As second half of Families of Parishes begin July 1, changes start to bear fruit

Fr. Marc Gawronski greets a parishioner at St. Timothy Parish in Trenton on Sept. 14, 2021, after a commissioning Mass for the new Downriver 3 Family of Parishes, which includes St. Timothy and St. Joseph parishes in Trenton, Sacred Heart in Grosse Ile, St. Cyprian in Riverview, Our Lady of the Woods in Woodhaven, and St. Roch in Flat Rock. Fr. Gawronski and his fellow priests from those parishes share responsibility for all parishes in the family, leading to increased collaboration. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

As of today, all of the Archdiocese of Detroit's 216 parishes are part of new collaborative structure, with several wins

DETROIT — A year into the Archdiocese of Detroit’s transition to a new parish governance model, the implementation of Families of Parishes has produced “promising” results so far, said Deacon Michael Houghton, director of missionary strategic planning for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

About half of the archdiocese’s 216 parishes have been operating under the new family structure since July 2021, spending the past year learning, growing and collaborating with neighboring parishes.

Today, the rest of the archdiocese’s parishes will join them, with 28 new Families of Parishes forming as of July 1, 2022.

A significant reason for the transition, the archdiocese’s looming shortage of priests, underpins the need for teamwork especially among the clergy, who for the most part have embraced the changes, Deacon Houghton said.

Left to right, Fr. Gary Michalik, Fr. Thomas Belczak, Fr. Denis Theroux and Fr. Jim McNulty, family-pastors for Northwest Wayne Family 2, meet June 29 at the St. Edith Parish rectory in Livonia to discuss their “family priests covenant,” which will help them work together for the good of their new parish family, which includes St. Edith, St. Colette in Livonia, Our Lady of Victory in Northville and St. Kenneth in Plymouth. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)
Left to right, Fr. Gary Michalik, Fr. Thomas Belczak, Fr. Denis Theroux and Fr. Jim McNulty, family-pastors for Northwest Wayne Family 2, meet June 29 at the St. Edith Parish rectory in Livonia to discuss their “family priests covenant,” which will help them work together for the good of their new parish family, which includes St. Edith, St. Colette in Livonia, Our Lady of Victory in Northville and St. Kenneth in Plymouth. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

“We have been really, truly blessed by the fact that we’ve seen a lot of cooperation, collaboration and just friendship among the priests, because now they’re a team,” Deacon Houghton told Detroit Catholic. “One of the things (Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron) said early on was that he hoped Families of Parishes would address some of the isolation he sees in the presbyterate, and I can say without question that’s happening.”

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges — uncertainty among parishioners as to what the changes would look like — has been addressed, as rank-and-file parishioners become more familiar with their neighbors.

The goal of Families of Parishes isn’t to change what’s already working well, Deacon Houghton said, but to strengthen cross-parish bonds and bolster the idea that while each parish has its identity, all are part of the same Church.

“We’ve done more than 70 family gatherings during Wave 1, where we get parishioners together from all the parishes in the family, and we’ve seen parishioners showing a lot of excitement over the idea of coming together and working together,” Deacon Houghton said.

Parishioners talk with one another during a Family of Parishes gathering at St. Scholastica Parish in Detroit on July 16, 2021. The event brought together parishioners and clergy from the newly formed Trinity Family 1 — comprising St. Juan Diego, St. Scholastica, St. Mary of Redford, Corpus Christi, Presentation/Our Lady of Victory and SS. Peter and Paul (Westside) parishes. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)
Parishioners talk with one another during a Family of Parishes gathering at St. Scholastica Parish in Detroit on July 16, 2021. The event brought together parishioners and clergy from the newly formed Trinity Family 1 — comprising St. Juan Diego, St. Scholastica, St. Mary of Redford, Corpus Christi, Presentation/Our Lady of Victory and SS. Peter and Paul (Westside) parishes. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Much of the change has been at the administrative level, with parish staffs reorganizing to reflect the new family structure and priests spending more time with one another — in some cases even living together in the same rectory.

“Priests are coming together more often to pray together as a family, to socialize and to share meals, and it’s been wonderful in that regard,” Deacon Houghton said.

