What are Families of Parishes and why are we creating them in the Archdiocese of Detroit?
Over the next two years, all parishes of the Archdiocese of Detroit will join other parishes in new groupings called “Families of Parishes.” Families of Parishes are groups of parishes, generally three to six, sharing resources to advance the mission, including having multiple priests and deacons serving the Family of Parishes. This new model will allow the priests, deacons, religious and lay staff associated with each parish to better share their gifts and talents with the whole Family of Parishes. Our shift to Families of Parishes is a response to Synod 16, which called for a complete renewal of structures of our parishes to make them radically mission-oriented. Our goal is to make our parishes places where individuals and families can encounter Jesus anew, grow as disciples, and be equipped to be witnesses the Risen Christ.
The current health and economic crises have accelerated the process of renewing the way our parishes are organized and structured. In addition to the already problematic priest shortage, we now have fewer material resources to keep our mission active. Archbishop Vigneron, in consultation with clergy and lay advisors, has determined that now is the time to act.
Our mission hasn’t changed, but how we approach that mission must shift in response to our circumstances. We must move forward with greater collaboration and better stewardship of our resources. With this shift, we take inspiration from the early Church. From the beginning, Christ knew the mission he gave his disciples would be difficult and that they would face many challenges, so he sent them to preach the Gospel two-by-two (Mk 6:6-7 and Luke 10:1). Like us, the early disciples knew what was asked of them but not necessarily how to accomplish it or what the end result would be. St. Paul himself was shipwrecked three times (2 Cor 11:25) but wherever he ended, he remained committed to the same mission with which we are entrusted today. Because of St. Paul’s commitment and the commitment of the early apostles, the Gospel was heard across the world. Like the disciples, we have been asked to unite and go on mission together, enhancing each other’s strengths and working collaboratively to Unleash the Gospel around us. And while the impact of the pandemic may feel like a shipwreck – like St. Paul, this is not what we planned or wanted – we know that God wants us to continue his mission with the same zeal and dedication of the early apostles. He will be with us every step of the way.