DETROIT (WWJ) - A group of Catholics tasked with coming up with a long-term plan for the Archdiocese of Detroit is recommending nine churches close in the next five years.
These reorganization recommendations were made by a panel of non-clergy who looked closely at each parish -- things like membership, baptisms and funerals.
Another close look, according to Archbishop Allen Vigneron, was taken at finances.
"We have some that are in great financial condition, and we have others that can't pay their bills, and that's a problem," he said.
WWJ's Marie Osbourne reports some of Metro Detroit's most prominent churches are on the list.
Below are the parishes which have been recommended for closure over the next five years:
St. Donald Parish, Roseville – The parish planning group proposed, and the APC concurred, that St. Donald Parish would close upon the retirement of its pastor in 2012.
St. Maurice Parish, Livonia – Already clustered with St. Genevieve (the two parishes share a pastor), the parish planning group has proposed, and the APC has concurred, that St. Maurice should merge with St. Genevieve by June, 2012, and the St. Maurice site would close.
St. Elizabeth Parish, Wyandotte – The parish planning group has proposed that St. Elizabeth should merge with St. Joseph Parish in Wyandotte in 2012 and close the St. Elizabeth worship site. The newly merged parish would further consider merging with St. Patrick to create a new parish. This two-step process has been accepted by the APC, pending some further considerations.
St. Anthony (Lithuanian) Parish, Detroit – The parish planning group has proposed that St. Anthony Lithuanian Parish merge with Divine Providence (Lithuanian) Parish in Southfield in 2013. The APC has asked for further analysis on the possibility of the St. Anthony church building being used by Holy Redeemer Parish.
Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Harper Woods – The parish planning group proposed, and the APC concurred, that the church property should be placed on sale in 2012 and the parish would close upon the sale of the property.
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in River Rouge or St. Francis Xavier Parish in Ecorse – The parish planning group has proposed, and the APC has concurred, that the two parishes should merge and close one of the worship sites by June 2012.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish or St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Wyandotte – The parish planning group has proposed, and the APC has concurred, that the two parishes should merge and close one of the worship sites within three to five years.
St. Luke Parish in Detroit – The APC has recommended that St. Luke Parish should plan to close and the community would merge with St. Mary of Redford Parish in Detroit.
St. Leo Parish in Detroit – The APC has recommended that St. Leo Parish should plan to close and merge with St. Cecilia Parish in Detroit.
Several othere churches in Detroit are also being asked to merge. The Church of the Madonna, St. Gregory and Blessed Sacrament Cathedral are recommended to merge with St. Benedict in Highland Park; Sweetest Heart of Mary, St. Josaphat Catholic Church and St. Joseph near Eastern Market could completely close; The parishes of Nativity, St. Charles, Good Shepherd and SS. Augustine-Monica could eventually merge.
St. James Church on Woodward in Ferndale has been a landmark for decades and at one time had thousands of students in its K-12 school. Now, it's among 60 parishes that are being asked to merge.
Also in Oakland County, St. Dennis in Royal Oak, St. Vincent Ferrer in Madison Heights, and St. Mary Magdalen and St. Justin, both in Hazel Park, could consider merging as their pastors retire or move on. Our Lady of LaSalette in Berkley and Our Lady of Fatima in Oak Park could face similar fates.
In western Wayne County, the panel recommended merging Our Lady of Grace and St. Sabina in Dearborn Heights, and St. Hilary with St. Robert Bellarmine in Redford Township. In Westland, Divine Savior, St. Theodore and St. Damian could plan to merge; and in Dearborn, St. Barbara and St. Alphonsus could merge.
In Macomb County, St. Veronica and St. Basil in Eastpointe could merge, as well as St. Louis and St. Hubert in Harrison Township.
These recommendations, formed through the parishes themselves and reviewed and amended by a group of mostly lay advisers called the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, will be reviewed in the next several weeks by Archbishop Allen Vigneron.
The final "Together in Faith" plan is expected to be released in February.
A statement from the Archdiocese, which represents approximately 1.3 million Catholics in the Detroit area, says the recommendations focus on seven mission priorities defined by the parishes and leadership of the archdiocese over the past decade: evangelization and catechesis; Christian service outreach; youth and young adult ministry; lay leadership; stewardship and administration; Catholic education; and vocations awareness.
Other recommendations include:
--60 parishes are proposed to merge down to 21, resulting in 39 fewer parishes. Also during this time period, seven worship sites are proposed to close. Additionally, a number of the worship sites impacted by the merging process would likely close.
--Four parish cluster arrangements, involving eight parishes, are proposed.
--28 proposals would offer new or expanded ministries or regular events for youths and young adults.
--17 proposals would allow parishes to cooperate on establishing new – or expanding current – programs for Christian outreach services, including food and clothing pantries.
--19 proposals would form multi-parish initiatives to strengthen vocation awareness.
--23 proposals would establish new, multi-parish teams or initiatives focused on inviting non-Catholics and inactive Catholics into/back into the church.
--17 proposals would offer new prayer devotions and/or special services (e.g., monthly prayer services, adoration chapels or area-wide Masses to pray for vocations).
--Four proposals would expand Hispanic-focused ministries to more groups of parishes.
--Nine proposals would allow multiple parishes to collaborate on new marketing and/or funding initiatives in support of Catholic schools.
Archbishop Vigernon said he will make his final decision, based on the recommendations, in early 2012.
The chairman of the Pastoral Council, Edward "Chip" Miller, encouraged parishioners with questions to call (313) 237-5971 or email TogetherInFaith@aod.org.
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