Detroit family of parishes sees strength in diversity: ‘Headed in the right direction’

Members of the St. Vincent de Paul chapter at St. Juan Diego Parish on Detroit’s west side pose for a photo during a family of parishes gathering at St. Scholastica Parish on July 16. 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. (Photos by Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Event for six parishes on city’s west side about ‘getting to know each other better as a family,’ learning as a community, parishioners say

DETROIT — To borrow a line from Julie Andrews in “The King and I,” the Family of Parishes gathering July 16 at St. Scholastica Parish in northwest Detroit was all about “getting to know you.”

The first wave of parishes taking part in the Archdiocese of Detroit’s restructuring have been meeting in organizational and social gatherings to learn more about their “extended family” from neighboring parishes.

Parishioners from Detroit’s St. Scholastica, St. Juan Diego, St. Mary of Redford, SS. Peter and Paul (Westside), Corpus Christi and Presentation/Our Lady of Victory parishes — collectively known as Trinity Family 1 — gathered at St. Scholastica’s social hall, where each parish had information booths about their ministries and features.

Parishioners listen to testimonies from other parishioners during the family of parishes gathering in St. Scholastica Parish’s social hall on July 16. 

The gathering was originally scheduled to be outdoors and include food trucks, music and games, but heavy rain moved the event indoors. The evening also included testimonies from parishioners, along with a few “icebreaker” party games and scavenger hunts.

Clergy from all six parishes, along with parish leaders, spoke about the future of the family and what it means to work together. 

“This event tonight is about us getting to know each other better as a family,” Marilyn Bachelor, a 47-year parishioner at St. Mary’s of Redford, told Detroit Catholic. “This is a way for all of us to get introduced to the priests and see how we can all work together. Some of us have worked together on the vicariate level, so we know a little bit about each other.”

The meeting was the third in a series of gatherings in the family to discuss particulars such as Mass times, administrative duties, sharing resources and how to operate as a single community made up of six unique parishes.

Fr. Jim Lowe, CC, and other clergy from the six parishes spent time chatting with parishioners and staff from other family parishes. 

John Indyk, a parishioner of St. Juan Diego on Detroit’s west side, which is composed of St. Christopher and St. Thomas Aquinas churches, said the new family model could help St. Juan Diego share its vibrant ministries with others in the family, particularly its strong family ministry. 

“St. Juan Diego Parish is driven by a very family-oriented Hispanic culture,” Indyk said. “Families bring their kids to Mass, whole families of three generations sitting together, and we offer religious education with activities for both adults and parents. As a parish, we look to be the ones who are bringing that family formation to the English-speaking parishes.”

Trinity Family 1’s parishes are diverse. Some, such as Corpus Christi, are prominently African-American, while others like SS. Peter and Paul are historically Polish, in addition to the vibrant Hispanic presence in parishes like St. Juan Diego. 

That diversity is a strength as the family reaches out to communities surrounding the parishes, highlighting what makes each member of the family different, but drawing into the same body of Christ, Bachelor said.

The diversity of the six parishes is part of the newly formed family of parishes’ strength, said Marilyn Bachelor, a longtime member of St. Mary’s of Redford. 

“I think we need to think of ourselves as all Catholic,” Bachelor said. “That is the ultimate thing. We are a big, Catholic family. Some are closer than others, some may be stepchildren, but we all have the same basic love of the Lord, wanting to grow our faith. 

“There is a concern about the growth of the Church in the city,” Bachelor added. “And hopefully, this will be a way of reaching out more to the community, being more evangelistic.”

Fr. Jaime Hinojos, pastor of St. Juan Diego and moderator of Trinity Family 1, spoke to parishioners from all six parishes gathered at St. Scholastica about what the new arrangement will mean for the day-to-day life of the parishes and the priests who serve in the family.

One of the benefits, Fr. Hinojos noted, is that priests will have a greater opportunity to live, pray and socialize together, re-energizing one another as they share the load in caring for multiple parishes in a family.

Fr. Jaime Hinojos, moderator for Trinity Family 1 who ministers at St. Juan Diego Parish, plays music during a presentation July 16 at St. Scholastica. 

Michael Heard, a 55-year parishioner at Presentation/Our Lady of Victory who is currently in formation for the permanent diaconate for the Archdiocese of Detroit, said amidst the changes, the focus will be on using parish resources to more effectively reach people and evangelize.

“I’m excited about this new model,” Heard said. “Families of Parishes opens up a whole new avenue for sharing our resources, whether it’s finances, priests or deacons. It shows the diversity of our archdiocese, and most importantly, it gives us more capabilities for us to go out to respective communities and spread the love of Jesus.”

Heard said the opportunity for priests and deacons to share ministry together is important in an increasingly isolated clergy.

“Clergy need that camaraderie and support,” Heard said. “Now as someone aspiring to be a deacon, I can’t think of a better way for the Church to work as an ecclesial body, living, serving and walking with one another.”

Parishioners get to know one another as ministries, groups and charities offer information about each of the six parishes during the family gathering July 16. 

Indyk of St. Juan Diego observed that the various groups gathered at St. Scholastica before now might have had very little reason to interact with one another, but now are joining forces on a new journey. 

“Nights like tonight are about making sure we are not standing still,” Indyk said. “There are so often walls — in our sports, our schools, our various festivals — that divide us into little groups. But now with our world being more connected, we want to know our sisters and brothers. We need to know the community around us.

“Together, we have the tools and ability, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to go out there,” Indyk added. “The energy I feel from tonight tells me we’re heading in the right direction.”

Families of Parishes

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