I recently approved initiating phase two of Together in Faith, a continuation of the Archdiocese of Detroit's pastoral planning process launched in 2003. Together in Faith is a process through which parishes assess their ministries and resources in the context of their communities and in collaboration with their neighboring parishes. I am grateful to have inherited this sound archdiocesan-wide pastoral planning process and welcome this opportunity to reinvigorate our planning efforts.
Envisioned as an ongoing process rather than a one-time effort, Together in Faith phase one was intended to be in effect for five years. Being better stewards of our resources resulted in pastors and parish lay leaders making many recommendations in the first phase of Together in Faith. This led to parishes working together on several pastoral issues including sacramental preparation and formation programs, while some parishes clustered, merged or closed.
The second phase of Together in Faith will build on parish priorities identified during phase one, and will result in new and creative parish strategies as well as a comprehensive and practical pastoral plan for the entire archdiocese.
In the past few years, parishioners throughout southeast Michigan have lost jobs and savings in an economy where recovery remains a subject of much prayer. This second phase of Together in Faith will enable parishes, in groups, to further reflect on how we can meet the needs of the changing landscape in southeastern Michigan, identifying strengths and solutions for the years ahead in a mutually supportive, prayerful atmosphere.
Representatives from parishes throughout the archdiocese are regularly convening in planning groups with others from your neighboring parishes to study and reflect on demographic, sacramental and financial trends, and how the parishes can best respond. These planning groups are also addressing pastoral priorities including youth and young adults, evangelization and catechesis, Christian service outreach, formation of lay leadership, and parish stewardship and administration.
A similar effort involving Catholic K-8 schools throughout the archdiocese is underway on a parallel track. This will provide a timely opportunity for parish and school communities to incorporate Catholic K-8 schools as part of a larger ecclesial community, rather than as separate entities providing educational services to our children.
There are no pre-determined outcomes for these processes. It is my expectation that Together in Faith will result in stronger parishes and schools better positioned to evangelize in word and deed their neighborhoods and to help the Church fulfill her mission.
I am confident that with your involvement and prayerful support, we will proceed in a thoughtful, sensitive and respectful way. Please join me in asking the Virgin Mother of God to protect and advance our efforts to fulfill Christ's mission to his Church.
In the months ahead, you will receive frequent updates on this important work. In the meantime, I welcome and encourage you to learn more about Together in Faith.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit