of the Church here in the Archdiocese of Detroit cannot simply continue without significant changes. Faith and prudence demand that we act now to ensure that we will be able to do God’s work effectively in the years to come. Charity demands that we pass on to our children both the gift of faith, which is the “pearl of great price,” and Church institutions equipped for the mission God will, in turn, entrust to them.
Of course, such changes are always difficult, but even these difficulties become redemptive when viewed with eyes of faith. God is drawing us more deeply into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. The changes we need to make will surely involve moments of personal loss as some parishes are reconfigured into new worship communities, but we move forward always with the hope that God will raise us up and raise up for us new resources to do his work. We need only to trust in the Lord and follow where he leads us. I believe that with the benefit of Together in Faith, Phase Two, and particularly those elements I will offer in the sections that follow, we have a much clearer sense about where the Lord is leading us than we did before we began this process.
–Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron,
writing in his pastoral letter of February 20, 2012
to the people of the Archdiocese of Detroit
We knew it was coming, but it’s still a hard thing to face: This afternoon, Archbishop Allen Vigneron announced the results of the lengthy two-phase planning process called “Together in Faith.”
This pastoral planning process involved every parish in the Archdiocese of Detroit. In 2011, approximately 1,500 lay volunteers, nominated by their pastors as parish planning group representatives, evaluated parish situations in an open and collaborative process to propose what should be done to be better stewards of parish resources to fulfill the archdiocesan mission: 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 the auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese.
The parish plans which were developed in this process focused on how to best fulfill the seven mission priorities of the Archdiocese: (1) evangelization and catechesis; (2) Christian service and outreach; (3) youth and young adults; (4) lay leadership; (5) stewardship and administration; (6) Catholic schools; and (7) vocations.
Today’s announcement, while not unexpected, brings sad news for many Catholics whose parishes will be closed or clustered. Yet change is necessitated by a declining number of priests and lay leaders, an aging demographic in parish life, and declining enrollment in parishes, especially those in older urban neighborhoods.
In summary, the 267 parishes presently in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese will be affected as follows:
- 2 parishes are planned to close in, or as early as, 2012.
- 8 parishes are planned to merge into 4 parishes by the end of 2012. Because some of these parishes may retain more than one worship site, this may result in between 1 and 4 fewer worship sites.
- 6 parishes will submit acceptable debt repayment plans by June 2012 or may have to close or merge with a neighboring parish.
- 23 parishes are planned to merge into 11 parishes by the end of 2013. Because some of these parishes may retain more than one worship site, this will result in between 0 and 12 fewer worship sites.
- 7 parishes are planned to merge into three parishes between 2014 and 2016. Because some of these parishes may retain more than one worship site, this will result in between 0 and 4 fewer worship sites.
- 7 parishes have plans that do not fit into any of the above categories.
- 214 parishes by the end of 2012 will submit a plan to cluster, merge or more closely collaborate with another parish. Please note: This does not indicate that the parish will cluster or merge in the near-term or by any date certain; rather, these parishes should have a plan to cluster or merge in the event that a pastor is not available or the parish encounters financial deficits.
The Archdiocese of Detroit has opened a website which details the full pastoral plan, explains the planning process, the history, mission priorities, and background, and provides supporting data. The full text of the Archbishop’s letter is available here.
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