We have just completed National Vocations Awareness Week. As we do every year, the Church sets aside this week to pray for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life. As we in the Archdiocese of Detroit continue our Year of Prayer for Priestly Vocations, I would again encourage you to visit prayforvocations.com for resources to aid you and your family in supporting these efforts.
While we have only had to anticipate the shortage of priests for the past few years, its reality will begin to set in shortly. New assignments begin for priests every July 1. Currently, there are 230 parish assignments for priests in the Archdiocese of Detroit. On July 1, 2023, it is projected that we will only have 218 priests to fill these vacancies due to retirements. This does not consider unexpected circumstances that might take a priest away from active ministry. Our family of parishes is currently served by four full-time priests (Fr. John, Fr. Godfrey, Fr. JJ, and myself)—each assigned to all three parishes in the family. We are fortunate to have Fr. Hood and Fr. Moreeuw assisting as well. While there’s no indication at this time that our assignments will change, it is to be expected that in time, the number of priests assigned to our family will decrease.
You’ll notice that we are referred to a priests ‘In-Solidum.’ The In Solidum model is not new to the universal Church (it can be found in canon law) but is new to most everyone in our country. It simply means that the priests are united as a team and working together to provide for the needs of all three parishes entrusted to our care. While none of us are pastors of any one parish, we have come to the agreement among ourselves that each parish should have a priest principally serving there and handling day-to-day operations. This, however, does not exclude the involvement of the other priests as they decide. ‘Families of Parishes’ helps establish a leadership structure involving all the priests so that each has a familiarity with all the parishes he serves should one of the other priests get reassigned.
While this is our current reality, none of us should be comfortable with the prospect of fewer priests serving our parishes. That’s precisely why we have been called to ardently pray for priestly vocations. Have you been praying? Have you encouraged your son, grandson, or nephew to think about the priesthood? Have you created a culture for praying for vocations within your family and among your friends? Vocations don’t grow on trees—they come from families like yours!
Lastly, I humbly ask your prayers for the priests serving the Cathedral, St. Aloysius, and Old St. Mary’s as we strive to lead our parishes to the best of our ability and help us all grow in our intimacy with the Lord.
With my prayers,
Fr. Mario Amore