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A Concrete Sign of Commitment

Students, faculty, staff and alumni participate in Life Remodeled project to improve neighborhood around Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

by MOSAIC Editorial Team

Every segment of the seminary community came through: faculty, resident priests, staff, alumni, seminarians, and lay students. Participating in the Life Remodeled movement became something of a family event at Sacred Heart in which all family members pitched in to help.

Life Remodeled is a non-profit organization of volunteers that, according to its motto, seeks to “Remodel Lives . . . One Neighborhood at a Time.” It mobilizes volunteers to refurbish homes and public buildings, clear out vacant lots, chop down weeds and scrub brush, mow grass, and generally tidy up blighted neighborhoods throughout the city of Detroit.

by MOSAIC Editorial Team

From July 31 through August 5, Life Remodeled targeted the area around Sacred Heart Major Seminary for a communal clean-up.  And August 1 was the date Msgr. Todd Lajiness invited the Sacred Heart community to join in this effort of public service—even designating August 1 as a paid day for staff members who volunteered. 

Monsignor called it “a concrete sign of the commitment we have to the community and a way in which we can go beyond mere words and put into practical action the convictions of our faith.” To add to the family atmosphere, the Archdiocese of Detroit chose the same date as a time of service for its employee volunteers.

Kathy Luberski was one of those seminary volunteers. Sacred Heart’s financial aid director put on her work gloves and Life Remodeled t-shirt and went to work along with other members of the seminary clan: to just name a few, administrative assistants Patricia Bologna, Wendy Pizzo, and Melissa Pordon; John Duncan, director of facilities management; Monsignor Lajiness, Fr. Stephen Burr, vice rector; alumni board member Michael King; former seminarian Fr. Andrew Dawson; finance assistant Tamra Perzanowski; receptionist Dawn Frazer; Ovations food services director Mike Gomula; and Fr. Timothy Loboe, dean of studies.

“The work was hard. It was a hot and humid day,” Ms. Luberski says. “But the teamwork was inspiring.” She says the residents who live around the seminary appreciated the labor, too. “A neighbor lady even brought out cookies and drinks for the afternoon group.”

“Looking around, we saw people driving by waving at us as we were walking to the worksite. And we were receiving so many ‘thank-yous’ and appreciation while we were working.”

Monsignor Lajiness believes there was something much deeper going on throughout the day than that just physical work. “This is not just about cleaning up a neighborhood—that’s the first thing people see. But we prayed before we started. We prayed to make sure what we’re doing here is very much connected to what God is asking us in our hearts—to be transformed.”

Father Burr agrees there is a greater significance to the Life Remodeled movement than just picking up debris or laying down paint. “Hopefully people can take away that Christ loves them, because there are people here to help. We’re here because of the mission that we know Jesus is in our lives, and we bring that to whatever we do.”

A seemingly mundane event turned into a moving spiritual experience for Ms. Luberski. She was part of a cluster of workers who were walking down Calvert Street pushing wheelbarrows and lawn mowers, and shouldering brooms, rakes, and hedge clippers, preparing to clear out an overgrown lot at the corner of Calvert and Linwood Avenue. “It was inspiring as everyone immediately went to work—clipping, hauling, mowing, picking up this and that which had been embedded into the tall weeds.”

Then something happened as she lifted up her eyes from her work.

“At that moment I saw our bell tower. We were in the shadows of Sacred Heart Major Seminary! I had a profound realization of the connection that all of us have to the neighborhood, to the people. 

“Hands and hearts working together in respect for one another, the neighborhood, the people we encountered. And all of us surrounded by the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” 

Ms. Luberski says at that moment the mission of Sacred Heart became “enlivened” in her heart—even though, she says with a laugh, “my body was pooped out by lunchtime!”

To learn more about contributing to Life Remodeled, through your labor or donations, visit liferemodeled.com.  

MOSAIC Editorial Team

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.