Detroit parish holds first “blessing of the purses”

This is something new to me:

Churches have long held special ceremonies to bless the sick, pets, bikes and more.

Now a church in Detroit has celebrated its first “Blessing of the Purses.”

The first annual event, held Sunday at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, was aimed at praying for financial stability in a city that has struggled with poverty but also is still reeling from the recession.

“The city has experienced financial depression,” said the Rev. Michael Nkachukwu, pastor of Good Shepherd. “We are hopeful we are going to come back.”

The church, located a few blocks away from Detroit’s Belle Isle, invited members of nearby St. Augustine & St. Monica Catholic Church and Celestial Tabernacle Baptist Church for an ecumenical service.

About 100 people attended, carrying shoulder bags, clutches, hobos and satchels.

They sang hymns, prayed for economic power and also for an end to violence in Detroit.

“What can we do about the economy? What can we do about the violence,” asked the Rev. Elizabeth Scales, pastor of Celestial Tabernacle. “God gives us an answer in his word …We want God to heal the land. But God said, “You have to do something for me first. You have to seek me and you shall find me.’”

During the service, participants gathered around the altar and held their purses and wallets in the air as the clergy prayed and sprinkled holy water over them.

Detroiter JoAnn James said the service was beautiful but also needed.

“The financial stability of households is on women, especially in this community,” said James, 54. “Women now are holding a lot of the burden in households today.”


  1. My how far we have come from the “widow’s mite.”

    It is both disappointing and concernicng to see this in a Catholic Church. It’s a tad too close to the phony “prosperity gosepl” and way too far from the core message of the gospels.

    By no means am I relegating the poor or the fianncial hardship that many of Americans now face. I certainly believe that it’s appropiate to pray for financial stability, but this “purse blessing”, just rings too “out there.”

    If anyone has the offical book of blessings and can confirm that a “purse/wallet blessing” is among the many, I’m all ears.

    Even more so, we are Catholics. Why isn’t the priest preaching God’s will, offer it up, and trust?

  2. 100 people attended; hardly a mass movement (no pun intended, or maybe yes). Another idiosyncratic expression of the American religion (Catholic, Protestant, Liberal, Conservative). I get a kick out of the lady’s red wig (or is it pink?)

  3. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. Any object that is not evil in itself can be blessed, and has been.

    2. The prosperity gospel is obviously sinful and heretical; but there are a good many traditional prayers and blessings (for example, those for crops) which ask God to provide abundance for his people.

    3. If God sometimes will choose trials for His people instead of bounty, that doesn’t mean we’re supposed to stop praying for our daily bread, as somehow overly worldly. (Holier-than-thou is bad enough, but holier-than-Jesus is bringing holy-go-pious to a whole new level!)

  4. Who does this priest think he is, anyway — T.D. Jakes?

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