Detroit Considers Plan To Close, Merge Parishes

DETROIT (CNS) – Nine metro Detroit parishes will close over the next five years if Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron accepts the recommendations a mostly lay advisory board approved Nov. 30.

Another 60 parishes would be merged down to 21 if the recommendations of Detroit’s Archdiocesan Pastoral Council are accepted as presented.

At a news conference Dec. 1, Archbishop Vigneron said he expects to announce a revised pastoral plan for the Archdiocese of Detroit by mid-February, after reviewing the recommendations and considering the input of other consultative bodies.

Altogether, the changes would reduce to 222 – down from 270 – the number of parishes in the six counties of the archdiocese.

Move The Church Forward
While local media focused on the issue of church closings, Archbishop Vigneron emphasized that parish reorganization was only an aspect of a pastoral plan intended “to move the life of the church forward.”

It is necessary to reorganize the parishes so the archdiocese will be in a better “position to bring people back to the practice of the faith and also offer the graces of church membership to new people.”

A great deal of the voluminous material in the recommendations – all of which may be viewed at www.aodonline.org – concerns proposals for how parishes can cooperate to better serve the mission of the Catholic Church.

Sense of Loss, Sense of Dying
The archbishop acknowledged there is a sense of loss, a sense of dying about losing a parish, because of the key role that parishes play in the Christian life.

“But that’s who we are: We die with Jesus in order to live with Jesus. I invite people to enter into this process with hope, and a belief that if we abandon ourselves to the Lord in trying to do the best that we can in a tough situation, the Lord will bring new life out of it,” he said.

Although the final version of the pastoral plan could differ from the recommendations as presented, Archbishop Vigneron said a great deal of work had been put into them, and “I would need a pretty good reason to move away from them.”

The recommendations came out of a pastoral planning process — known as “Together in Faith Phase II” – that involved about 1,500 people from parishes throughout the archdiocese taking part in 40 planning groups during 2011.