- Msgr. Clem Kern
Known as the "Corktown Priest," Clem Kern pastored Holy Trinity Parish in downtown Detroit from 1945 o 1977.
Clem was a local legend, known for his love for the poor, the down-and-out, and the skid row residents. But he extended the same love toward the middle class, the upper class, professionals, union workers, everyone. People from all levels became part of his efforts for the poor. It was said, "People who can't stand each other love Clem Kern."
No one ever knew about most of what he did because Clem never did what he did for show.
Clem had a way of simplifying things, getting to the heart of the matter. When the motorcade taking labor leader Jimmy Hoffa to prison stopped at Holy Trinity Church so that Clem could say a special Mass for him, it ignited a fair amount of public outrage. Reporters asked him how he could do such a thing. He responded: "Well, jimmy needs a lot of prayers, and the best thing we know how to do is pray."
In his later years, a spiritual director (who was interviewing diocesan priests to learn more about their spirituality) visited Clem and asked where he found God in his ministry. The priest thought for a while and said, "Well, it sure isn't easy to find God in the poor." The director was stunned. Everyone thought Clem was drawn to the poor because that's where he found God. "No," he said, "I find God mostly in the Eucharist. That's why I go to the poor - to take God's love to them."
Msgr. Clem Kern died on the feast of the Assumption in 1983 at age 76.
- Little burgundy Book, Diocese of Saginaw