Since Synod 16, the Church in Detroit has been hard at work unleashing the Gospel and promoting renewal in our parishes and schools. Today, we are in a critical time for the implementation of the Synod’s work. The Families of Parishes model, first announced at Pentecost of 2020 and revealed in more detail last month, begins a new chapter for our Archdiocese. Families of Parishes will enable parishes to collaborate in deeper and more intentional ways in order to better advance the mission Christ has entrusted to us .
The transition to this new model will happen in two waves, with 26 Families being activated in July of 2021 and 25 Families in July of 2022. Families of Parishes will not only involve changes in the way pastors will govern parishes, but it will also involve a renewal of parish staffing structures. These staff positions will be adapted to better reflect the priorities of Synod ’16, as expressed in Unleash the Gospel. As parishes come together into Families, their staffs will begin to work together to more effectively help all people within their boundaries encounter, grow, and witness to Christ.
In preparation for these changes, much work has already been done to set us on course! Three teams were established to build the foundation for the Families of Parishes model: the Governance Team, the Mission Direct Team, and the Mission Support Team. These teams were staffed with members of the Curia along with priests and lay ecclesial ministers from parishes across the archdiocese. They worked throughout the summer to establish a new governance model for priests and new organizational structures for the Families . Their work was compiled into a Families of Parishes Playbook which was published and distributed to all priests on December 4th.
However, much more work needs to be done to build upon the foundation established by these teams. Details of how ministries and business processes will operate in a Family of Parishes setting need to be fleshed out. The Curia staff, in collaboration with parish lay ecclesial ministers, will be working together in the first six months of 2021 to work out these details and to develop training and resources for the new positions.
In the coming months, more details will follow as they are developed.
In the meantime, here are some things that you can do between now and July to prepare for the first transition to Families:
- Explore the Families of Parishes website to see the Family and wave your parish will participate in.
- Read Archbishop Vigneron’s Pastoral Note Led by the Spirit on Mission .
- Pray daily for all the leaders in your Family and for the Holy Spirit to guide you and them in the transition.
- Get to know the parish leaders and ministries offered in the other parishes in your Family.
- Form study groups with members from all parishes in your Family to read and discuss Unleash the Gospel or Led by the Spirit on Mission .
- As appropriate, invite sibling parishes to speaker events, formation opportunities, small groups, picnics, concerts, etc.
- Create Christian Service opportunities that can include members from the other parishes in your Family.
- Become familiar with best practices in your particular area of ministry by exploring the SPARK knowledgebase .
For many people, change can be overwhelming, and in this past year, change has been a constant and unrelenting force. The changes involved in the transition to Families of Parishes will understandably cause some anxiety for those of us who work in the vineyard. In order to ease some of that anxiety, we are committed to keeping you informed as things progress and accompanying you through the transition. As a result, we have scheduled an informational webinar for Lay Ecclesial Ministers on Friday, January 8th at 10:30 a.m. to update you on Families of Parishes. The Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship will provide updates on the transition and answer any questions you may have.
As we prepare for the changes that lie ahead, it is important to stay rooted in prayer and to trust that Christ is leading His Church here in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Looking back on the last six years, we can see how God has been at work in our midst starting with the Year of Prayer in 2014, the Synod in 2016, the beatification of Blessed Solanus Casey in 2017, and the promulgation of the pastoral letter Unleash the Gospel in 2018. There have been many graces that have come from each of these milestones. Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, we trust that he will lead us into the future to build up the Church of Detroit and to continue to unleash the Gospel to all of southeast Michigan!