After a successful first year, 52 Sundays returns with new resources to help cultivate the domestic church through family prayer
DETROIT — After a successful first-year launch with approximately 4,200 copies distributed, 52 Sundays, the Archdiocese of Detroit’s family prayer guide, will return in 2021, with upgrades to help foster the domestic church.
Starting Sunday, Jan. 3, and spanning the entirety of the 2021 calendar year, 52 Sundays will feature new resources and content, with upgrades per the feedback the archdiocese received from families who used the 2020 version.
“The whole idea of 52 Sundays was born of the need to do something to accompany families to strengthen the domestic church,” Anita Houghton, associate director for the archdiocese’s Office of Evangelization, told Detroit Catholic.
The idea, born of Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron’s Unleash the Gospel pastoral letter, was meant to help families reclaim Sundays as the Lord’s Day, Houghton said.
However, Houghton and her team never imagined the need for such a resource would grow exponentially as Michigan was hit with COVID-19, leading to the temporary suspension of Masses and a dispensation that’s been extended until 2021.
“To make time for family is a conscious decision, and when the pandemic hit, lots of time opened up for that,” Houghton said. “Prior to that, we were trying to help families to carve out time. After the pandemic, 52 Sundays became almost like the handbook to accompany families through the livestream liturgy. It was a way to give a little bit more structure to Sunday.”
52 Sundays helped families keep the faith alive and continue faith formation at home when parishes were unable to do so, Houghton said.
“We never would have imagined it would have that kind of use, but maybe God foresaw it and the Holy Spirit encouraged us,” Houghton said.
The book is currently available for pre-order at 52Sundays.com in English, and a Spanish version will be made available online only. An online version was made available starting Dec. 3.
Mary Wilkerson, a mother of five children all under the age of 9, has described herself as a “cheerleader” for 52 Sundays. She and her husband, parishioners at St. Michael the Archangel in Livonia, have been using 52 Sundays as a resource since the beginning of the year and continued to do so even after the pandemic hit.
“I have small children, so we gather together on Sunday morning and we always read the Scripture together and then answer the question prompts,” Wilkerson said. “We’ve done that as a family almost every single Sunday.”
Wilkerson said the questions and activities are suitable for all ages, and while they don’t use every suggestion or activity, they use what works for their family.
Houghton said the resource has been a favorite among families in the archdiocese, and she’s even received inquiries from other dioceses in the United States.
While the book includes favorite sections such as the weekly Scripture readings, family activities and recipes, changes to the 2021 edition include a section explaining how to use 52 Sundays in a family small-group setting, and a “family challenge” that encourages families to put the Gospel into action throughout the week.
Also new this year will be pages dedicated to the Triduum, from Holy Thursday to Easter, and the saint of the week, all of whom are martyrs of the Church in the 2021 edition. The saints span different continents and may be relatively unknown to the faithful, Houghton said.
Wilkerson said 52 Sundays has helped her children become familiar with the Scripture readings before Mass, which helps given their short attention spans during a virtual Mass experience.
“Being able to read the Scriptures as the domestic church really made a difference as we were going through a period of not being able to worship together in community,” Wilkerson said. “It allows them to have a reference point when we go to worship and watch the virtual Mass; they knew what was happening in the Gospel.”
Wilkerson enthusiastically encourages other families to use 52 Sundays in 2021.
“The fact that my kids are in a habit that on Sunday mornings the first thing we do is read this book is just a really kind of awesome thing for their catechetical formation,” Wilkerson said. “They look forward to spending quiet time with this book as a family before we get going.”
Order 52 Sundays
Hard copies of 52 Sundays are available for purchase for $9.95 at 52Sundays.com. Families can also download an electronic version of the guide for free.