Parishioners likely haven’t noticed much visible change at their parishes, apart from perhaps seeing a new priest celebrate Mass every once in a while or advertisements for cross-parish ventures, and that’s by design.

The purpose isn’t to create homogenous parishes that all look the same, but rather to capitalize on existing strengths, making good programs better and allowing parishes to benefit from their neighbors’ expertise and ideas, Deacon Houghton said.

“Parishes are already doing a number of activities together, and in some cases combining programs such as RCIA, religious education and marriage prep,” Deacon Houghton said. “Another Family of Parishes decided to take a retreat together to Italy.”

A parent and child sign a promise to pray together during a sacramental prep class at St. Cyprian Parish in Riverview. Under the Family of Parishes model, the director of discipleship formation oversees sacramental preparation for each parish in the family, allowing for greater collaboration and cooperation among parishes in the family. (Dan Meloy | Detroit Catholic)
A parent and child sign a promise to pray together during a sacramental prep class at St. Cyprian Parish in Riverview. Under the Family of Parishes model, the director of discipleship formation oversees sacramental preparation for each parish in the family, allowing for greater collaboration and cooperation among parishes in the family. (Dan Meloy | Detroit Catholic)

Bundling services such as landscaping, cable or internet also has the potential to save parishes significant money, time and resources, Deacon Houghton added.

“I just heard an example the other day where one family combined all of its parishes on one common snow removal and lawn cutting contract, and saved several thousands of dollars,” Deacon Houghton said.

There have been bumps in the road, which is to be expected for any new archdiocesan-wide initiative, but for the most part, parishes have been receptive to the changes, Deacon Houghton said.

It’s not an exact science, he said, and the archdiocese is learning from the rollout just as parishes are about what worked and didn’t work.

“I think we came to the realization that some of our milestones in Wave 1 were pretty aggressive, timing-wise,” Deacon Houghton said. “So for Wave 2, we changed some timelines and are giving families more time to accomplish some of those goals.”

As parishes in the second wave of the rollout have observed their counterparts in Wave 1, many have chosen to get a jump on planning even before their “official” start on July 1.

Left to right, Deacon Marc Rybinski (St. Paul of Tarsus), Cheryl Cannon (St. Thecla), Joan Jeffers (St. Malachy), Carol Challis (St. Malachy) and John Harrington (St. Ronald) pose for a photo after a March 15 meeting of Christian service leaders for the four parishes, which together make up Central Macomb Family 5. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)
Left to right, Deacon Marc Rybinski (St. Paul of Tarsus), Cheryl Cannon (St. Thecla), Joan Jeffers (St. Malachy), Carol Challis (St. Malachy) and John Harrington (St. Ronald) pose for a photo after a March 15 meeting of Christian service leaders for the four parishes, which together make up Central Macomb Family 5. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

“We’re seeing a very different story (from Wave 1),” Deacon Houghton said. “Many of the clergy in Wave 2 have been meeting for months now to get a head start. They don’t need us to say it’s time to go. They understand where we’re headed, and they want to get a jump on it.

“That’s awesome,” Deacon Houghton continued. “If they can get ahead of the game, that’s just wonderful.”

Another component to the rollout of Families of Parishes, Deacon Houghton added, has been the completion of family “missionary strategic plans,” in which families come together to strategize and devise a unified plan for evangelization.

Individual parishes began devising such plans before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic — and subsequent announcement of Families of Parishes — made clear that it would be better to do them as a group effort, Deacon Houghton said.

After all, evangelization “is the most important thing” for Families of Parishes to be considered a success, he said.

“The most important thing is we’re seeing families now talking as a family about how to be more missionary,” Deacon Houghton said. “We’re returning to the call of Synod 16 after we’ve all gone through COVID and restructuring to say, ‘You know what? Let’s talk about being missionary again.’”

The priests of the Downriver 3 Family of Parishes process out of St. Timothy Parish in Trenton during a Sept. 14, 2021, commissioning Mass. Fr. Marc Gawronski, left, was named moderator of the six-parish family, but each of the priests shares responsibility for the pastoral care of the faithful in each parish. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)
The priests of the Downriver 3 Family of Parishes process out of St. Timothy Parish in Trenton during a Sept. 14, 2021, commissioning Mass. Fr. Marc Gawronski, left, was named moderator of the six-parish family, but each of the priests shares responsibility for the pastoral care of the faithful in each parish. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

So far, 16 of the initial wave of 26 Families of Parishes have completed their plans, which have included some creative approaches.

