FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LANSING—The formal dedication and blessing of downtown Lansing’s newest office building will be held at 1:30 P.M. Wednesday (March 12) in a room named in honor of Michigan’s most famous Catholic priest.
Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit and other Catholic bishops from throughout Michigan will gather in the Gabriel Richard Room of the of the Michigan Catholic Conference Building at 510 S. Capitol Ave. for the ceremony.
Nearly 200 civic, government and religious leaders have been invited to attend the dedication of the four-story high-tech building.
Father Gabriel Jacques Richard, a native of France, was a pastor, educator and public servant. He arrived in Detroit in 1798 and became the pastor of Ste. Anne’s Church in 1802.
In 1809 he published Michigan's first newspaper on a printing press he brought to Detroit. In 1817 Richard was one of the founders and first professors of the University of Michigan. He also established schools for girls and Indian children.
From 1823 to 1825 Richard was the Michigan Territory's delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, the first Catholic priest to be elected to Congress.
As a delegate in Congress, he was instrumental in gaining support for the Territorial Road, which linked Detroit and Chicago, opening Michigan to settlement. He was scheduled to become Michigan’s first Catholic Bishop but died of cholera in 1832 before the Papal appointment arrived.
The blessing and dedication of building is the second of four events being held this week to celebrate completion of the four-story building. A flag-raising ceremony was held on Monday; an Open House will be held from 2 P.M. to 6:30 P.M. Thursday and the blessing of the Saint Thomas More Chapel will be held Friday at 10 A.M. when the first Mass will be offered by Lansing Bishop Carl F. Mengeling.
Founded in 1963, the Michigan Catholic Conference serves as the official voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan on matters of public policy.
In addition, the Conference develops, coordinates, and manages programs that provide health, dental, disability, and life insurance coverage for 22,000 lay employees and retirees, as well as property and casualty coverage for nearly 900 Catholic parishes throughout Michigan.
The MCC was the fourth State Catholic Conference established in the U.S. Today there are 32 State Catholic Conferences from coast to coast. In its early years, the Conference’s offices were located a block from its new building—on the second floor of a former home at 524 Townsend St. Prior to its move to the new building, the Conference was located at 505 N. Capitol Ave. for 35 years.
The new building is located on the site of the 144-room Capitol Park Motel that closed in 1992. During early days of the Conference, MCC Board meetings were held at the Capitol Park Motel, a few feet from where the Board now meets in its new building.
MCC was a pioneer from the beginning and it has continued its leadership nationally ever since it was established 40 years ago. It was the first State Catholic Conference in the nation to appoint a woman—Sister Monica Kostielney of the Religious Sisters of Mercy—as its President and CEO. Since her appointment nearly a decade ago two other State Catholic Conferences have appointed women as their top administrators.
When construction started in June of 2002, former Lansing Mayor David Hollister said the building would increase the economic vitality of the south side of Lansing’s downtown area.
In recent years, the State Chamber of Commerce and Michigan Manufacturers Association have built office buildings in the area and the State Employees Credit Union, across the street from the MCC Building, has modernized its seven-story building and expanded its parking area.
The Chapel of Saint Thomas More on the first floor of the building is named after the patron saint of statesmen and politicians.
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.
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