Our Family

Families of Parishes: What you need to know as the first groupings begin today

BYDETROIT CATHOLIC

JUL 1, 2021SENT ON MISSION

 

Key terms to know, frequently asked questions about the Archdiocese of Detroit’s transition to a new parish governance model on July 1

DETROIT — Today, the first wave of Families of Parishes begins operating together in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

The historic change to parish structures was announced last year, when Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron and his leadership team discerned that a renewal was needed to reposition parishes to be “radically mission-oriented” as they face the challenges of 21st century evangelization.

Since the plan was announced during Pentecost 2020, leadership teams at the parish, family and archdiocesan levels have met to pray and discern how the changes would take place.

Half of the archdiocese’s 218 parishes will join together in new groupings starting today, July 1, 2021, while the other half will begin operating on July 1, 2022.

As the first wave of 26 parish families begins operating today, here’s what you need to know.

Key terms

Family of Parishes: A Family of Parishes is a group of generally three to six parishes in a geographic region that will work closely together, sharing clergy and resources to advance the mission of evangelization. A “Family of Parishes” is not a merger or cluster, and each individual parish in the family retains its own canonical identity.  

In Solidum model: One of two models of parish governance under which Families of Parishes will operate, along with the “One Pastor” model. In the In Solidum model, a group of family-pastors share responsibility for a Family of Parishes, with help from family-parochial vicars and deacons. One pastor among the group will serve as a “moderator” for the family. Although priests may primarily minister at one or two parishes, they will share responsibility for every parish in the family.

“One Pastor” model: The second of two parish governance models under which Families of Parishes will operate. In this model, a single pastor assumes responsibility for all parishes in the family, assisted by parochial vicars and deacons.

Moderator: The priest who will serve in a “first among equals” role in an In Solidum Family of Parishes. The moderator’s role is to serve his brother priests by assuming much of the responsibility for the family’s administration, speaking on behalf of the family and exercising the role of tiebreaker in discussions among family-pastors.

Family priests covenant: An agreement among priests serving a Family of Parishes about how they will live, serve and collaborate together for the good of the parish family.

Mission direct: A term referring to the ministries and areas of a parish that directly interface with the faithful, charged with advancing the family of parishes’ mission of evangelization. These areas might include religious education, worship or Christian service roles, among others.

Mission supportA term referring to areas of ministry that work more “behind the scenes,” but are nevertheless critical to achieving the Family of Parishes’ mission. These might include finance, information technology, administration or human resources roles, among others.

Family Pastoral Council: A new consultative body within a Family of Parishes. The purpose of the FPC is to provide input to the “one pastor” or moderator regarding the overall mission and direction of the family. Two parishioners from each parish will serve on the Family Pastoral Council, along with each of the family’s priests.

Family Leadership TeamThe Family Leadership Team (FLT) will consist of approximately 4-6 members acting as a consultative group to the “one pastor” or moderator, especially regarding major decisions of the Family. Members of the FLT may include lay ecclesial ministers, lay leaders, deacons, or priests, but the FLT should not be dominated by members of the clergy.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is the archdiocese making these changes now?

The shift to Families of Parishes is a response to Synod 16, which called for a complete renewal of structures to make parishes “radically mission-oriented.” The goal is to make parishes places where individuals and families can encounter Jesus anew, grow as disciples, and be equipped to be witnesses the Risen Christ. 

In addition to this, the current health and economic crises have accelerated the need to make changes. In addition to the already problematic priest shortage, the Church now has fewer material resources to keep its mission active. Archbishop Vigneron, in consultation with clergy and lay advisors, has determined that now is the time to act.

The mission hasn’t changed, but how the archdiocese approaches that mission is shifting in response to the present circumstances.

How will Families of Parishes help?

The change will help in two ways: by giving overworked priests the support they need, and by helping parishes combine material and spiritual resources to focus more intently on areas of mission.

By some projections, the Archdiocese of Detroit could have one-third fewer priests over the next decade. The average age, currently 57, is likely to increase, too. Almost two-thirds of priests in southeast Michigan are over the age of 60. Many of these priests care for one or multiple parish communities as they approach — or even exceed — retirement age, a burden that if left unchecked would quickly become unsustainable, the archbishop has said.

Under the Families of Parishes structure, priests would share one another’s burdens by coordinating ministry schedules, avoiding duplicate efforts and working in closer harmony with their brothers.

In addition, parishes can better coordinate ministry efforts. By combining resources, parishes can strengthen already strong areas of ministry — think joint Vacation Bible Schools or religious education programs — while realizing “economies of scale” to lower the costs of purchased goods.

Will individual parishes retain their uniqueness? 