“For example, we asked each family to talk about one specific demographic of people who don’t come to church, and how we’re going to call them back in the Catholic Church,” Deacon Houghton said. “How are we going to welcome them and let them know that we have something very special for them in the liturgy and in the Eucharist?”

One big difference from the individual parish plans — which were put on hold after the pandemic hit — is there will no longer be a fundraising component, Deacon Houghton said.

“After listening to the priests, Archbishop Vigneron has determined that’s no longer a requirement. We need to be more missionary, but if that can be done at no cost, let’s find a way to do that. If it does cost some money, let’s find a way within the budget to do that. But there’s no more mandatory fundraising, and the parishes are really thankful for that.”

As the second wave of Families of Parishes gets under way, Deacon Houghton said priests’ and parishes’ willingness to embrace the new direction, despite the initial uncertainty, has been inspiring.

“We thought we might get some concerns (from Wave 2 families) because of some of the things that didn’t go as well in Wave 1, but it’s been the exact opposite,” Deacon Houghton said. “We thought priests might be a little apprehensive, but they’re really excited to get going for the most part. They’re collaborating already, and that’s been a nice surprise.”

Wave 2 Families of Parishes

A year after the first half of the Archdiocese of Detroit's 216 parishes began collaborating as Families of Parishes, the second wave of parishes will begin their journeys together as Families of Parishes on July 1, 2022. Below is a list of Wave 2 families, along with priests assigned to each family (note: clergy list may not be up to date).

*Indicates moderator or "one pastor" for Family of Parishes

Genesis 1 Family of Parishes

  • Mother of Divine Mercy Parish, Detroit
  • Our Lady Queen of Apostles Parish, Hamtramck
  • St. Florian Parish, Hamtramck
  • St. Hyacinth Parish, Detroit
  • St. John Paul II Parish, Detroit

Priests: Fr. Sean Bonner; Fr. Shafique Masih*; Fr. Joseph Plawecki; Fr. Lawrence Zurawski

Renaissance 3 Family of Parishes

  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Grotto) Parish, Detroit
  • Holy Family Parish, Detroit
  • St. Joseph Shrine, Detroit

Priests: Fr. John Bustamante; Canon Jean-Baptiste Commins, ICKSP; Fr. Paul Ward; Canon Adrian Sequeira, ICKSP; Fr. Enzo Addari, S.d.C.

Southwest 2 Family of Parishes

  • Holy Redeemer Parish, Detroit
  • St. Gabriel Parish, Detroit
  • St. Cunegunda Parish, Detroit

Priests: Fr. Kevin Roelant; Fr. Anthony Blount, SOLT

Trinity 2 Family of Parishes

  • Christ the King Parish, Detroit
  • St. Peter Claver Parish, Detroit
  • St. Suzanne-Our Lady Gate of Heaven Parish, Detroit
  • St. Charles Lwanga Parish, Detroit
  • St. Moses the Black Parish, Detroit

Priests: Fr. Victor Clore; Fr. Marko Djonovic*; Fr. Theodore Parker; Fr. John Phelps, C.Ss.R.; Fr. Timothy McCabe, SJ

Trinity 3 Family of Parishes

  • Gesu Parish, Detroit
  • SS. Peter and Paul (Jesuit) Parish, Detroit

Priests: Fr. Phillip Cooke, S.; Fr. Lorn Snow, SJ; Fr. Gary Wright, SJ*

Central Macomb 1 Family of Parishes

  • San Francesco Parish, Clinton Township
  • St. Hubert Parish, Harrison Township
  • St. Louis Parish, Clinton Township
  • St. Peter Parish, Mount Clemens

Priests: Fr. Douglas Bignall; Fr. John Maksym*; Fr. Dino Vanin, PIME; Fr. Christopher Muer

Central Macomb 2 Family of Parishes

  • Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish, Sterling Heights
  • SS. Cyril and Methodius (Slovak) Parish, Sterling Heights
  • St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish, Sterling Heights
  • St. Rene Goupil Parish, Sterling Heights

