Fr. J.J.’s Jottings

Together In Faith

If you have watched the news as of late or simply spoken to a fellow Catholic in the Archdiocese of Detroit, you probably have heard about the cluster, merging, or closing of parishes. This last week has marked another step in the ongoing pastoral planning process involving every parish in the Archdiocese known as Together in Faith, Phase Two.  This pastoral planning process involves every parish in the AOD, including large, active, and healthy parishes such as St. Anastasia. In 2011 approximately 1,500 lay volunteers, nominated by us pastors as parish planning group representatives, evaluated parish situations to propose what should be done to be better stewards of parish resources to fulfill the archdiocesan mission of sharing Christ in and through the Church.

Archbishop Vigneron’s decisions on parish alignments were informed by recommendations from lay leaders, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, and consultations with others including pastors and his auxiliary bishops. In the months ahead, parishes will develop and implement the plans specified by the Archbishop. Progress will be monitored, measured, and reported to you. Parish plans and implementation will increasingly emphasize planning group actions to address and fulfill the seven mission priorities of the AOD (Evangelization and Catechesis, Christian Service and Outreach, Youth and Young Adults, Lay Leadership, Stewardship and Administration, Catholic Schools, and Vocations). The Together in Faith planning process remains subject to canon law regarding major alterations to parishes including boundary changes, mergers, and other considerations which will be addressed as implantation proceeds.

In conducting the work of Together in Faith, some insights have emerged:

  • Most parishioners do not experience the priest shortage
  • Assigning a pastor to multiple parishes places undue stress on the priest.
  • Our local Church must not abandon the city of Detroit
  • Increasing lay leadership is needed in parish administration
  • Every parish should support Catholic school education
  • We need to make a firm commitment to appropriate levels of financial transparency and accountability; and
  • A number of parishes need to make the necessary changes to become fiscally responsible.

In regards to our parish, we will begin now to identify a cluster partner. This means that we will choose another parish with which, upon my or the other pastors reassignment, retirement, or death, MIGHT share one pastor. The decision to cluster parishes would be contingent upon many factors, such as if a replacement pastor is not available to be assigned (because of the priest shortage). We are to develop cluster plans to be submitted to the Regional Moderator no later than June 30. I will begin to speak to other pastors this week to discuss recommendation plans. I will also consult our Parish Council, and staff and inform you when decisions are made.

I believe there is no need for panic, nor do I believe that St. Anastasia is remotely close to having to deal with any major changes. Although, I do believe it is wise for us to be aware of the realities of the situation. In regards to the priest shortage, in 2000, we had 414 active priests and 313 parishes in the AOD. Today we have 281 active priests and 267 parishes. In nine years, it is projected that we will only have 200 active priests. Presently, we have 38 priests who are serving beyond their retirement age. Thus, there is clearly a need to look at parish structure.

As the implantation of this phase of Together in Faith takes place, please pray for our Archbishop, us priests, and all involved. If you would like to see the complete details for every parish in the AOD, including our own, and see parish plans to address the seven mission priorities, go to www.aodonline.org/TogetherInFaith.

God bless,
Fr. J.J.