About our Parish
St. Hugo of the Hills came into being as a parish through the very active effort of two lay people – Theodore F. and Alice MacManus. From that day to this, the extraordinary involvement of the laity has been and is St. Hugo’s great strength.
It had long been the fond hope of Mr. and Mrs. MacManus to have a church in this area since there was none between here and Birmingham to the south and Pontiac to the north. The MacManus family resided at Stonycroft, which comprised considerable acreage, part of which is now the site of St. Hugo of the Hills. In short, they had the land, the idea and the will to do it. Together, Mr. and Mrs. MacManus were not only our sponsors but also our benefactors, bringing part of the reality that is ours today to fruition.
In 1931, Fr. William W. Ryan, then pastor of Holy Name, Birmingham, was appointed to St. Hugo as its first pastor by Bishop Michael J. Gallagher. Eager to establish the new parish, Fr. Ryan purchased property north of the Stonycroft site and built a small frame building to serve as a chapel and rectory prior to the construction of the church.
After Fr. Ryan’s death, Fr. Daniel J. Wholihan became pastor serving until 1946. The original rectory was adjacent to the chapel. During Fr. Wholihan’s pastorate, the present rectory was built in 1941. It was a gift of the Frank J. Couzens family. The first unit of the school was completed in 1940 thanks to the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Walter O. Briggs. The St. Hugo convent was then housed in the wing adjacent to the chapel. As the result of several gifts of property from Mr. William Van Dyke in 1942-43 and the subsequent purchase of two remaining tracts, St. Hugo parish now owns all the land between its two widely separated complexes of buildings.
Fr. Francis T. Stack succeeded Fr. Wholihan upon the latter’s death and served as pastor until 1963. He continued the sorely needed expansion in the school and chapel. With the death of Fr. Stack, Msgr. Edmund Fournier was named pastor. He made a number of improvements in his two-year term as pastor including the office wing attached to the present rectory. Msgr. Fournier took a new assignment in November of 1965 and was replaced by Fr. Clement J. Esper.
In 1967, the current St. Hugo convent was completed, and St. Hugo School reached its present form with the library and art, science and regular classroom additions of 1968. The school was staffed by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Michigan. On July 2, 1985, Fr. Esper retired after twenty years of devoted service and was replaced as pastor by Rev. Msgr. Anthony M. Tocco who currently serves in that position.
In addition to the devoted laity, the above-named pastors were aided from 1936 onward by a number of associate pastors. In chronological order, they were Fr. Bernard Regan, Fr. Joseph A. Canaan, Fr. John L. Howard, Fr. Arthur Childs, Fr. James Murphy, Fr. Arthur Fauser, Fr. Gerald Flanigan, Fr. Paul Bigley, Fr. Richard J. Cassidy, Fr. Arnold R. Bastien, Fr. James Cichon, Fr. Michael S. Filip, Fr. John A. Slater, Fr. James M. Sam, Fr. Lawrence Delonnay, Fr. Ronald J. Essman, Fr. Nicholas Zukowski, Fr. Jack H. Baker, Fr. James D. Bilot, Fr. Robert Schuster, Fr. James R. Rafferty, Fr. Ronald S. Richards, Fr. Charles D. Fox, Fr. Michael Wilkes, Fr. David Cybulski and Fr. Eric Fedewa. Fr. Tim Wezner currently serves as Associate Pastor. Also serving our parish are Fr. Joseph Szewczyk, Senior Pastor; Fr. George Hazler IVDei and Fr. Joe Grimaldi, Senior Priests; and Fr. Mark Wendling, SOLT. Each associate is a unique member of our parish family adding to its total strength by his individual talents and devoted service.
Since 1999, the parish has employed a pastoral associate who shares with the pastor and priests in the overall care of the parish. The Pastoral Associate is a full-time member of the parish staff and is accountable to the pastor. The current Pastoral Associate is Sr. Barbara Rund OP, who is certified by the Archdiocese of Detroit and the United States Catholic Conference as a Lay Ecclesial Minister. Mrs. Betty Jannott was the first Pastoral Associate.
After an extensive study during 1986 by the Forward Planning Committee, and on recommendation of the Stewardship Commission, the Parish Pastoral Council approved a plan for construction of a new church/parish complex that included administrative offices, meeting rooms, bride room/child center and multiuse social hall with kitchen. Fundraising began in early 1987 with over 300 parishioners volunteering to contact all members of the parish community for the necessary funds.
A Building Committee of representative members of the parish was formed to develop the construction program. Five members were later chosen from this group to join with the pastor, construction manager and the architectural team in a design committee to continue the decision-making throughout the construction process. This committee will continue as the Art Review Committee to provide direction and guidance for future acquisitions for the complex.
