Returning to GodJANUARY 10, 2009
- Antonia Bunton
- (Desiree Cooper)
- View the Slideshow
- Good News, Bad News, No News
- Spending the Stimulus Money
- Foreclosure Double Punch
- The End of Weekend America
More From Desiree Cooper
This weekend, like every weekend, thousands of people will crowd into Detroit's Most Holy Redeemer Church. The 128-year-old building was once home to the largest Catholic parish in North America. Today, more than 5,000 people attend the six weekend masses, most of them at the three Spanish-language masses. So a lot of people are devoted to Most Holy Redeemer Church. But for 35-year-old Antonia Bunton, going to church there every Saturday is a special privilege. Weekend America's Desiree Cooper explains.
Antonia Bunton: On Saturdays, I get to go to church with my family to the church I grew up in. It's something I look forward to all week.
My Holy Redeemer Church was built in the 1800s, and it's amazingly beautiful. When you walk in, the floors are marble. Right in the middle where the priest stands, there's this big fountain. In the middle of that is a crucifix. There's a gazebo around the crucifix with bouquets of flowers all around it. On the ceiling that's over the gazebo, there's a painting of Jesus. His eyes are so - so real. It doesn't matter what part of the church you're sitting in, you feel that Jesus is just staring down at you.
When I was a little girl, we lived across the street from the church. I used to go to the church and go to the garden and talk to God. If my mom and dad used to fight, that made me sad as a little girl. Financially it was hard for us. And I remember being sad. That was a place I could go and talk to God to make things better. And I felt God's presence. That's the same feeling I get today.
When I was 17, I took three boys to sell marijuana to two other boys. I dropped them off. I was supposed to drive around the block and come back and pick them up. But halfway around the block, I heard gunshots. I did not go back because there wasn't supposed to be gunshots and I was scared.
I did not think anyone would get hurt. I did not think anything would happen except that there would be a drug deal and I would get 50 dollars. The marijuana deal turned armed robbery, turned murder. One boy was shot and killed. Another one was shot and he has permanent injuries. He's paralyzed.
I received 25 to 50 years.
In prison, the mass was in the education building in a classroom. The priest followed the regular format for mass. It lasted about a half hour or 45 minutes. We all prayed together and it was very nice. But I always thought about my Holy Redeemer Church. And I always thought about how beautiful it was and how I couldn't wait to get back.
The first time I walked into Holy Redeemer Church after being in prison for 17 years, I was overwhelmed. That first mass there after I got out, I was overwhelmed.
I want to help people by letting them know what could happen. Specifically young people, to let them know to be careful of the people they associate with. Because whatever happens, they can be held accountable for what someone else does, whether they intend it or not. When I talk to God, I tell Him I cannot directly help those people I hurt so bad. I may never be able to tell them how sorry I am. But what I can do is use my life for a purpose greater than myself. That's what I ask God to use me for something bigger than myself.
It's like you're resting on a cloud. That's how I feel when they sing during church. They sound like angels and I feel like I'm in heaven when I'm there.