Moving forward together as a band of joyful, missionary disciples

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron

Editor’s Note: Over 20 issues, The Michigan Catholic is bringing you, in bite-sized chunks, Archbishop Vigneron’s pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel. Below is the 20th of 20 excerpts, taken from the letter’s sixth section, “Conclusion.” To read the rest of the letter — or to catch up on sections you’ve missed — visit

“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. … And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47).

This letter ends where it began, in chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles. Here we see the Church living an authentically Christian communal life: following the teaching of the apostles, practicing fellowship and care for one another, partaking in the sacraments, and praying together. And we see how God blesses them by adding to their numbers. We see a mystery, a reality at once human and divine, the created manifestation of the work of the Creator Spirit. The Church is the sacrament of the risen Christ in our midst. She is alive because he is alive. She grows with the vigor and power of his divine life. And her living is not for her own sake but for the sake of her mission. Her Lord sends her to proclaim the good news that “the crucified one has been raised,” just as he was sent by the Father.

In this text from Acts, St. Luke paints a beautiful portrait of the Church in her first days in Jerusalem. Since then, like a flourishing vine, her branches have extended over the face of the whole earth. The Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit is a living branch of this living vine. What St. Luke said of the Church in Jerusalem can be said truly of us. It is as the Church of Christ in southeast Michigan, founded by Christ and alive in Christ, that we take up in earnest the new evangelization.

The unleashing of the Gospel is not something we do individually but a communal task, a work of the whole mystical body of Christ to which we belong. If we are living as a band of joyful missionary disciples, our communal life is itself a radiant witness to the power of the Gospel.

It falls to me as the principal shepherd of this local Church to lead and direct our community in answering the Lord’s call to be about making disciples of all nations. In response to what I have heard the Holy Spirit saying to us in Synod 16, I pledge to make “Unleashing the Gospel” according to the direction of Synod 16 the road map for the years remaining in my ministry as Archbishop of Detroit.

I am firmly convinced that the graces bestowed upon the Church in Detroit in Synod 16 are a great spiritual treasure, riches which the Holy Spirit has poured out upon us for the monumental task that lies ahead. With the help of God I will be a true and faithful steward of these gifts that are the common property of us all for the work that has been entrusted to us all. I am establishing the New Evangelization Council as a permanent body to assist me in assessing the response of the Church in the Archdiocese to Synod 16 and to advise on ways to make continued progress in unleashing the Gospel. In this way I will have the support I need in the discharge of my stewardship. And I look to give annually at Pentecost an accounting of my stewardship of the graces of Synod 16.

As we embark on the missionary transformation of our local Church, a particular companion and intercessor for us is [Blessed] Father Solanus Casey. I see [his beatification] … as an incomparable grace for us: a model for the work of evangelization and a providential sign from God that we are doing his will. In his years of humble service as doorkeeper to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, Father Solanus met everyone who came to him — Catholic or non-Catholic — with the warmth and compassion of Christ. He provided soup for the hungry, kind words for the troubled, and Christ’s healing grace for the sick — always with the good news that in Christ God loves and cares for his world. Father Solanus was a walking proclamation of God’s love. May we follow his example! Along with him, we also have as heavenly partners Our Lady, the Star of the New Evangelization, and our archdiocesan patroness St. Anne. You might also have your own personal companion; mine for the new evangelization is St. Bernadette of Lourdes, who courageously and humbly carried out God’s mission for her even in the face of formidable opposition.

Where will the Archdiocese of Detroit be in twenty years? My hope is that it will be a community of joyful missionary disciples and of saints united in Jesus — that there will even be a whole host of causes for beatification! — and that southeast Michigan will be a place of the manifest presence of God. We are a local Church in movement, and I invite every member of the Church to join in as we follow where Christ leads. Not only the destination but the journey itself is reason for encouragement and joy in the transformative power of the Gospel. As Father Solanus always said, we thank God ahead of time for what he is doing for us.

This section concludes the printing of Archbishop Vigneron’s pastoral letter in The Michigan Catholic. To catch up on sections you’ve missed, visit

Reflection question

Who is my “heavenly partner” in evangelization? What can I do today to start on my own path to becoming a saint?