In a word, yes. The goal of Families of Parishes is not to close or merge parishes, but to strengthen and refocus ministry efforts. In fact, by combining resources with neighboring parishes, the hope is to accentuate what makes each individual parish unique by sharing those gifts with neighboring parishes.

For instance, if one parish is known for hosting a particularly robust men’s prayer group, while another is known for its Hispanic ministry, the Family of Parishes might decide to extend invitations to those ministries to other parishes in the family.

As each family discerns how to best align resources, they may decide to retain their separate identities and worship spaces. Others, after a careful and honest review of existing resources, may opt to close worship spaces or merge with partnering parishes. These decisions will be left to the discernment of that family, with assistance from the Archdiocese of Detroit, guided by a complete focus on mission and the best interest of the entire community.

How many Families of Parishes will the archdiocese have? Who is in my “Family?”

In total, the archdiocese will have 51 parish families — with half beginning now and half beginning in July 2022. A list of which parishes are in which family can be found here, along with an interactive map.

What changes can I expect as a parishioner?

At first, you might not notice much.

Over the coming months, you might enjoy visits from neighboring priests and deacons who will celebrate Mass, hear confessions or introduce themselves at your parish. You might also notice invitations to join events or ministries at neighboring parishes — maybe the parish festival, or a choir concert, for instance. You might also notice new Mass and confession times at your parish, if your family has decided to coordinate those schedules.

During the spring, parishioners whose parishes will be joining new families July 1 were invited to a series of family gatherings during which they were able to learn more about how Families of Parishes will follow the Archdiocese of Detroit’s “Encounter, Grow, Witness” paradigm of evangelization.

Will parish staffs experience any changes?

As parishes come together to form Families of Parishes, they will begin to discuss the practical ways in which the clergy and staff will interact within the family, as well as finalize the new leadership structure, including items such as leadership teams, key staff mission, and operations staff positions.

During this process, some parishes may lose some staff members (e.g., if a family of parishes opts to share one bookkeeper instead of having each parish maintain its own). At the same time, some families will be able to add positions that better serve the mission going forward. These and other staffing decisions will be left to the discernment of each family of parishes, led by parish leadership and with assistance, as needed, from the Archdiocese of Detroit Curia.

As families begin to form, they will discern and pray about how to organize various “mission direct” and “mission support” ministries.

What are the “mission direct” ministries?

To accomplish the goal of becoming a missionary church, five areas of ministry that reflect a vibrant and evangelizing parish have been identified:

1. Discipleship Formation, overseeing all aspects of disciple formation in the family. The director of discipleship formation identifies, recruits and forms catechists; assists the school faculty in the preparation of creative, spirit-filled liturgies and sacramental experiences; and other related tasks.

2. Engagement, assisting parishioners by equipping them for the service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The director of engagement supervises those working in ministry placement, evangelization, communications, RCIA, hospitality, and ecumenical ministries.

3. Evangelical Charity, ensuring a full response to Catholic social teaching through charity in areas of human need, both within the parish and beyond. The director of evangelical charity supervises those working in human services; community outreach; visitation of the sick and homebound; Stephen Ministry; and funeral luncheon ministries.

4. Family Ministries, assisting families living as domestic churches in their homes. The director of family ministry supervises those working with infant baptism; marriage preparation, and family support group ministries.

5. Worship, facilitating the worship life of the community by coordinating and providing quality prayer and liturgical experiences. The director of worship supervises those working in liturgy; parish music; prayer groups; and wake service ministries.

What are the “mission support” ministries?

Mission support ministries primarily support the Family of Parishes through functions that do not work directly with the faithful, and are designed to give pastors, moderators, and other clergy more time for missionary work. The mission support team encompasses, but is not limited to, finance, accounting, human resources, information technology and facility maintenance.

Family mission support teams will be led by family mission support directors and usually will be comprised of existing personnel from each of the parishes. A family mission support director serves as the single point of contact for the “one pastor” or moderator, and the mission support team serves its entire family.

Which priests will be assigned to my parish family?

Moderators, “one pastors” and other clergy for each parish family beginning July 1, 2021, were announced this spring. A list of those assignments can be found here.

Other frequently asked questions

For other frequently asked questions regarding Families of Parishes, visit familiesofparishes.org.

 

Archbishop: As we move to Families of Parishes today, I thank God for you

 

ARCHBISHOP ALLEN H. VIGNERON

JUL 1, 2021VOICES

 

The following is a message from Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron to the people of the Archdiocese of Detroit:

The Archdiocese of Detroit today celebrates a significant milestone in its missionary transformation as 113 parish communities join together and form 26 Families of Parishes. The remaining 103 parish communities will follow next year, forming 25 additional Families of Parishes. These groupings are the fruit of embracing the graces of Synod 16 and our response to God’s call to renew our structures and align resources toward our common mission to share Christ with every woman and man in southeast Michigan. 

