What is happening on Chilson Rd., Howell, MI?
Thank you for taking the time to reach out to learn what is being planned for the beautiful 40-acre parcel near Howell, MI.
As with all new projects, there is a bit of confusion about what is planned. There are many misconceptions and also information being shared on social media that is factually inaccurate. Jere Palazzolo, CHI President, issued a clarification on March 4, 2021.
As many inaccuracies remain, this page offers a short history of the project and how the Prayer Campus fits into, but is not in the same geographical location as, the greater vision and mission of Padre Pio’s Home for the Relief of Suffering Hospital, School for the Relief of Suffering Medical School, Terri Schiavo Home for the Brain Injured, and a Public Policy Foundation.
We hope this helps focus the conversations on what is being planned. Thank you for taking the time to have a look.
Let us know if you have any questions you would like added to the FAQ.
St. Padre Pio is a famous contemporary saint who continues to touch many lives with miracles even today. He was a Capuchin friar and the founder of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, a unique Hospital in Italy dedicated to caring for people who are suffering, serving them with dignity, love, compassion, and an awareness of the sacredness of each individual life.
Padre Pio knew that the project was impossible without God, so from his small chapel, he built the foundation on prayer; a network of people praying for the hospital, the workers, the donors, and those they served.
When the Hospital was opened, St. Pio’s friend Dr. Sanguinetti said, “The Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza should therefore be the first link in a great chain. It should be the model for many other innumerable Casas with the same name and above all the same spirit, which must bring love to all of humanity. A program which would make us tremble with awe, if it was not inspired by God who is, above all, love!”
In 2009, as someone was reading that quote, an unmistakable call was heard from St. Pio: “It is time!”
The Vatican owned Casa in Italy signed a formal agreement and through a series of miracles, the prayer foundation for the second link in the chain of innumerable casas has landed in Howell when Bishop Boyea donated land for the prayer foundation of the Casa USA.
This prayer foundation on Chilson Rd. near Howell is the prayer foundation. There will be a replica of the Chapel that St. Pio prayed in and several miles of prayer trails. The hospital, medical school, Terri Schiavo Home for the Brain injured, and other services will not be (and could not be due to size and lack of infrastructure) housed on the Chilson Rd. property.
Catholic Healthcare International was formed to bring St. Pio’s dream to reality and will serve as a model to help other countries build more links in the chain of Homes for the Relief of Suffering.
Frequently asked questions
A hospital is not going to be built on the Chilson Rd. property. This is for many reasons, 1) the 40-acre site has many wetlands and no sewer or water, a hospital could not be built on the land. And 2) the application on the Genoa Township website details the application and a hospital is not being applied for or planned as it could not be built there.
Please read the clear statement that was shared, posted, and included with the application.
We are so glad you asked! Because that one spot on the 40 acres is a natural clearing and has great drainage. On the 40 acres, only 3 tagged trees will need to come down! That is the lowest impact on the beautiful land that could ever be imagined. Had the land split into 8 or more homesteads dozens of trees would need to be removed for roads, drives, construction traffic and homes. Multiple groups homes, or a working farm with farm hand housing would have cut significantly more.
CHI is not seeking a rezoning. The land is zoned country estate and there are many uses within country estate that are allowed, and thus, are considered as possible special uses in the master plan.
Some uses do not need a special permit, like adult group homes and cider mills, and some do need a special permit like Churches and schools. The land was purchased 20 years ago by the Diocese of Lansing because the zoning allows for churches and schools. Had these uses not been allowed, the Church would not have purchased this land.
The medical school is going to train doctors to treat people – body, mind, and spirit. The unique training will graduate highly sought-after physicians in this one-of-a-kind school. Padre Pio’s School for the Relief of Suffering, College of Osteopathic Medicine will not be on the Chilson Rd. property.
Terri’s Home for the Brain Injured is desperately needed as almost daily people are denied the basic care of nutrition and water, thus are starved to death, despite the desperate pleas of their loved ones. Because the needs of those with severe brain injury is great, this unit will be housed within a world class medical facility, with the beds paid for by donations to ensure a safe haven will exist. This will not be on the Chilson Prayer campus.
There are 39 parking spaces and the Chapel holds under 100 people. This site is not like a church with relics, the birthplace of a Saint, a National Shrine, or an apparition site, etc. This is a small chapel in the woods with prayer trails. The purpose of the chapel is to be the heart of the prayer foundation that will make the hospital, medical school, Terri Schiavo Home, and other initiatives grow, thrive, and save and change lives. People will come to the Chilson property to pray. St. Pio said, “Without prayer, our Home for the Relief of Suffering is somewhat like a plant without air and sun,” and he called the prayer groups the “frontline of this little place of charity.”
