St. Paul of the Cross Catholic / St. Raphael Orthodox Church

In 1928 an order of Catholic Passionist Fathers bought 20 acres of land on Schoolcraft Avenue to build a monastery in Detroit. The Passionist order was founded in the 18th century by Paul Francis Daniel, who was later canonized as St. Paul of the Cross. Passionists split their time between cloistered life and missionary outreach programs, teaching and aiding priests at other churches.

The $350,000 monastery was dedicated in August of 1930. 60 members of the Passionist community moved into the building, including 20 priests and 40 students. They lived in small, unadorned “cells,” spending long hours of the day in prayer or contemplation. The only part of the building decorated was the public chapel, which held services for the community.

One practice that set the Passionists apart from other orders was their use of “retreats,” where Catholics from all walks of life would attend large group gatherings at the monastery. There they would receive training and spiritual guidance to help them in their daily lives. The retreats grew so popular that in 1960 a dedicated facility was built next to the monastery.

Today the Passionist order in Detroit is still active, through reduced in size. The old monastery building was no longer used as a residence after 1995. In 1996 plans to locate a charter school for at-risk children in the monastery fell through due to the high cost of repairs that the building required.

The old monastery was sold to an Orthodox organization, who used it as a research and retreat center. St. Raphael of Brooklyn, an Orthodox church used the chapel from 2002 until 2015, when it closed.