Monsignor Charles Kosanke, the chaplain of Legatus’ Detroit Chapter, is the pastor of the Motor City’s two oldest operating parishes.
Monsignor Kosanke, 59, who was ordained a priest in December 1985, is also the chairman of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Detroit and a member of the Catholic Biblical Association. He has been a Legatus chaplain for 14 years, and recently spoke with Legatus magazine.
How would you describe your experience as a Legatus chaplain?
I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful, dedicated and generous Catholics who support the Church and many other worthy charities. Our monthly program and speakers not only inspire and inform the members of the chapter, but I experience that same inspiration and knowledge as well.
How did you discern your vocation?
The birth of my vocation was really in my home parish, where my family was very involved, as well as my siblings and me. I was an altar server for many years, which gave me a close-up view of a parish priest. I looked into religious orders like the Capuchins, but I really felt called to be a parish priest in a diocese. So after high school, I entered the seminary. But though I never became a Franciscan, many of my parish assignments have brought me into contact with the poor and suffering.
What is your current assignment?
I’m the pastor of two parishes in Detroit: St. Anne Church, which was founded in 1701 and is the second-oldest operating parish in the United States, and the oldest church in Detroit. I’m also the pastor of Most Holy Trinity Church in Detroit, which is our second oldest parish founded in 1834.
In what ways is it unique for you being pastor of two historical parishes?
These two particular parishes are very special to the city of Detroit, not only for their history, but also for their legacy of service. Most Holy Trinity has one of the few Catholic schools left in the city of Detroit. It also has the longest operating free medical clinic in the country. In fact, Most Holy Trinity Church was the first hospital in Detroit because it was the place where they brought people suffering from the cholera epidemic in 1834. With St. Anne Church, the vision of Archbishop [Allen Henry] Vigneron is for St. Anne’s to become an apostolic center for the diocese, especially in the area of evangelization, with programs and services that would benefit all of the Catholics in Detroit.
How do you balance everything?
Two things are very important to me. One, is to get eight hours of sleep a night. Second, a daily holy hour in the morning. Those two things really keep me physically and spiritually strong, and keep me able to balance my various responsibilities. Plus, the parishes and Catholic Charities have very good staff, so it certainly makes it easier when you’re working with competent and dedicated people.
What do you do in your free time?
In my downtime, there are three things I like to do. I like to read, especially history. I also like to golf and swim.
What are you reading now?
I’m currently reading two books. One is called 1861, which is about the start of the Civil War after the election of Abraham Lincoln. The other is more Detroit-based, called The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Streets. These two books dovetail with one another about that time in history. Also, St. Anne’s was the only place of worship in the city of Detroit for 110 years, so anything that happened in the first 100 years of the city certainly has to do with my parish.
How would you describe your day-today life?
When it comes down to it, my life is really the Church. It’s not like I’m a priest 40 hours a week and the other time is my own. I’m basically immersed in the Life of the Church, which gives me great joy.