Archdiocese introduces ‘52 Sundays’ to help families live the Lord’s day together

A new reflection guide created by the Archdiocese of Detroit's Department of Evangelization, Catechesis and Schools seeks to offer families a way to spend the Lord's day together in prayer by focusing on the Scriptures, family conversations and meals together. The program, called 52 Sundays, is available in book form or online at (Photos by Melissa Moon | Detroit Catholic)

Family reflection guide offers alternative Sunday faith-sharing experience for young families, including digital component

NOVI — There’s no such thing as the perfect Catholic family. There are ups and downs, as well as days filled with joy, challenges and messy moments.

There are trials and errors, lessons and celebrations, heartbreaks and happy times. Catholic families are full of chaos. 

At their best, however, Catholic families are full of life, love, faith, companionship and hope.

“Being a family is an art, right? It's not a science,” Fr. Stephen Pullis told nearly 750 people gathered Nov. 15 during the Archdiocese of Detroit's Parish Day of Renewal at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. “It takes messing up, doing things wrong, trying again, learning and growing, and getting better at it.”

As part of the two-day conference for parish ministers, pastors and lay faithful, Fr. Pullis, the archdiocese's director of evangelization, catechesis and schools, introduced a series of new tools geared toward supporting parishes and helping families live their mission as the “domestic Church.”

Foremost among those tools is a new program designed by the archdiocese to help families “reclaim Sunday as a day for the Lord and for the family,” Fr. Pullis said.

Fr. Stephen Pullis, director of evangelization, catechesis and schools for the Archdiocese of Detroit, introduces the archdiocese's new family evangelization program, 52 Sundays, during the 2019 Parish Day of Renewal. (Photo by Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Called 52 Sundays, the program is a roadmap for families to live Sundays together in a counter-cultural, faith-filled way, Fr. Pullis said.

Spanning the entire 2020 calendar year, 52 Sundays includes a resource book and an online component to guide families through weekly exercises based on the Sunday Gospels. It also includes reflections on the saints, a specific prayer activity and a recipe for each week.

“The idea is to take this day that God has consecrated as sacred and to live that as a family,” Fr. Pullis told Detroit Catholic. “We know that looks different for a young adult or a newly married couple, so we really focused on families who have kids at home.”

The material focuses largely on family dialogue, giving families a chance to digest the material together and bounce ideas off one another.

The prevailing culture doesn't support family togetherness as it once did, let alone earnest conversations about faith, Fr. Pullis said.

“So much of how we learn as a family is in dialogue together. It’s important that we take that time as a family to have that conversation,” Fr. Pullis said. “This is a chance for families to make Sunday a day about the Lord.”

Resource books will be available in English and Spanish at, and all of the material will be available to download for free. Families can also follow along with each week's lessons and activities on the Unleash the Gospel Facebook page starting in January.

Given the archdiocese’s decision earlier this year to cease holding sporting events on Sundays, Fr. Pullis said it’s important for the Church to offer an alternative for families to spend time together away from fields or screens.

“We knew for a lot of families, sports were an obstacle to living Sunday as a day of rest set apart for God,” Fr. Pullis said. “But there are lots of things that can distract us. It can be hard to think about, ‘Well, what do we do now? Do we just stare at our screens all day? Do we just break off and be isolated in our own little world?’ This takes each Sunday in 2020 and offers a resource to help the family reclaim that day.”

Part of the 52 Sundays reflection book includes a weekly recipe families can make together. The meal-prep portion of the guide is meant to emphasize the importance of Sunday meals together. (Melissa Moon | Detroit Catholic)

In addition to 52 Sundays, Fr. Pullis introduced a host of resources offered by the archdiocese’s Department of Evangelization, Catechesis and Schools to strengthen marriage and family life, including new guidelines for marriage preparation starting in 2020.

Parish Day of Renewal also featured training for parish staff and ministers on personal faith sharing, forming and organizing small parish-based groups, and offering “radical hospitality” for parish newcomers.

Oftentimes, the “least hospitable” interactions in a parish take place either in the pews or in the parking lot — where people are most likely to become protective of “their” space, Fr. Pullis said.

On the contrary, “our parishes should be centers where people feel welcome, where we can share the joy and what it means to follow Jesus,” Fr. Pullis said.

Small groups are an effective way to do that, especially in larger parishes where it's impossible for parish staff to effectively minister to each individual. 

Parishes must be mindful of the fact that newcomers might only give the parish one chance to make an impression — which means every person serves as a potential ambassador.

“Every parish should be deliberate on how to welcome those who never come to church, who have not been there in years, who may cross the threshold with some trepidation,” Fr. Pullis said. “The parish is really meant to be a leaven for the whole of the community.”

Strong parishes are essential for growing the Church, but they’re also critical for strong neighborhood development, Fr. Pullis added.

“We see in a lot of places, especially in the city of Detroit, the difference a parish makes in the neighborhood,” Fr. Pullis said. “If we're not ready to be hospitable to those who show up at our door, how can we go out and share the Gospel with people where they are?”