Behind the Scenes

Because it’s the summer vacation season, you may think there’s nothing much happening in the parish, but in fact there is plenty to keep us busy – but somewhat “behind the scenes.” Several parish committees have been formed and are at work planning for our 175th Anniversary in 2023. Due to the mysterious play of the Holy Spirit, three people have recently appeared unsolicited on our doorstep with historical materials previously unknown to us concerning the earliest days of our parish. These will help our History Committee in producing the small book of parish history we hope to publish for the anniversary. Other anniversary committees are at work on celebrations and parties, as well as community service projects and spiritual growth opportunities.

Also going on behind the scenes are some important discussions about our Family of Parishes.  In this column I recently published three articles explaining this archdiocesan restructuring and grouping of parishes.  (I encourage you to read them here: #1, #2, #3.) July 1 marked the formal beginning of our own Family of Parishes grouping with Gesu, the other Jesuit parish in Detroit. The first phase involves discussions among the priests of our two parishes to set down in writing how we intend to proceed in our own relations, in a required canonical form called the Priests’ Covenant. Over the last two weeks we’ve gotten about half-way through completing that form and expect to finish it by the due date of August 15.


Feast Day Reflections

Last Sunday we celebrated the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, with guests present from every Jesuit institution in the Detroit area.  A big thank you to those who helped make it possible. We had a lovely brunch reception afterwards in the courtyard, funded by the Detroit Jesuit Community through our Superior, Fr. Gilbert Sunghera, SJ; our Operations Director, Lydia Maola, made it all happen. I’ve heard numerous comments that people were moved in spirit, some even to tears, by the singing of the “Suscipe” prayer of St. Ignatius when the Jesuits renewed their dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the end of the liturgy.

Tomorrow, August 6, is the feast of the Transfiguration, recalling the gospel story that tells how the glory of Jesus was revealed to some of his disciples in a visionary experience: “He was transfigured before their eyes; his face became as dazzling as the sun, his clothes as radiant as light” (Mt 17:2). I have always found this scriptural language strangely ironic when it appears in eye-witness accounts of the August 6th (and 9th) first use of nuclear weapons, when the U.S. bombed Japan in World War II. Witnesses reported that the explosion created a blinding light more radiant than the sun – much the same language that is used of the Transfiguration but meaning something horrific and deadly rather than something holy and glorious. Let us pray that the world, like those first disciples, can indeed come to “see” and acknowledge the light and glory of Jesus and his Way of peace, and that we never again see the flash of a nuclear weapon. This past week Russia indicated that it was open to talks with the U.S. about the START nuclear arms treaty, whose temporary extension will expire in a few years.  Let us pray that political leaders can preserve or even strengthen this treaty despite the ongoing war in Ukraine.  For the peace of Christ, let us pray to the Lord.

Finally, August 15 is the feast of the Assumption of Mary.  Since it falls on a Monday this year, it is not a holy day of obligation, and there will be no mass that day at our parish. Writing about St. Ignatius just above reminded me of my sojourn some years ago in his hometown of Loyola, Spain. I happened to be there on August 15 and was surprised that evening when I looked out my window in the building adjoining the Loyola family castle, toward the nearby town of Azkoitia, to see the sky filled with spectacular fireworks.  In that traditionally Catholic culture, Mary’s Assumption is for them as big a celebration as our Fourth of July.  How different Catholic culture is from one country to another!