Just like every domestic family is unique, 'not every Family of Parishes is the same,' missionaries say — but all have different gifts
SHELBY TOWNSHIP — As each Family of Parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit becomes more unified, leaders are learning the key to collaboration depends on one particular thing: discovering the unique charisms of the individuals and parishes within the Family and putting them to good use.
“If you've been baptized, you have charisms,” Mary Martin, Central Region coordinator for the Archdiocese of Detroit's Department of Missionary Strategic Planning, told Detroit Catholic. “As people discern their charisms, they find a call that's unique to them, and if we had a whole parish, really a whole Family of Parishes on fire to do that, we would indeed be joyful, missionary disciples.”
In North Macomb Vicariate Family 2, consisting of St. Francis of Assisi-St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Ray Township, St. Isidore Parish in Macomb and St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish in Shelby Township, missionary Brenda Hascall has seen collaboration in full force during monthly "missionary strategic planning" meetings. In each meeting, all six Family directors in addition to each parish pastor put their minds together, each bringing their own perspective.
The Family is diverse, Hascall said. One of the parishes is small and two are large. One has a large Hispanic community.
“It makes the family very interesting that there's a mix of cultures and that people are open to each other, even though each parish keeps its own identity," Hascall said. "Also, they are like any other family — each person in a family is totally different."
When the family meets up, they take the time to learn from one another, Hascall said.
“They ask questions like, ‘What’s happening? What's working? How can we be more creative? How can we be more missionary?’” Hascall said.
One of the first times the Family of Parishes met together was to plan its commissioning Mass; as a team, the directors and pastors planned the Mass down to the smallest details.
“Everybody had their places and their talents and has these amazing charisms that they bring to the table," Hascall said. "They are able to have their discussions and they hear each other.”
Collaboration efforts within the family have expanded beyond just the core group of directors and with great fruits, Hascall added.
A survey was sent to every parishioner within the family, asking for input: What good things are happening in the parish? What can be improved? What are our strengths and weaknesses?
The directors took the feedback to heart and implemented it into their missionary strategic planning. As a result, the Family now has two Family-wide pilgrimages planned — one to Lisieux and one to the Holy Land — and a mission trip for the young adult group.
"Like every family, there might be some doubts, but when there's a will and God is present, it is possible and there are many things happening," Hascall said. "So many things are being born from this, and I know not all the Families of Parishes are the same. They are all a little different, just like a normal family."
One of the ways Families of Parishes are identifying these charisms is by hosting Called and Gifted workshops, Martin said. Called and Gifted is a program that helps people discern how their gifts and talents can be used to benefit their faith community.
That approach has worked for Trinity Vicariate Family 1, which consists of Corpus Christi, Presentation/Our Lady of Victory, SS. Peter & Paul (Westside), St. Juan Diego, St. Mary of Redford and St. Scholastica, Martin said. Together, the Family of Parishes calls itself the "One in the Spirit Family."
The priests from each parish meet together every other week for prayer and to discern what is best for their family, Martin added.
“One in the Spirit absolutely has committed to praying and listening to the Holy Spirit together," Martin said. "So out of that came this desire to really engage all of their parishioners, all of the people so that they could be sent on mission.”
The goal is to see this happen across all Families in the archdiocese, Martin said, although she recognizes that each Family will have its own unique needs based on demographics.
"What the Lord wants to do in those places, across those Families of Parishes, can be really unique," Martin said. "I think the Holy Spirit is very creative, and I think He's calling forth these gifts."
Having Called and Gifted teams specific to each family is important because they will know exactly how their family is trying to unleash the Gospel, Martin said.
When people discern their charisms, they are filled with joy, Martin said, and it gives people the energy and desire to share their gifts and give back to the family and surrounding communities.
"There are so many people who need to hear that Jesus loves them, that the Catholic Church has a place for them, that we want to walk with them in their hearts, in their fear and their anxiety. This is a message that all lay people can participate in," Martin said. "And charisms are just one way that we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit, individually, in our own families and our communities and parishes. So it's only one way but it's a mighty way."