Priests: Fr. Steven Koehler; Fr. Libor Marek; Fr. Jan Michalski, S.Chr.; Fr. Anthony Sulkowski; Fr. Juraj Nuota; Fr. Adam Slominski, S.Chr.; Fr. Robert Wojslaw, S.Chr. Fr. Paul Czarnota

Central Macomb 3 Family of Parishes

  • Our Lady of Grace (Vietnamese) Parish, Warren
  • St. Anne Parish, Warren
  • St. Faustina Parish, Warren
  • St. Louise de Marillac Parish, Warren
  • St. Mark Parish, Warren
  • St. Mary Our Lady Queen of Families Parish, Warren

Priests: Fr. Robert Bauer; Fr. Andrew Czarnecki; Fr. John Kopson*; Fr. Hoang Lam; Fr. Bogdan Milosz; Fr. Stanislaw Obloj

Central Macomb 4 Family of Parishes

  • St. Blase Parish, Sterling Heights
  • St. Ephrem Parish, Sterling Heights
  • St. Martin de Porres Parish, Warren
  • St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Sterling Heights

Priests: Fr. Arokiaselvam Nithiyaselvam, MSFS*; Fr. Randall Phillips; Fr. Michael Quaine; Fr. Nicholas Zukowski; Fr. Artemio Galos

North Macomb 3 Family of Parishes

  • SS. John and Paul Parish, Washington Township
  • St. Clement of Rome Parish, Romeo
  • St. John Vianney Parish, Shelby Township

Priests: Fr. Festus Ejimadu; Fr. James Grau*; Fr. Stephen Reckker; Fr. Stephen Pullis

SERF 1 Family of Parishes

  • Holy Innocents-St. Barnabas Parish, Eastpointe
  • Our Lady of Hope Parish, St. Clair Shores
  • St. Isaac Jogues Parish, St. Clair Shores
  • St. Margaret of Scotland Parish, St. Clair Shores
  • St. Pio of Pietrelcina Parish, Roseville

Priests: Fr. James Bjorum*; Fr. David Cybulski; Fr. Ronald DeHondt; Fr. Grzegorz Rozborski; Fr. John Wynnycky

SERF 2 Family of Parishes

  • Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish, Grosse Pointe Woods
  • St. Basil the Great Parish, Eastpointe
  • St. Joan of Arc Parish, St. Clair Shores
  • St. Lucy Parish, St. Clair Shores
  • St. Veronica Parish, Eastpointe

Priests: Msgr. G. Michael Bugarin; Fr. James Commyn*; Fr. Eric Fedewa; Fr. Stanley Pachla; Msgr. Gary Smetanka; Fr. Andrew Dawson; Fr. Jeffrey Allan

SERF 3 Family of Parishes

  • St. Ambrose Parish, Grosse Pointe Park
  • St. Clare of Montefalco Parish, Grosse Pointe Park
  • St. Matthew Parish, Detroit
  • St. Paul on the Lake Parish, Grosse Pointe Farms

Priests: Fr. James Bilot*; Fr. Andrzej Kowalczyk, CSMA; Fr. Duane Novelly; Fr. Timothy Pelc; Fr. Colin Fricke; Fr. Thomas Slowinski

Lakes 2 Family of Parishes

  • Church of the Holy Spirit, Highland Township
  • St. Mary, Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Milford
  • St. Patrick Parish, White Lake
  • St. Perpetua Parish, Waterford

Priests: Fr. Tomy Kattikanayil, MSFS; Fr. Thomas Meagher*; Fr. Placido Pereira, MSFS; Fr. Wayne Ureel; Fr. Susaikannu Esack, SAC

Paint Creek (formerly Pontiac Area) 2 Family of Parishes

  • Christ the Redeemer, Lake Orion
  • St. John Fisher Chapel University Parish, Auburn Hills
  • St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Lake Orion

Priests: Fr. James Kean*; Fr. William Promesso; Fr. John Carlin; Fr. Steven Mateja; Fr. Paul Onyebuchi

South Oakland 2 Family of Parishes

  • Holy Name Parish, Birmingham
  • Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, Beverly Hills
  • St. Owen Parish, Bloomfield Hills
  • St. Regis Parish, Bloomfield Hills

