We have arrived at the great feast of Pentecost, the culmination of the Easter Season, and in a certain perspective, the high point of the entire liturgical year. Why do I call it a “culmination”? The point, the purpose, and the power of the Resurrection that we celebrate at Easter is the gift of his Holy Spirit that the Risen Jesus gives to all who ask. Pentecost symbolizes the great shift in the disciples when they realized beyond doubt that not only was Jesus alive, but he was living within them; the power of God that had raised him up was now at work within them to raise up the whole human race. The Holy Spirit made them people sent on mission. Without Pentecost, without the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we would never have heard of Jesus, nor his Death and Resurrection – for no one would have told the story, no one would have testified to the amazing love and compassion of God manifested in Jesus.
Pentecost is also the foundation of our lives as disciples, because we too – two millennia later – have access to the same Holy Spirit and all the gifts that the Risen Christ wants us to have. We are called and gifted by the Spirit to take our place in carrying forth the mission of Christ. What an amazing noble call and life we have, what meaning and purpose are offered to us. Pray for the fulness of the Spirit’s gifts in your own life, and in our parish. Are you up for it?!
Our New Family
One of the great movements of the Spirit in our own time is the restructuring of church life in groupings of parishes, here in Detroit called Families of Parishes. I might not have called it a ‘movement of the Spirit’ when it was first announced here in the Archdiocese of Detroit in early 2020, but it is now apparent that this truly is a movement that is sweeping through the Western world. What began as a response to the declining number of priests has turned out to be a movement to refocus parish life and our individual Christian lives on the mission of Jesus, to bring the hope and healing, the joy and consolation of God to our world. Just in our immediate area, since the Detroit announcement similar projects have gotten underway in the nearby dioceses of Cincinnati, Chicago, and East Lansing.
On the very day in 2020 when the Detroit initiative was announced, I contacted our Jesuit Provincial in Chicago to suggest that we should try to form a Family of our two Jesuit parishes so that we could keep our Family focused on the Jesuit spirituality and mission that defines our parishes. That is in fact what came about, so that on July 1 , 2022, our parish will be joined in a Family of Parishes with Gesu Church and School in northwest Detroit. I have mentioned the Family of Parishes initiatives several times in recent months, promising a fuller explanation in the Easter Season. That time has come, for we are now less than a month away from the launch date of our Jesuit Family.
You won’t notice anything different when it happens. But on Sunday, July 31, the feast day of the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius of Loyola, we’ll have our first joint Family event. It happens that Gesu Parish will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Saturday, July 30. To relieve them from planning a second celebration the following day, we’ve invited Gesu parishioners to join our parish for mass on July 31. The following several months will provide time for behind-the-scenes work: the priests of the two parishes will develop a written Covenant outlining how they plan to work together. Gesu’s new pastor, Fr. Lorn Snow, SJ, will arrive on July 1 and will join recently-ordained Fr. Jeff Dorr, SJ, already there, and myself to form the team of priests who will serve our Family.
Other collaborative efforts have already begun from the ground up: joint meetings and discussions have already been occurring between our Green Teams for environmental sustainability, our immigration ministries (“Strangers No Longer”), and our diversity and inclusion committees.
In my next article, I will delve into some of the structural changes that may be part of the Family initiative. But rest assured that in all things, we intend to keep our focus on those changes that will truly help strengthen our two parishes, especially in their living of the Jesuit mission and vision that is our foundation in the life of the Holy Spirit, and our calling to share with the world.