This weekend we return to Ordinary Time. With it we return to wearing green and white, my favorite colors! But we’ll avoid the sports rivalry topic for now. We could perhaps talk of family rivalry of a sort…
During the week leading up to Pentecost Fr. J.J. and I attended a Families of Parishes clergy retreat. For nearly two full days we sat at the same small table with rival clergy from St. Aloysius, Old St. Mary’s, and Our Lady of the Rosary. But I suppose “rival” is a bit overblown. There were no chants, no cheerleaders, no competing marching bands, and no mascots (though Fr. J.J. did show off pictures of Annie). There weren’t even any taunts as to who was #1! In fact, except for yours truly, all the clergy, Fr. Mario Amore from St. Aloysius and Our Lady of the Rosary, Fr. John Owusu, and Fr. Casimir Nyaki of Old St. Mary’s, Fr. Matt Hood, Chaplain for Wayne State, and Fr. J.J., were wearing the same uniform. There were none of the things that come to mind with rivalries.
Rivalry implies competition, conflict, a sense of superiority over the other. Our retreat had none of that. Rather, it was an opportunity for the six of us to learn more about each other, about Families of Parishes, and discern together how it might be implemented within our Family. What I took away from the Families of Parishes retreat was this is not clustering or merging by a different name. Like many of you, I have been through both of those processes when our pastor at St. Colman passed away. We first clustered with, then merged into St. Fabian. Families of Parishes is different.
Clustering and merging were a means for maintaining the norm, if possible. The Family of Parishes concept is meant to allow us to go on mission while dealing with a serious decrease in the number of priests. As Fr. J.J. mentioned in an earlier bulletin, our Family of Parishes will be overseen by a Moderator, Fr. Mario. Parish pastors will become Family-Pastors, associate pastors will become Family-Parochial Vicars, deacons will become Family-Deacons. The Moderator and the Family-Pastors will establish a covenant among them on how, as a group, they will support the parishes within the family. Part of the covenant will address things such as how each priest will cover for the other during vacations or in times of sickness. Much like I did with Fr. J.J. when I was first assigned to the Cathedral after my ordination, I will create a Memorandum of Understanding with Fr. Mario that will outline ministry expectations at the Cathedral and the other parishes within the family.
Services and programs offered by the different parishes are another area in which we will likely see opportunities for sharing resources or meeting the needs for a small number of interested parties. For example, when my wife went through RCIA at St. Colman she was the only one going through the process. While it met her sacramental needs, spiritually her RCIA experience may have been more fruitful had she been part of a larger group. We never considered partnering with another parish that might have had more candidates. Families of Parishes formalizes a collaborative structure that opens the doors to arrangements to meet spiritual and sacramental needs of parishioners in the family. So, say there might be one or two parishioners at St. Aloysius or Old St. Mary’s that were interested in Alpha, not enough for either parish to run their own Alpha program. They could be part of an Alpha program here at the Cathedral. Or you might be interested in Christian Service outreach not provided through the Cathedral but is provided through one of our family parishes. Families of Parishes would open up that opportunity for you to serve through their program.
This collaborative relationship does involve some common structures. Two you will hear more about as we move closer to July 1 are the Family Pastoral Council and the Family Leadership Team. While these structures will foster collaboration between parishes, parishes will retain their own identities… and maybe even a healthy rivalry.
There is much more to Families of Parishes. This, and what Fr. J.J. wrote earlier, provides some awareness and likely generates questions. I encourage you to check out this link for more information.
In the peace of Christ,
P.S. Please note that our 3rd ‘Family of Parishes’ gathering originally scheduled for June 8 is postponed. Fr. Mario Amore will set a new date for later in the summer or early fall.