Archdiocese invites pastors, parishioners to second Parish Day of Renewal on Nov. 15-16

Fr. Patrick Gonyeau, administrator of Corpus Christi Parish in Detroit, listens to a speaker during Parish Day of Renewal in November 2018. This year's Parish Day of Renewal, Nov. 15-16 at the Surburban Collection Showplace in Novi, will be a chance for pastors, leadership teams and lay faithful to be spiritually refreshed and gain tools for evangelization. (Photos by Naomi Vrazo | Detroit Catholic)

Two-day conference Nov. 15-16 a chance for parish staff, leadership teams to share ideas, generate excitement for evangelization

NOVI — Pastors, parish leadership teams, staff and “just the regular people in the pews” will gather at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi the weekend of Nov. 15-16 for the second annual Archdiocese of Detroit Parish Day of Renewal.

Like the first Parish Day of Renewal held in November 2018, which followed the rollout of the archdiocese's Unleash the Gospel Six-Day Challenge and served as a precursor to its “radically mission-oriented Christmas” initiative, leaders will again gather to discuss how to transform parishes in southeast Michigan to become custodians of grace and centers of evangelization.

“The goal is to have pastors, parish staff, volunteers and everyone to have an encounter experience with God and to know what it means to share that encounter experience,” Michael King, a member of the Family Evangelization Team in the archdiocese's Office of Evangelization, told Detroit Catholic.

This year’s Parish Day of Renewal comes as nine pilot parishes undertake the creation of “missionary strategic plans,” the kickoff of a multi-year initiative in which every parish in the archdiocese will be asked to consider its own missionary makeup and outlook. 

The initiative, which is being called “Sent on Mission,” will continue in early 2020 with Wave 1, which will include 30 additional parishes. 

Besides a chance for parish leaders to bounce ideas off of one another, the Parish Day of Renewal will feature a lineup of inspirational talks, King said, starting with Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, who will give keynote addresses on each day of the two-day conference.

Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, a nationally known Catholic speaker, will give the keynote address during this year's Parish Day of Renewal. Sr. Heidland is pictured in November 2018 at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. (Jonathan Francis | Special to Detroit Catholic)

Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron will open the conference with a talk on Friday, which will also include small-group discussions for pastors, parish staff and leadership teams. Auxiliary Bishop Gerard Battersby will celebrate Mass.

Saturday will feature another keynote by Sr. Heidland and a live recording of the “Open Door Policy” podcast with Fr. Stephen Pullis and Danielle Center. Archbishop Vigneron will celebrate Mass on Saturday.

Tickets for Friday are reserved for pastors, parish staff and leadership teams, while Saturday is open to the general public. Registration costs $57 for a single day or $100 for both days. Until Nov. 1, tickets can be purchased for a discounted rate of $75 for both days, or $25 for Saturday only. 

King said the conference is a way to support pastors and parish staff, both spiritually and materially, as the liturgical calendar turns to Advent and Christmas.

“This is a way of supporting and walking with pastors and leadership,” King said. “It’s also a way to maintain the unity of the Unleash the Gospel movement, bringing key elements of the movement together.” 

King said the archdiocese received positive feedback after the first Parish Day of Renewal, with participants appreciating the chance to connect with counterparts from other parishes. 

King said the conference's second day is for anyone who shares a passion for evangelization, especially those who want to get involved at the parish level. 

The parish pastoral staff from Divine Child in Dearborn talks during a small group discussion last year during the Parish Day of Renewal. (Naomi Vrazo | Detroit Catholic)

“We’re doing a second day for everybody, addressing specific topics that everyone will find relevant,” King said. 

Among those topics will be the sacredness and mission of the family, King said, as well as “how our stories can change lives.” 

“As we experience the encounter with God, sharing that encounter and story with others helps,” King said. “We’ll talk about how to run small groups in our homes and parishes, and then we’ll finish with hospitality and how to welcome others to share our good news.”

Like last year's Unleash the Gospel Challenge, this year's conference will feature a special “surprise” for those who attend, King said. 

Unleash the Gospel calls for a sense of co-responsibility we’ve built from the synod itself,” King said. “We want to provide a space for people to encounter the Lord and to know how to talk about that experience. This matters to individual parishioners because we have a desire to know God personally, to have our families know God, and for our communities to know God.”

King encouraged overwhelmed pastors and parish staff to look at Parish Day of Renewal as just that: a chance to become spiritually refreshed and to enhance the life and mission of the parish.

Participants in the Parish Day of Renewal pray with one another during small group discussions in November 2018.

“We don’t want this to be another thing you have to come to or more work to do; we want people to come and experience an encounter,” King said. “It’s not meant to be more work. It's about coming to receive the Holy Spirit and gaining tools for spreading His message.”

King hopes the conference will be a chance for pastors and parishes to collaborate, taking the Unleash the Gospel movement from the theoretical to the practical. 

“Around the Archdiocese of Detroit, people are excited about Unleash the Gospel, and this is a chance for them — Saturday especially — to hear fantastic speakers, and to be a part of some great groups who are looking to change the culture of the archdiocese. We want people to walk away from this with great hope for their parishes.

“We want everyone at the table, and that is really hard to do, but we have to do it,” King added. “Regardless of whether you work at a parish, you still have the title of 'parent,' 'husband,' 'wife,' 'brother,' 'sister' or 'disciple.' Everyone has a job to do if Unleash the Gospel is going to happen.”

Attend Parish Day of Renewal

To register for the 2019 Parish Day of Renewal at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi on Nov. 15-16, click here. Discounted Saturday-only tickets ($25) and two-day tickets ($75) are available until Nov. 1.