History of Sts. Cornelius & Cyprian
Our Church History
The first Catholics in Bunker Hill area were the James Markey family who arrived in 1839. Their longing for the Eucharist led to Rev. Patrick O’Kelly coming from Livingston County in February 1845 to celebrate Mass in their home. In 1849 Patrick Markey donated land for a Catholic Cemetery. When Rev. Cornelius Moutard took up his pastorate at St. John the Evangelist in Jackson in 1857, he was also given the care of the Bunker Hill Catholics. In 1863 a wood frame church was erected in the cemetery. A petition was soon sent to Bishop Peter Paul Lefevere of Detroit for a resident priest. In November 1868 he sent Rev. Theodore Hilary Driessen.
Bunker Hill lost its parochial status in 1873 and remained a mission for the next thirty-two years. The mission was under the care of the pastors of St. Mary Pinckney, St John Jackson or St. Mary Williamston for most of that period. During the pastorate (1898-1905) of Rev. John J. Connolly at Williamston, the Bunker Hill community experienced expansion. A new brick veneer church was built opposite the cemetery and dedicated December 1, 1899. In early 1905, plans were set to build a rectory, convent and school. Fr. Connolly secured the services of the Sister of St. Joseph from Nazareth to staff the school, which opened in the converted old church.
Upon Fr. Connolly’s transfer in July 1905, Bunker Hill was given its first resident pastor in over thirty years. Rev. James O’Brien’s pastorate (1905-1919) combined the best of times with the worst of times. The 1899 church burned down in 1906. The 1905 rectory was destroyed by fire in 1910. A new church (1907), a new rectory (1910), and a school (1912) were built. The school closed in 1964.
The Catholic faith was greatly treasured by the community at Bunker Hill. Thirteen of the parish’s daughters and six of her sons entered religious life or the priesthood. During the pastorate (1923-1942) of Rev. John M. Duffy, Bunker Hill became famous for its picnics. The first one had been held in 1869 but probably the largest was in 1937 when 1,500 attended the dinner. Since 1938 Bunker Hill has also hosted the San Ippolito Festival sponsored by the Italian American Catholic community of Lansing.
From 1986 until 2003 Rev. Eugene J. Beiter led the Bunker Hill Community.
From 2003 until September 2015 Rev. Michael A Petroski led the Bunker Hill Community.
We became a clustered community with St James, Mason in October 2015 Rev Fr Kusitino Cobona is our Parochial Administrator. Fr Jim Shaver is a Senior Priest-in-Residence as of June 2016.