Five pastors have served St. Irenaeus during the last fifty-five years. We are thankful to each for answering the call to shepherd our parish, for the gifts they shared and for their labors that continue to bear fruit today.
Monsignor Raymond Kuzava
Our founding pastor was appointed by Archbishop Dearden and served 25 years in his only pastorate after teaching at Sacred Heart Seminary.
He is fondly remembered for forming and leading our parish in its early years, building its sacred places of worship and for planting seeds of faith on an empty field.
He was tragically killed in an auto accident in 1992, shortly before his retirement.
Father Edward Mitchell
Father Mitchell helped us to go forward at a sad and difficult moment in our parish history.
He nurtured faith and community during this period of growth by enriching the Religious Education programs, creating the Christian Service Commission and leading the development of our parish hall, offices and classrooms.
Father Frank Pollie
Father Frank loved celebrating the Sacraments and leading others to encounter God in their lives.
“I want nothing more than to be able to say Mass, hear confessions, anoint the sick, and be here for the people I serve.”
-Deacon Richard Hulan quoting Father Frank
Father Brian Chabala
Our last pastor was appointed in July 2011, arriving from St. Fabian in Farmington Hills. His joy in preaching the Word of God along with a welcoming spirit have helped the parish to grow to over 2,100 families.
Hospitality and fellowship have been enhanced by the beautiful new Gathering Area, as we open our doors to invited others to encounter Jesus.
In the beginning…
On June 21, 1967, Archbishop John Dearden established a new parish in Avon Township, naming Monsignor Raymond Kuzava as its first pastor. The parish would be called St. Irenaeus in honor of the second century Saint, Bishop and Church Father. The early parish was comprised of about 250 families.
On Sunday, June 25, the first two Masses were held at West Junior High School, with 500 in attendance, and the ceremonial groundbreaking for a new church was conducted on July 23. The new church was dedicated on January 14, 1968. Archbishop Dearden, escorted by the Honor Guard of the Knights of Columbus, concelebrated the first Mass with Monsignor Kuzava. The first hymn sung was “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.”
The northern boundary of the parish was expanded in 1977 and, along with Avon Township growth, strained the physical facilities to celebrate Mass and conduct religious education. Groundbreaking for the current building was held on August 5, 1979. A historic moment arrived on November 15, 1980, when Cardinal Dearden presided over the Dedication Mass.
From its earliest days, parishioners stepped forward to develop active and vibrant ministries to support the new parish, planting the seeds for the Catechetics, Christian Service, Worship, Evangelization and Social Commissions that serve the parish today.