The ownership society

In the era when automobile production ruled the roost in my native Detroit, people didn’t say they worked for Ford. Instead, by some grammatical quirk, they’d say they worked for Ford’s. Or Chrysler’s. Or, in an earlier time, Packard’s.

That same quirk entered into parish life in the city. It wasn’t St. David, but St. David’s. Or St. Brendan’s. Or St. Juliana’s. Or St. Jude’s. One would think that parish’s whose patronal named ended in “s” would be exempt, but tell that to Catholics who were members of St. Ladislaus — er, St. Lad’s.

I had uncles who worked in auto assembly plants, although the closest my father ever got was a brief stint at a tool and die shop that serviced the auto industry but shut down during a late-1950s recession. That lack of familiarity with car production (although I loved looking at new cars once they came off the delivery trucks) may be why I’ve recoiled at the whole apostrophe-“s” phenomenon. We may dedicate our parishes to a particular saint, but we don’t cede ownership to him or her, as if we were expecting the saint to run the place. That’s our work here on earth.

One Response

  1. Most churchgoers refer to their church with an apostrophe “s” at the end of the name. For example, St. Michael Church is more often called St. Michael’s Church.

    The reason for this is that without the apostrophe “s” the name of the church does not sound complete. Moreover, the apostrophe “s” indicates more emphatically that this church was named to honor this particular saint.

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