Holy Redeemer High School (Detroit)

Holy Redeemer High School (Detroit)

Holy Redeemer High School was a 123 year old Roman Catholic school in Southwest Detroit which was closed by the Diocese of Detroit in 2005. The high school was replaced by the Roman Catholic Detroit Cristo Rey High School in 2008. Holy Redeemer High School was founded in 1882 by the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) sisters with the assistance of the Redemptorist Fathers (CSsR). Holy Redeemer Catholic Parish and grade school both remain open and the high school - until the day it closed - was a founding member of the Archdiocese of Detroit Catholic League for Athletics. Located in Southwest Detroit in a multi-cultural neighborhood, near the Ambassador Bridge to Canada, Holy Redeemer High School was responsible for educating thousands of students since its founding. A bedrock of the Southwest Detroit community, Holy Redeemer prided itself in educating students regardless of faith, ethnic background or ability to pay tuition - as far as Holy Redeemer was concerned - there was no such thing as a "bad kid" - only kids seeking the guidance and love that a school like Holy Redeemer excelled in. Many a student has gone on to live a productive and prosperous - where no such life might have existed - were it not for the committed work of the staff and volunteers at Holy Redeemer. In 2002, the entire Parish grounds were recognized as part of the West Vernor/Junction Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its architecture and historic importance.

At its height of enrollment in 1972, Holy Redeemer's student population number was almost 1,000. The Diocese of Detroit in 1971 closed St. Gabriel, All Saints, Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Vincent High Schools to make Holy Redeemer the regional Catholic High School for southwest Detroit, Ecorse and River Rouge. Later, St. Andrews (late 1980s), St. Hedwigs (mid 1990s) and St. Alphonsus (early 2000s) closed leaving Redeemer the only Catholic school remaining on the far west side of Detroit/East Dearborn.

Although over 90% of all Redeemer graduates went on to secondary (college) education and the enrollment of the school was near 200 students the Diocese closed the high school without any input or discussion from the community at large or the staff of the school. At the time of the school's closing the population was approximately 70% Latino, 20% African-American and 10% Caucasian. The student population was approximately 80% Catholic and the number of students going on to college was approximately 90% of the graduating class. As a small school Redeemer excelled at seveal sports over the years including 2 state basketball championships, an individual state championship runner in cross-country, several state finalists for wrestling and numerous district, regional and league championships in all sports. A coach who rose to national prominence was Bill McCartney, who served as an assistant football coach under his older brother Tom during the 1965 season, and as head basketball coach 1965-1969, taking the team to the Detroit City Championship during the 1968-1969 season. The parish was the centerpiece of the movie, The Rosary Murders, starring Charles Durning and Donald Sutherland, filmed on location during the early 1980s.

Prior to closing of the high school, the Redemptorist Fathers who founded Holy Redeemer parish and school left the parish in about 2000 and the IHM religious sisters closed their expansive 4-story convent a few years after, due to declining numbers of religious members. The Basilian Fathers administered Holy Redeemer High School for approximately five years until the time of its closing.

The Diocese currently operates high schools in more affluent to middle class suburban Detroit communities.

The closing of the school was against the wishes of the Basilian Fathers, students, school administration, faculty and staff and was done so at the mandate of the Archdiocese of Detroit. Other schools closed included: DePorres, St. Catherine Drexel, Notre Dame, St. Clement, East Catholic, Dominican, Bishop Borgess, Bishop Gallagher and a number of grade schools. The Diocese of Detroit which once maintained over 100 high schools throughout the Metro Detroit Region now claims fewer than 15 remaining schools. The majority of students displaced from Holy Redeemer enrolled at St. Frances Cabrini High School in Allen Park, with other students primarily enrolling in Western High School, Southwestern High School and Cesar Chavez High School. The Southwest Detroit community regarded the process used to close Holy Redeemer High School as well as the final decision to close with regret and anger.

Holy Redeemer, as the last remaining founding parish school member of the Detroit Catholic Athletic League, was once considered the premiere school of the Diocese. The colors of Holy Redeemer High School were purple and gold and the mascot was the lion. The address of the High School was 5668 Baker, Detroit, MI 48209 and the campus continues to be located at the corner of Junction and Vernor, where the open grade school remains. A portion of the high school building is currently leased to the group "Covenant House" and is utilized to educate "at risk" children who have prior academic problems, family problems, etc. Thus, the building continues to perform its purpose in providing opportunities to those who need it the most. The older portion of the high school, attached to the gym, is currently houses the newest Catholic high school in Detroit, Detroit Cristo Rey High School, now in its sophomore year. Its mission is to provide excellent college-preparatory Catholic high school education, in the Cristo Rey Network Model, to students from economically disadvantaged families in Detroit. The school emphasizes faith, morals and service to the community. Through its work-study program, the school fosters skills and attitudes important in the workplace, such as responsibility, determination, respect for self and others. In the finest tradition of Catholic outreach, it welcome families of all denominations. With a challenging and supportive college preparatory program, it equips students with the core knowledge and competencies needed for college and the workplace. Its ultimate goal is to enable students to gain the skills to be successful in life and the commitment to make a difference in their families, their neighborhoods, and the world. Detroit Cristo Rey High School is under the sponsorship of the Basilian Fathers and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM).

Holy Redeemer Grade School under the direction of the IHM sisters remains open and continues to carry on the tradition of all the many religious orders (IHM sisters, Redemptorist fathers, Basilian Fathers and many others over time) who have dedicated themselves to the idea of social justice through actions and deeds.

Read more about Holy Redeemer High School (Detroit):  Photo Gallery

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