Priests: Fr. David Buersmeyer; Msgr. Michael LeFevre; Fr. James Smalarz; Msgr. John Zenz*; Msgr. Ronald Browne

South Oakland 6 Family of Parishes

  • Our Lady of Albanians Parish, Southfield
  • St. Paul (Albanian) Parish, Rochester Hills

Priests: Fr. Nue Gjergji*; Fr. Frederik Kalaj

South Oakland 7 Family of Parishes

  • Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, Farmington
  • St. Andrew Kim (Korean) Parish, Northville
  • St. Fabian Parish, Farmington Hills

Priests: Msgr. Timothy Hogan*; Fr. Sung Jin Lim; Fr. Walter Ptak; Fr. Derik Peterman; Fr. Mark Tibai

Thumb 1 Family of Parishes

  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Emmett
  • Sacred Heart Parish, Yale
  • St. John the Evangelist Parish, Allenton

Priests: Fr. Michael Gawlowski; Fr. H. Thomas Kuehnemund*

Thumb 2 Family of Parishes

  • Immaculate Conception Parish, Lapeer
  • Sacred Heart Parish, Imlay City
  • St. Cornelius Parish, Dryden
  • St. Nicholas Parish, Capac

Priests: Fr. Noel Emmanuel Cornelio*; Fr. Brian Hurley

Monroe 1 Family of Parishes

  • Divine Grace Parish, Carleton
  • St. Gabriel Parish, Ida
  • St. Mary, Our Lady of the Annunciation Parish, Rockwood

Priests: Fr. Gerard Cupple; Fr. James Rafferty; Fr. Michael Woroniewicz*

Monroe 3 Family of Parishes

  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Temperance
  • St. Anthony Parish, Temperance
  • St. Joseph Parish, Erie

Priests: Fr. Don LaCuesta; Fr. Mark Prill; Fr. Robert Slaton*

Northwest Wayne 1 Family of Parishes

  • Holy Family Parish, Novi
  • St. James Parish, Novi
  • St. Joseph Parish, South Lyon
  • St. William Parish, Walled Lake

Priests: Fr. Robert LaCroix; Fr. Michael Savickas; Fr. Stan Tokarski; Fr. Edward Zaorski*; Fr. Clifford Hennings, OFM

Northwest Wayne 3 Family of Parishes

  • Our Lady of Loretto Parish, Redford
  • St. Genevieve-St. Maurice Parish, Livonia
  • St. John XXIII Parish, Redford
  • St. Valentine Parish, Redford

Priests: Fr. Socorro Fernandes, SAC; Fr. Gregory Piatt*; Fr. Tomasz Wilisowski, CSMA

Northwest Wayne 4 Family of Parishes

  • Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Plymouth
  • Resurrection Parish, Canton
  • St. John Neumann Parish, Canton
  • St. Thomas a'Becket Parish, Canton

Priests: Fr. Paul Ballien; Fr. Thomas Kramer; Msgr. Todd Lajiness*; Fr. Christopher Maus; Fr. Anthony Camilleri; Fr. Zaid Chabaan; Fr. Paulo Dias, SAC

Northwest Wayne 5 Family of Parishes

  • St. Aidan Parish, Livonia
  • St. Gerald Parish, Farmington
  • St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Livonia
  • St. Priscilla Parish, Livonia

Priests: Fr. Krzysztof Nowak; Fr. Kevin Thomas; Msgr. William Tindall*; Fr. Joseph Tuskiewicz; Fr. Pathrose Panuvel

West Wayne 2 Family of Parishes

  • St. Aloysius Parish, Romulus
  • St. Anthony Parish, Belleville
  • St. Stephen Parish, New Boston

Priests: Fr. John Dumas; Fr. John Hedges*; Fr. John Kiselica

West Wayne 3 Family of Parishes

  • St. Alphonsus-St. Clement Parish, Dearborn
  • St. Barbara Parish, Dearborn
  • St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish, Dearborn
  • St. Maria Goretti Parish, Dearborn Heights

Priests: Fr. Zbigniew Grankowski; Fr. Terrence Kerner*; Fr. David Lesniak; Fr. Gregory Deters



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