This is the most radical transformation our parishes have experienced in decades. Teams of priests, deacons, religious and lay staff will work together to better share their gifts and talents with the whole Family of Parishes. This is not merging or clustering. In our model of families, each parish will keep its identity and charism but will share its gifts with all the parishes.

Our move to Families of Parishes is meant to rejuvenate and energize my brother priests, who will benefit from the key elements of collaboration and mutual support among the team. And you, the faithful of the Archdiocese, will also benefit from a larger group of priests, deacons, and lay staff ministering to you. But most importantly, I am confident that Families of Parishes will help us go on mission. This is what Jesus is asking of us; we are equipping our parishes to go out into the community to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to everyone we meet. That is why we are willing to make this radical transformation. 

I want to offer a few words of gratitude. To begin, I am grateful for our priests and deacons who will start their new assignments today in their new Families of Parishes. It takes great courage to embrace change. We need their courage and God’s grace to navigate this transition, so please join me in praying for our clergy and for all our lay staff who will support them in our new structures. 

I also want to thank the many co-workers who have helped me discern, plan, and launch Families of Parishes. This is a significant undertaking, one we could not have accomplished without open discernment and discussion about concerns, ideas and vision. It is through active listening and prayer that we can follow the path down which the Holy Spirit is leading us.

Lastly, I want to express my deep appreciation and affection to you, the faithful of the Archdiocese, who are embarking upon this journey with us. You will play a large role in uniting your new Families of Parishes and contributing to the success of our shared mission. Thank you for trusting in this process and praying for its success. 

As we bring together our first Families of Parishes today, we also celebrate the feast of St. Junipero Serra, the great missionary who was instrumental in bringing the Gospel to California in the 1700s. St. Junipero’s motto was “siempre adelante, nunca atrás,” which translates to, “always forward, never back.” It is providential to mark this milestone in the life of the Archdiocese under the intercession of Father Serra. United with Mary and the Twelve, we move forward, never back, confident that Jesus walks with us and that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we will share with men and women of our time the hope, joy and salvation that can only be found in Christ.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit

 

 

 

Reverend Jeffrey Scheeler, OFM, with the concurrence of his Superior, Very Reverend Mark Soehner, OFM, appointed Moderator of the In Solidum team of priests who, with the other priests of the team, will lead the newly formed South Oakland Vicariate Family 5 (Church of the Transfiguration Parish, Southfield; Divine Providence (Lithuanian) Parish, Southfield; Our Lady of La Salette Parish, Berkley; Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish, Oak Park), effective July 1, 2021. Father Scheeler currently serves as Pastor of Church of the Transfiguration Parish, Southfield.

 

 

Spotlight

On Our Family of Parishes

Introducing the Pastors

 

From Fr. Paul Chateau

Pastor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

I am Fr. Paul Chateau and I have served as Pastor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish for the past 7 years.  In 2012 St. James in Ferndale was clustered with Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Oak Park where I had been pastor since 1972.  In 2014 we merged and became Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish with two worship locations—one in Ferndale and one in Oak Park where the parish office is located.  I have lived at the rectory in Oak Park for the past 48 years.

I was brought up on the east side of Detroit living near St. Anthony Church on the Boulevard and Gratiot and Guardian Angels at Kelly and Whittier.  Sadly, both parishes are now closed.  I went to Sacred Heart Seminary from 1954 through 1962 and then to St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth until my ordination in 1966.  Following my ordination, I served at St. Cecilia in Detroit, Queen of All Saints in Fraser, St. Martin de Porres in Warren, and St. Joseph’s in Monroe.  In 1972 I came to serve at Our Lady of Fatima in Oak Park as Co-Pastor with Fr. Tom Flynn.

I am eager to broaden my own personal outreach as well as that of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish with our neighbors and new family members at Our Lady of La Salette, the Church of the Transfiguration and Divine Providence.  I was familiar with La Salette and Transfiguration but only recently was at Divine Providence.  I was delighted and impressed when I had the opportunity to visit Divine  Providence and meet with Fr. Jonikas and some of the parishioners. 

While I am saddened that thirteen churches within a three-mile radius of our church have closed over the years closed I am enthusiastic by the inclusion in our Family of Parishes.  My hope is that together we will continue to flourish and bring clearer light and life through greater cooperation.  Working together in areas will help us to be more efficient.  I look forward to being enriched by the wisdom and faith of our family and bring hope and excitement as we walk into the future together.

