though I generally prefer not to make my own annual retreat in the environment of a retreat house, Manresa has grown on me enough that, contrary to my usual way of doing things, I actually find myself looking forward to coming back here in the future as a retreatant. To say the very least, grace works in strange and unexpected ways.

I suspect that many readers will be surprised to learn that the above photo was taken in the city of Detroit. The Italianate arches and red-tiled roof seen here may be found on Lansing-Reilly Hall, the Jesuit residence at the University of Detroit Mercy.

This image of Mary, Queen of the Society of Jesus surrounded by Jesuit saints may be found behind the altar in the domestic chapel of Lansing-Reilly Hall.

I found this copy of Adrian Fortescue and J. B. O'Connell's The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described (6th ed., 1937) in a pile of books at Manresa that were being given away for free. Interior markings indicate that this venerable tome spent much of its life at a convent in Detroit; now the book is packed in my luggage, on its way to an eventual new home on my bookshelf.

I came across this piece of text in a leaflet of First Friday devotions. I presume that "Pius XIII" is a typographical error and that this prayer for vocations was not, in fact, written by Lucian Pulvermacher.

On Monday night, some of my Jesuit confreres and I headed to the east side of Detroit to visit the Cadieux Café, a bar/restaurant that is locally famous for what is described in the above photo as its "unique Belgian atmosphere" as well as its status as the only place in the United States where one can play a traditional Flemish game known as trabollen or feather bowling.

True to its roots, the Cadieux Café offers a wide variety of Belgian beers like Westmalle Dubbel, a product of the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle in Flanders.

Our visit to the Cadieux Café coincided with Game 3 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, which the Los Angeles Kings won 4-0 over the New Jersey Devils. Watching the game and subsequent commentary on the CBC reminded me how much I enjoyed being able to watch Canadian television when I lived in Metro Detroit.

Yesterday, we marked the end of our time at Manresa with lunch at Royak Oak's Redcoat Tavern, home to what I have found to be the best burger in Metro Detroit. If you are skeptical of my use of superlatives, take a look at this ranking of Detroit's best burgers compiled by the Detroit Free Press, this Metro Times review and the customer reviews posted on Yelp for a broader range of opinions on this area institution.

This is the Brasserie Burger, which the Redcoat menu claims was rated "Detroit's #1 Gourmet Burger" by the Detroit Free Press. I have not been able to find any independent verification of this claim beyond the general endorsement of the Redcoat's burgers offered by the Freep article linked above, but no matter: in my humble opinion, this burger is as good as they get.

Finally, because I like to photograph such things, here is the sign in the Redcoat parking lot. Somehow, I think that a bit of the unique character of the Redcoat would be lost if this sign were ever to receive a fresh coat of paint - or, for that matter, if the restaurant's dusty, gravel-covered parking lot were to be paved with asphalt or covered with concrete. Some things are better left worn and faded, bumpy and uneven.

I'm not yet sure whether I will have the chance to post while I'm in St. Paul, where I'll be attending the annual gathering of Jesuits from the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Provinces of the Society of Jesus. Today and tomorrow, we will meet to discuss the shared future of our two provinces and to honor the life and ministry of our jubilarians. On Saturday, we will celebrate the ordination to the priesthood of our brothers Bill Blazek and Paul Lickteig. Please pray for Bill and Paul as they prepare for ordination, and please pray for safe travels for all of us. As always, please know of my prayers for all readers. AMDG.


At 7/03/2012 7:30 PM, Blogger Erik Donald France said...

The strangest thing: I was looking up the Pulvermacher family that lived next to my father's family in 1940 in Philadelphia (Larchwood Ave) and came across your image of the Cadieux Cafe, Detroit, where I have spent many a night even though I'm now living in Texas. Strange syncronicity . . .

At 7/04/2012 10:20 AM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

Thanks for that, Erik - yes, it's strange (though fascinating) how the different pieces of one's life can come into unexpected alignment.


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