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Better Know A Parish: Cross in the Woods, Indian River, Michigan

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Parish Name: Cross in the Woods

Location: Indian River, Michigan

Founded: 1948

Diocese: Gaylord

Pastor: Father Michael Haney, O.F.M.

Number of Parishioners: 877 persons


What makes your parish different from other parishes?

It is a National Shrine. It is home to the largest outdoor crucifix in the country (55 feet tall, with a 7-ton bronze corpus). It receives more than 100,000 visitors each summer, and we regularly celebrate outdoor weekend Masses between Memorial Day and Labor Day, in an outdoor sanctuary seating 700 worshippers. About 1,500 Chaldean Catholics, most from the Detroit area, come here annually on September 14 (Feast of the Triumph of the Cross) to celebrate their patronal feast with Masses in Arabic and Chaldean.

What’s the most distinguishing characteristic of your church building?

One of the four walls of the church is solid, clear glass. That way worshippers, from the indoor sanctuary, can view the outdoor crucifix even on rainy and snowy days -- and there are lots of snowy days in northern Michigan!

Who is your most interesting parishioner, and what makes them so interesting?

Our most interesting parishioner is Don Rosinski, a widower who knows, and is known by, everyone in town. He is an active Knight of Columbus, is a regular usher at Saturday's 4:30 Mass, always serves donuts at our monthly Hospitality Sunday, and is a greeter during our busy summer tourist season.

What’s the most popular event, ministry, or holiday tradition at your parish?

The largest outdoor crucifix in the country is a magnet that draws spectators here from everywhere, and causes many of them to return annually for another visit, and to pass on that tradition to their succeeding generations. Weekend outdoor Masses in the huge sanctuary at the foot of that crucifix are also a "big draw," as are the shrines of St. Peregrine and St. Kateri Tekakwitha.

If we asked parishioners what they love most about the parish, what would they say?

Many would say they love the outdoor crucifix, and the grounds surrounding it, and many others would say they love the sense of welcome and hospitality which they experience here as visitors.

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