The design for the new church was determined by the strength and simplicity of the original stonechapel. The architectural firm of Harley Ellington Pierce Yee and Associates began their design work vowing not to overshadow but to honor the “jewel” we already had on our property. The new church incorporates much of the old by using many of the same building materials, most especially the stone taken from the very same quarry in Wisconsin. It was hand cut or “puffed” by skilled stonecutters.
On Sunday, April 16, 1989, the church was dedicated with Edmund Cardinal Szoka officiating. This opened a year of celebration commemorating our coming together as one community in this new facility.
St Hugo of the Hills Basic Parish Facts - Main Church
Ground-Breaking: March 17th, 1988
Dedication of church: April 16, 1989
Architects: Harley Ellington Pierce Yee & Associates, Southfield, MI
Design Architect: Gary Skog
Contractor/Construction Manager: Robert Storen & Associates, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Liturgical Designer/Consultant: Robert Rambusch & Associates, New York, NY
Organ Builders: Franz Zimmer & Sons, Charlotte, NC
The Processional Cross fits inside the Majestic Cross, and both are fashioned of bronze, copper, anodized aluminum and polished steel.
Baptismal Font and Baptismal Canopy
The font allows for either baptism by immersion or submersion. The font is made of polished granite and cut limestone and was designed by Robert Rambusch and Associates, as were all of the other liturgical appointments within the church. The symbols found in the canopy over the font are all drawn from the various references made to water in the Bible: the water jugs from the story of the wedding feast at Cana; the wheel of the pharaoh’s chariot being swept away by the Red Sea; Noah’s ark and the dove returning with the olive branch in its beak; Jonah and the whale; the rock struck by Moses in the desert which yielded flowing water; and, facing the altar, the Holy Spirit, represented by a dove, who comes to us first through the sacrament of Baptism.
Stations of the Cross
Created by local artist Suzanne Young, the Stations of the Cross are grouped in a collage fashion and are made of unglazed porcelain.
The ambo (lectern), chair and altar are of the same polished granite and cut limestone seen throughout the church.
Holy Family Sculpture
Created by Suzanne Young, the work is of unglazed porcelain and was commissioned specifically for the new church.
Three hand-carved wooden plaques, suspended from the north wall of the gathering space, are a portion of a Memorial Wall which lists the names of all contributors to the building of the new church complex. On the left is the seal of Pope John Paul II. To the right is the seal of Edmund Cardinal Szoka. Centered is the seal representing the patron saint of the parish, St. Hugo, Abbott of Cluny. Designed by Robert Rambusch, liturgical architect for the new church, it depicts the medieval monastery at Cluny, France, while the hills in the foreground evoke a sense of the “hills” in Bloomfield Hills.
Tabernacle-Stained Glass Window
The large “Tree of Life” stained glass artwork was donated and commissioned by the Jim and Betty Graham family. Celebrated Michigan stained-glass artist Margaret Cavanaugh created this depiction of a spiritual tree with fruit on the branches. The fruit, which are individual blownglass pieces, represent our individual human souls as they ascend to Heaven upon death. The colors intensify as they rise closer to the sky, and the beauty of this prominent stained glass artwork serves to enhance and beautify the sacred tabernacle space within the church sanctuary.
“Christ and the Children” Sculpture
Created by Marshall M. Fredericks, this sculpture is a blessing in the gallery courtyard. The sculpture and garden area were a gift to St. Hugo’s by Wilda and Kenneth Tiffany in November 1989.
The organ is considered the traditional instrument that leads the faithful in song and provides majestic splendor to the rites of the church. St. Hugo’s is fortunate to have two excellent pipe organs in its worship spaces. The chapel organ was built in 1935 by the Casavant Freres firm of St. Hyacinthe, Quebec. It consists of 24 ranks of pipes, with the main organ in the balcony, and a small echo organ above and to the left of the crucifix. The organ in the church was originally built in 1989 by W. Zimmer and Sons, consisting of 59 ranks of pipes divided over four manuals and pedals. In 2005, major revisions were made by Cornel Zimmer, including a new console, the replacement of several pipe ranks and the addition of a number of digital
voices, resulting in an extremely complete instrument. The façade’s flamed copper pipes and fanfare trumpet provide a stunning visual effect that complements its broad musical resources. The original organ was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Martin J. “Hoot” McInerney in loving memory of Martin and Marcella McInerney and John and Marie McFarland.
The Bechstein piano in the church is a nine-foot concert grand model and was presented as a gift to the St. Hugo community by Mr. Regis D. Bowers and his wife Gerre W. Bowers in memory of his mother, Mary Dougherty Bowers.
Carillon and Tower
The most recent addition to the parish’s musical resources is a 48-bell carillon, from the Royal Eijsbouts foundry in Asten, The Netherlands. The instrument is normally played manually from a console high in the tower but can also be played automatically from a computer-controlled system. There is also a practice keyboard located on the ground floor of the tower. The carillon and tower are the gift of the late Wilda King Tiffany. Mrs. Tiffany’s remains are interred in the tower.