Gesu Parish in Detroit was founded in 1922 as Gesu Mission in a remodeled farmhouse on property that would become the new site for the University of Detroit. The university’s president, Fr. John P. McNichols, S.J., acted on an agreement made in 1877 with the Bishop of the Diocese of Detroit that in the event that the college moved to another part of the city, the bishop would empower the Jesuits to build a church near the new college.
On March 19, 1922, the first Mass was celebrated in the temporary chapel of the farmhouse in front of 25 people. Less than two years later, the chapel was enlarged to accommodate 300 people, and plans were underway to establish a school. In the fall of 1925, Gesu School opened its doors to 200 students. In August 1924, the Diocese of Detroit and the Jesuit Community assigned the first resident pastor, and Gesu Mission became Gesu Parish.
The next major building venture for Gesu Parish was the construction of the present church. Once the parish outgrew the farmhouse, Masses were held in the basement of the school from 1925 to 1935. Gesu Church was constructed in 1935 and is considered to be a modern adaptation of Spanish Mission architecture.
Today, Gesu Catholic Church and School continues its service to the community, grounded in the rich Catholic traditions upon which it was founded. Many of the city’s civic leaders are Gesu graduates, and its Jesuit heritage remains strong.