Our Lady of Sorrows - Discipleship Strategy

Our Lady of Sorrows
Farmington, Michigan


Our Lady of Sorrows is a large suburban parish in the Archdiocese of Detroit. It has nearly 3000 families and is staffed by three priests, one deacon, and 23 other staff.

Several years ago, the parish began the process of transforming its programming structures to be more focused on discipleship.


The parish offers numerous events throughout the year that serve as shallow entry points for the unchurched or disengaged. For example, on the first Sunday of Advent, parish hosts an outdoor Christmas Tree lighting event after the 5pm Sunday Mass. The parish obtains a large tree and puts two sets of lights on it: purple and colored lights. The purple lights stay on during the season of advent and the colored lights go on at the beginning of the Christmas season. The event includes prayer, blessing of bulbs and advent wreaths, s'more making stations, carols, pretzel caramel dipping, etc. The event has a festive atmosphere and serves as an opportunity to invite participants to other events that the parish will be hosting.

The parish launched Emmaus Small Groups several years ago to respond to the need to form disciples in a new and effective way. Emmaus Small Groups are small, in-home groups that meet weekly or bi-weekly to create new friendships, strengthen old friendships, discuss the Catholic faith, and pray together. They have groups of all ages and life stages that meet all days of the week. Group leaders help to facilitate these discussions with questions developed by the Emmaus Small Group Committee. Small Group Leaders are provided an outline for each meeting with an Opening Prayer, Discussion Questions, and a Closing Prayer. The content follows the lectionary cycle of Sunday readings. Small Group Leaders also receive regular training and participate in formation events to meet and talk with leadership teams from other Emmaus Small Groups.

Parishioners can visit the parish website to view all the current groups and their leaders in order to discern which group is the right fit. People can also start their own group. Since the groups are run by lay leaders in their home, the experience can adjust to the needs of the group. Also, operating away from the parish frees up parish staff and resources.

Small groups are also offered to parents of children who are in faith formation classes. Small groups meet on campus during the children’s class time. Some small groups meet weekly, some meet every other week. Small group content is provided for each week and includes a video, discussion questions, and prayer.

The parish has also created a parish-wide training course called Fishing for Souls. Fishing for Souls is an ongoing formation opportunity that equips parishioners with the confidence and practical skill set to effectively evangelize their families, friends, and co-workers. Topic include:

  • Where to begin? How to start the conversation
  • How to write and deliver your personal testimony
  • Kerygma - The key Gospel message to share
  • Action vs. Words
  • Knowing your audience
  • Listening skills for the sake of Evangelization
  • Simple, practical, everyday evangelization skills
  • Praying with others.

Sessions are held on a monthly basis and recordings of the material are posted on their website for future reference.