2020 has been a year of adjustment and change. 2021 will be the same. But as the Archbishop’s Unleash the Gospel letter shares with us, change can be good as well. In the new year, the Archdiocese of Detroit will be launching an initiative called “Families of Parishes”. It is designed to link each parish throughout the Archdiocese with 3-6 neighboring parishes in order to create a larger faith community. These are not mergers or clusters, like we had previously experienced. We will remain as the Cathedral, I will remain as rector, and the Parish of Blessed Sacrament will remain an independent faith community.
Like the other “families” throughout the Archdiocese, we will share resources – primarily clergy and the talents of our lay staff. The purpose of this model for organizing parishes in the Archdiocese is to allow for a greater collaboration, stronger stewardship of our gifts, and more effective discipleship. The team from the AOD have held monthly virtual meetings with the clergy, and our Cathedral Leadership Team and parishioner reps have been consulted. The AOD team has not nailed everything down yet, but a formal announcement of which parishes will be joined as a “family” will be shared by the Archbishop this week. We have some time to adjust, for the transition to this new structure will not begin until July 2021 and will be conducted in waves.
It may help to read some frequently asked questions provided by the AOD:
Q: How will Families of Parishes groupings be chosen and when will they be announced?
A: Each family will consist of parishes that are geographically contiguous, meaning they border at least one other parish in the family. A preliminary list of families was prepared by the vicars of the Archdiocese of Detroit in collaboration with parish priests. These families were shared with Archbishop Vigneron for his consideration and approval. The Archbishop will be announcing the final list of parish families on December 8, 2020
Q: How are Families of Parishes different than mergers and clusters?
A: Unlike mergers and clusters, in a family each parish maintains its individual identity and integrity, while allowing all priests within the family to share their ministry to the faithful of several parishes.
Q: How will parishioners be impacted?
A: In addition to becoming part of a larger faith community (meeting more Catholics!), parishioners will be presented with greater opportunities to encounter Christ and deepen their relationships with Him through increased access to the Sacraments, Christian service, and faith formation programs.
Q: How will priests be impacted by Families of Parishes?
A: This new model fosters a collaborative “team approach” to priests’ ministries and allows them to extend their ministry to more Catholics within the family. Priests will now have the opportunity to share their unique charisms – talents and experiences – with all parishioners within the family.
Q: How will each family be structured, and who will lead the family?
A: The family as a governance model replaces the former “vicariate” structure which included too many parishes to allow collaboration between priests. Two leadership models are possibilities for a family and will be decided upon between the pastors of all parishes within the family. A “one pastor” model which allows a single priest to serve as pastor with the help of other priests; or, a “in solidum” model, in which multiple pastors work together as a team with a single pastor acting as the moderator of the group. When established, each family has the flexibility to switch between leadership models based on what is most realistic and practical for the family.
Q: How will moving to Families of Parishes impact parish finances?
A: Each parish in the family will remain unique and financially distinct entities. They will each be responsible for the financial stewardship of their individual parish.
For more information, visit the Family of Parishes website. I invite each of you to join me in prayer and continue to as the Holy Spirit to guide us on how we are to serve the Lord.