To expect this tiny chapel to host tens of thousands of visitors like a National Shine is like expecting the same traffic at a corner party store as you would at a Meijer in a large city because they both have food. 😉
We have not.
A quick call to DTE to ask why the poles were changed would clear that up. (We do not know why the poles were changed, but we do know we did not call.)
A very large and beautiful home is going up next door to the property. Some have mistakenly believed that was a part of our project – it is not.
We do have a temporary display on the land that cannot be seen from the road. It is placed in a natural hollow of trees we lovingly refer to as the “grotto”, and it does not have a foundation. It is a sturdy and safe temporary piece of art placed on the property unseen by anyone unless they come well within the boundary of the property. The township attorney sent us a couple of letters with the belief it was a permanent structure ‘wherein’ people gather to pray, seeking a permitting process with a cost in excess of $25,000 for this temporary art. Our attorney promptly responded to each question and point, and we have not heard back.
CHI is not seeking to buy land. When we first heard this claim we were stunned, but then we realized that a few twists occurred between what happened and then, like the game of telephone, where this rumor ended up.
Last year we had been to a few neighboring homes to introduce ourselves, say hello, and invite the neighbors to come to a few events. In conversation, two of the neighbors casually asked that if they were to ever decide to sell their homes, would CHI be interested. In response to the question, we said that if they ever get to a place they wanted to sell, let us know. It was in casual conversation, not initiated by us, we had not thought of buying land before it was mentioned to us, and some of us had even forgotten this small part of a long conversation among neighbors.
We are not in the market to buy and we did not go door to door with offers. We are not seeking to buy the land. The conversation was so casual and short it was clearly not considered an offer to sell, or buy, or even seriously consider – it was a few neighbors in a friendly chat.
If this is a concern among neighbors, they can create a pact to not sell their land or subdivide. If they do sell, they can place land restrictions on their deeds. This may alleviate a concern among the neighbors and ease some fears.
Those who stated this have Catholic Healthcare International mixed up with a completely different hospital system called Catholic Health Initiatives, or some other hospital system. We are not affiliated, nor do we currently own or operate any hospitals or clinics.
We have to admit, this one took us by surprise. We did not know that some people absolutely hate the sound of bells near their homes!
We had planned for the little country church bell in the woods to ring on the hour between 9 am and 9 pm, and for Mass. When the neighbors stated very strongly that was not something they wanted, we reduced the rings by nearly 85%, from 12 times to 2 times daily and for Mass.
The bell will abide by the township noise ordinance.
We agree that the least amount of lights possible is the best solution! This is the one area of the zoning that we will adhere to the minimum allowable. In addition, the lights will only be on for about 30 minutes after sunset (enough time for people to walk off the trails and get safely back to their car) and then will go off and possibly turn on just before dawn.
In response to a neighbor’s concern about security, we did add a light on the chapel that will be directed away from the neighbors.
A different neighbor was concerned about the lights, so we added trees to the property line as he requested.
As part of the application process the township has an Impact Assessment done. The Impact Assessment report, which you can view in full in the packet on the Genoa Township Website, states : “the proposed project is not expected to have an adverse impact upon natural features, stormwater, surrounding land, public services/utilities, or traffic and pedestrians.”
Most days, a few people stop out to pray and walk the trails. The beauty of this being a welcoming place of prayer instead of a development is that the neighbors can continue to walk and enjoy the wooded 40 acres.
Making this even more appealing, we have dozens of volunteers who have dedicated thousands of hours to create walking trails that meander around the large trees. Trees were not removed and instead guided the direction of the trails. Hundreds of pounds of old metal, plastic, broken glass, and other trash have been picked up and hauled away. The land is cleaned up and ready for prayer.
True, those who have been hunting the land will lose the secluded hunting ground, but that would happen with any use or no matter who owns the property.
We have heard a lot of things too, but in going through the social posts and listening to feedback, we tried to stick to the issues that affect the neighbors, the permitting, and the most often stated inaccuracies.
We also tried to avoid the issues that do not directly relate to this property and the permitting, such as commentaries about the Catholic Church or comments that defame individuals in our organization.
We welcome constructive comments and pray we can peacefully work together in harmony to add a beautiful natural feature to this area of Genoa Township. A place where families can pray together, walk together, and praise God for the wonders and abundance of His blessings.