February 1, 2013

Faithful in Macomb, St. Clair county parishes prepare to evangelize

Already among the seven mission priorities of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Archbishop Allen Vigneron is increasingly emphasizing the importance of the New Evangelization to the future of the Church in southeast Michigan. “We need to help those already active in the Church to grow in their faith, and we need to try to bring back to the active life of the Church those who aren’t currently with us on Sunday,” said the Archbishop. Pastors and lay leaders in the Blue Water Vicariate have a head start toward that goal, as they continue collaborating to ensure evangelization is a shared priority among the vicariate’s ten parishes and 15 worship sites.

Coordinated evangelization efforts in the Blue Water Vicariate started in 2011 through the Together in Faith pastoral planning process. “Though our parishes are just minutes and miles apart, as parish representatives we realized we didn’t know much about each other,” said Kym Nummer, a parishioner at St. Mary Queen of Creation in New Baltimore and member of the Blue Water Vicariate Evangelization Committee. “However, we share the most important thing in life – our Catholic faith,” she continued. “Together in Faith enabled us to get to know our brothers and sisters in leadership at the other parishes in our area, and we found we shared a commitment to bring salvation through the faith to as many people as we can in our area,” she continued.

The small group initiated a “travelling Mass” last year in which six of the vicariate parishes welcomed the faithful from other area parishes to attend Mass on a selected weekend to worship together. That familiarity led to the formation of a 20-member vicariate evangelization committee based at Holy Family Parish in Memphis. “While the assignments of pastors and priests can change, we want the faithful to focus on attending Mass, reconciliation, and fully participating in all the sacraments” said Randy Husaynu, Director of Evangelization at Holy Family and St. Augustine in Richmond. “We want to help parishioners ensure their faith is firmly anchored to one Catholic Church, with the Archdiocese of Detroit as our home, and our parishes as worship communities are where our sacramental and ministerial lives are grounded,” he added.

About 100 area parishioners interested in helping others to know Jesus Christ attended an October workshop, “Moving Parishes from Maintenance to Mission”. In November, more than 180 parishioners from the Blue Water Vicariate attended a “Called and Gifted” evangelization workshop at Holy Family. “Called and Gifted”, from the St. Catherine of Siena Institute, helps individuals discern their charisms – gifts given in baptism to be used in the mission of sharing Christ with the world. “They’re doing great work and they’re doing it the right way,” said Judith Maten, Associate Director of Office of Evangelization and Catechesis at Archdiocese of Detroit. A second session of “Moving Parishes from Maintenance to Mission” was held in December, and a third gathering will be scheduled in early 2013. Parishes in the Blue Water Vicariate are among the leaders in using archdiocesan-sponsored workshops and the “Called and Gifted” program to help parishioners understand their gifts, what God wants them to do, and the paradigm shift necessary for parishes to go about intentionally forming disciples,” Maten added. “This ongoing commitment among pastors, priests, and lay leaders in the Blue Water Vicariate will help parishioners build their personal relationship with Christ and become missionaries for Christ, which we are all called to do.”

Blue Water Vicariate Parishes

  1. Holy Family – Memphis
  2. Holy Trinity – Port Huron
  3. Immaculate Conception – Ira Township
  4. Our Lady on the River – Marine City
  5. St. Augustine – Richmond
  6. St. Christopher – Marysville
  7. St. Edward on the Lake – Lakeport
  8. St. Mary – Port Huron
  9. St. Mary – St. Clair
  10. St. Mary Queen of Creation – New Baltimore

The Blue Water evangelization committee is committed to form disciples parish-by-parish. “Bringing people into a relationship with Christ is a process of conversion and mentoring,” Husaynu said. “This doesn’t happen overnight, but we’re very pleased with the numbers of parishioners showing an interest,” he explained. “You can sense a renewal among the people – they’re becoming more active, and some are starting to invite their friends to come back to the Church. It’s an encouraging start.”

While area-wide increases in Mass attendance and reconciliation have not yet occurred and may take years, Nummer is confident it will happen. “We’ve just started our formation, building the foundation,” she said. “We’re building a new base and getting ready to go out and make disciples. We want to do things like concerts and workshops on a larger scale with all of our parishes participating,” she concluded.

In his pastoral letter, Forward in Hope to Share Christ, Archbishop Vigneron stated, “The Catholic Church performs many important services to the world, but first among them is making Christ known as widely and deeply as possible. When we evangelize, we share in Christ’s work of salvation.”

Changing Lives Together is a series of parish campaigns to generate resources to fulfill parish-developed plans and priorities. Learn more about the initiative in your parish.