The Archdiocese of Detroit Wednesday released tentative recommendations for the closing or merging of some area parishes based on the findings of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.
Although no Dearborn parishes are scheduled to close in the near future, there are recommendations for consolidation between the parishes, especially if pastors retire or are reassigned and a replacement is not available.
Parish planning groups, made up of mostly lay people, submitted their findings to Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron. According to a story in the Detroit News, the recommendations for the Metro Detroit area’s 270 parishes include:
“Nine parishes would close within five years.
60 parishes would merge down to 21, resulting in 39 fewer parishes.
Seven church buildings would also close.
Eight parishes would 'cluster,' meaning four would share a pastor and administration.
28 proposals call for new or expanded ministries or regular events for youths and young adults.
17 proposals would allow parishes to cooperate on establishing new or expanding outreach service programs, including food and clothing pantries.”
The APC recommendations break down the Dearborn churches into three groups. Within the groups are Dearborn Heights and Detroit churches where consolidations may occur.
Here are some of the recommendations for each group taken from information on the archdiocese website:
- St. Cunegunda, Detroit
“The parishes of Group 1 exist within a neighborhood heavily populated by Muslims and face considerable decline in Catholic population. Therefore, the parishes in this planning group should begin in early 2012 to develop plans as outlined below, to be submitted by July 2012, and to be implemented upon the retirement or reassignment of a pastor if a replacement is not available, or when a parish begins to experience a net operating deficit.
St. Cunegunda, St. Barbara and St. Alphonsus should develop a transition plan to include merging at least one site.
The Hispanic Ministry at St. Cunegunda should continue with the parishes of the Central Region due to their close proximity, and be integrated into the Hispanic Plan for the Central Region. This may result in a transition or different alignment with a neighboring parish.
St. Clement should continue as is for now, based on its sacramental activity and the fact that 73 percent of its households live within its parish boundaries. Further, it will need to continue to serve the ministry needs of nearby Henry Ford Retirement Village. However the parish also needs to develop a cluster partner relationship with a neighboring parish such as St. Joseph or St. Martha, to be implemented upon the retirement or reassignment of the pastor, if a replacement is not available.”
- St. Anselm, Dearborn Heights
- St. Linus, Dearborn Heights
- St. Mel. Dearborn Heights
- St. Sabina, Dearborn Heights
The planning group found:
“St. Anselm and Divine Child would like to enter into a 'cluster' relationship. DC and St. Anselm share many parishioners in each other’s boundaries, as well as sending many students to DC high school. Pastors and Parish Councils will schedule a meeting by the 1st quarter in 2012 to initiate discussions as to opportunities to develop a plan.
Sacred Heart Parish is not in Group 3. St. Anselm borders contiguously to Sacred Heart, as well as sharing many parishioners. Divine Child also has a major North-South border with Sacred Heart at Telegraph, and also shares many parishioners who cross Telegraph to go to each other’s masses."
"Divine Child and St. Anselm, possibly to include Sacred Heart should begin in early 2012 to develop plans as outlined below, to be submitted by July 2012, and to be implemented upon the retirement or reassignment of a pastor if a replacement is not available, or when a parish begins to experience a net operating deficit.”
- St. Sebastian, Dearborn Heights
- St. Albert the Great, Dearborn Heights
- St. John the Baptist, Dearborn Heights
The planning group found:
"The group recommends maintaining the grade schools of Sacred Heart and St. Sebastian.
St. John the Baptist and St. Albert the Great will cluster and then merge into one canonical parish with two worship sites upon the retirement, illness, death, or reassignment of St. John’s pastor.
The parishes of St. Martha and St. Joseph have already clustered and share one priest, and have recently decided to merge into one canonical parish with two worship sites.
Although all six parishes are considered financially stable, if there are no longer enough priests to pastor all of these parishes, then the clustered parishes of St. Martha and St. Joseph may cluster with Sacred Heart (all three parishes are in Dearborn); while the parishes of St. Albert the Great and St. John the Baptist may cluster with St. Sebastian (all three parishes are in Dearborn Heights).
It is recommended that all six worship sites remain open to maintain a visible sacramental presence in this community.
The parish leadership will meet in early 2013 to study the administrative challenges to minimize costs, optimize quality of services and reduce the administrative burden on our
priests. In addition, these parishes do not see a need to reduce staff.”
“From a strategic perspective, recommend acceptance of this planning group’s proposal that St. Albert the Great and St. John the Baptist formulate a merger plan by January 2013, to be implemented upon the reassignment or retirement of either pastor. Further, recommend that this merger result in only one worship site.
Recommend that Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s, both located in Dearborn, begin discussions on how best to collaborate with each other.
In addition recommend that St. Sebastian begins collaboration discussions with St. John the Baptist.
Therefore, the parishes in this planning group should begin in early 2012 to develop plans as outlined, to be submitted by July 2012, and to be implemented upon the retirement or reassignment of a pastor if a replacement is not available, or when a parish begins to experience a net operating deficit.”
More information on the APC report can be found on the archdiocese website.