 

Fr. Jeff Scheeler

From Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM

Pastor of Church of the Transfiguration

I am Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM, and have been pastor of the Church of the Transfiguration for three years.  I am 68 years old, and in 2021 will be a professed Franciscan Friar for 46 years and ordained for 41 years.  Prior to coming to Transfiguration, I served in parishes in Galveston, Texas; Lafayette, Indiana; and Cincinnati, Ohio (my home town).  I also served as part of a team of friars working with men as they entered our fraternity, as a campus minister at Rice University in Houston, and was part of administration/leadership of our Franciscan province for a time. I have enjoyed the variety of ministries that have been part of my spiritual and ministerial journey.  The various roles have  allowed me to be part of different dioceses and to meet Franciscans from the various Franciscan provinces in the US and other countries.

I look forward to getting to know the other parishioners in our Family.  I hope that we can support and strengthen each other, and perhaps work together on various projects.  I would imagine that we could share some things like religious education, outreach and service projects, etc.  I hope each  parish can learn from one another and grow stronger from our working together.  I would imagine that there are things in each parish that work well, and areas where we could benefit from working together.  Transfiguration has a strong outreach program, distributing food twice a week. We are also a relatively small and aging parish with few young families, children, and young adults. I would hope our collaboration might help strengthen our ministry to these groups.  I imagine that the clergy would celebrate Eucharist from time to time in the various parishes of the family.

We are looking forward to the adventure, trusting in our cooperation with God’s grace and goodness.

 

Fr. Jonikas

From Fr. Gintaras Antanas Jonikas

Pastor of Divine Providence

My name is Gintaras Antanas Jonikas (Gintaras means Amber in Lithuanian) I am the Pastor of  Divine Providence Lithuanian Catholic Church for 11 years now and was ordained as a Catholic Priest in 1989 in Panevezys, Lithuania. I am 57 years old.

Originally, I came from a very beautiful and green country by the Baltic Sea - Lithuania. On March 11th, 1991 the Lithuanian Parliament declared its Independence of the State and left the USSR  forever. Lithuania as a country was occupied by Russian Bolsheviks for 50 years and for this reason the Catholic Church suffered enormous oppression and persecution.

As a Lithuanian Catholic Priest, I'm also serving the American-Lithuanians in Atlanta, GA, and Palm Beach, FL.

I'm so glad to be a part of Our Family of Parishes.  The people of Divine Providence Church have big hopes to keep our National-Ethnical Church strong in faith and everything that unites us with Jesus Christ and one another.  As a priest, I'm ready to work in cooperation with my fellow brother priests and to share my personal spiritual experiences.  Divine Providence Lithuanian Catholic Church can’t wait to share with you our culture,   because we love Lithuania and we love the United States of America.

Fr. Jeff Scheeler sent a very good message in which I agreed with totally - I would imagine that there are things in each   parish that work well and areas where we could benefit from working together.

Let Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and our Savior Jesus Christ lead us in this new adventure of the Catholic Church in the Detroit, MI area.

 

Picture

From Fr. Patrick Connell

Pastor of Our Lady of La Salette​

Father Connell was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up in Elmhurst, a Chicago suburb. In 1975, he moved with his family to Troy, Michigan where he attended Boulan Park Middle School and Troy High School. He graduated from Troy High in 1981. After high school, Father attended Oakland Community College for two years. He was going to attend the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana to become a lawyer. As he was involved in this process of discernment he decided to answer the call he heard in high school to become a diocesan priest.


Fr. Connell enrolled in Sacred Heart Major Seminary in 1983, planning to stay a year. He soon realized his call was to the priesthood and stopped the Notre Dame entrance process and fully entered into the program of priestly formation at Sacred Heart.


During his seminary studies, Father Connell earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy and a Masters of Divinity with a concentration in medical ethics and moral theology. He was ordained on June 27, 1992. He was first assigned as Associate Pastor of St. Thecla Church in Clinton Township from 1992 until 1995. Father’s second assignment was Associate Pastor of St. Regis Church, Bloomfield Hills. In addition to his duties as associate pastor and pastor, Father Connell has also served as Chaplain of Brother Rice High School and Marian High School, and was Director of the Office of Alumni at Sacred Heart Major Seminary for one year.


In early 1998, Father Connell became pastor of Our Lady of La Salette Parish.


Father enjoys Notre Dame football, reading, astronomy and computers.

 

WAVE 1 – JULY 1, 2021

South Oakland Vicariate Family 5


Church of the Transfiguration Parish, Southfield

Click here to visit Transfiguration's website


Divine Providence Parish, Southfield

Click here to view Divine Providence's website


Our Lady of La Salette Parish, Berkley

Click here to view La Salette's website


Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish, Oak Park

 

Click here for Interactive Map

 

For more information on frequently asked questions, what Family of Parishes means and will impact Our Mother of Perpetual Help please visit https://www.aod.org/families-of-parishes