- Associated Press - Saturday, March 19, 2016

GROSSE POINTE PARK, Mich. (AP) - For about six months, the body of a 73-year-old man who died in a fire went unclaimed at the morgue. Then a Detroit-area church stepped forward with a funeral Mass attended by more than 250 people.

The Rev. Andrew Kowalczyk, pastor at St. Clare of Montefalco Roman Catholic church in Grosse Pointe Park, said the funeral for Frank Risse on Friday was a way to follow Pope Francis’ call for acts of mercy.

“We felt compelled to perform an act of charity for someone (like Risse), someone who doesn’t have a family, who is out there all alone and couldn’t afford a funeral,” the priest told The Detroit News (https://detne.ws/1pRAY7p ).

Risse died in September at his Detroit home. Although many people in the neighborhood knew him - they called him Doug - his body was unclaimed at the Wayne County morgue. Risse apparently had no family in the area.

Verheyden Funeral Home, across the street from the church, donated a casket and Resurrection Cemetery in Clinton Township donated a burial plot. Others contributed flowers and holy cards.

“He always had a joke,” said Karen Dimanche Davis, who would see Risse walking down their street. “One of his favorites was: ‘Have you seen Mary?’ He’d wait for someone to reply ‘Mary who?’ before he gave the punchline: ‘Mary Christmas!’”

St. Clare parishioner Sue Buckley hopes other churches offer funerals to forgotten people with no money or family.

“Any church can do this,” she said.


Information from: The Detroit News, https://detnews.com/

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