Since the beginning of Together In Faith: Phase II in early 2011, about 1,500 lay Catholics have represented their own parishes as part of this process. These parishioners, chosen by their respective pastors, met regionally throughout the year with parishioners from neighboring parishes. Together, they reviewed and discussed information relating to their parish and their communities, including parish outreach and worship activities, area demographic profiles and trends, sacramental trends (such as the number of baptisms a parish averages versus the number of funerals), church attendance records, and parish financial information.
In the fall of 2011, these parish representatives finalized their initial planning, and submitted their plans to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC), a board comprised of mostly laypeople who provide consultation to the archbishop based on areas of professional expertise. The APC submitted the parish plans, along with their own suggestions, to Archbishop Vigneron in November 2011.
The efforts by lay leaders at the parish level and in the APC yielded plans to strengthen the Church and its mission in every corner of the Archdiocese, and garnered helpful collaboration and resource sharing between parishes. While a small portion of parishes have used Together In Faith to pursue significant restructuring actions such as merging, all parishes have used this planning to ensure a stronger local Catholic presence, with a focus on bringing Christ to southeastern Michigan.
Upon reviewing the plans submitted by the parish representatives and the APC, Archbishop Vigneron issued his pastoral letter on the process and on the future of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Forward in Hope to Share Christ. With this letter, he announced the portions of the planning related to parish facilities – church clustering and merging plans – in a mailing to all registered households in the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Since February 2012, representatives of parishes have continued to meet to revise, expand upon and execute future strategic planning for and between their parishes.