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.
Now that the Wave 1 Families of Parishes have been announced, it is important for the lay faithful to understand and appreciate the significance of their role in this transition.
The Great Commission of Jesus Christ calls us all to go and make disciples, and we can do that by making our Families of Parishes places where people can encounter Jesus anew, grow in faith as disciples, and be equipped to be his witnesses.
As Archbishop Vigneron has stated in his Pastoral Letter Unleash the Gospel: “The engagement of every lay person, according to their gifts and state in life, is essential for the mission of the Church to be fulfilled.” (UTG Marker 5.1: The Laity)
We each have a role in this mission. Families of Parishes provide numerous opportunities for the laity to support this mission through their gifts, their talents, and their prayers. Your opportunity to engage is coming soon.
Beginning in March/April of 2021, there will be a series of three Family Gatherings held for each Wave 1 Family. The themes of these gatherings are as follows:
• Gathering #1 - Encounter: In this gathering, members of the Family will be introduced to each other. Parishioners from all parishes in the Family will have an opportunity to get to know one another and to encounter Jesus through new relationships as brothers and sisters.
• Gathering #2 - Grow: This second gathering is about beginning to grow together as disciples through the creation of relationships founded in faith.
• Gathering #3 - Witness: This third gathering will encourage Family members to celebrate together as a Family, receiving the grace that comes with confidently witnessing to the Gospel.
Through these Family Gatherings, we will come to a better understanding of our role as lay faithful in the Archdiocese of Detroit transitioning to Families of Parishes. For all who are in a Wave 1 Family, keep watching for more information and your invitation to attend these Gatherings. These same Gatherings will be repeated for Wave 2 Families in early 2022.
Peace, Deacon Michael Houghton
Director, Missionary Strategic Planning
Strategic Planning Coach — Team Leader
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.
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.
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.