DETROIT -- The Rev. Joseph Karasiewicz, the priest who led the unsuccessful fight to save Immaculate Conception Church from the wrecker's ball last summer, died of an apparent heart attack today. He was 59.
Karasiewicz was found dead at St. Hyacinth Rectory, where he had celebrated a Sunday mass the day before, by the Rev. Boleslaw Krol, an assistant priest at St. Hyacinth Parish.
His death came exactly five months after his church, located in the city's Poletown district, was razed to make room for a new General Motors Corp. plant. The fight to save Immaculate Conception drew nationwide attention.
'Father Joe,' as he was called by many of his parishioners, had had no full time assignment since the closing of Immaculate Conception by the Archdiocese of Detroit. In October, he served briefly as a substitute priest at St. Helena Parish in Wyandotte.
Karasiewicz, who observed the 35th anniversary of his priesthood on Oct. 26, celebrated mass Sunday at St. Hyacinth and then attended a breakfast meeting with a dozen people who were planning a Christmas party.
Karasiewicz is survived by two brothers, Tony and John Karas, and a sister, Ann Pluta. Funeral arrangements were pending.