It’s a Saturday afternoon in Southwest Detroit and 50 to 60 community members gather at Our Lady Queen of Angels church.
It’s a normal service. Families fill the wooden pews. There’s music, taking communion. But there’s one big difference between this service and a traditional one: Outside of the church 40 semi trucks line the parking lot.
This is the Blessing of The Semis.
“I always have God with me when I’m on the road, because you never know if you’re gonna come home alive.” — Eric Torrijos, a local semi truck driver
Erik Howard is a photographer and community leader in Southwest Detroit. For WDET’s Detroit StoryMakers, he took us to Our Lady Queen of Angels church for the blessing to understand how faith and the local economy intersect in this historically immigrant-heavy area of southeast Michigan.
“I always have God with me when I’m on the road,” says Eric Torrijos, a local semi truck driver. “Because you never know if you’re gonna come home alive.”
Though the blessing is the focus on the event, it soon turns into a party, with food and a bouncy house. It’s a fun way to celebrate working in a field that’s otherwise pretty difficult.
Click on the player above to hear Erik Howard take us to the Blessing of The Semis and see photos of the event below.
Erik Paul Howard is a photographer and is the co-founder of Inside Southwest Detroit, Young Nation, and The Alley Project in Southwest Detroit. He has been building community through cultural, place-based, and media projects in Southwest Detroit for over 20 years.