How Families of Parishes Continue Our Mission to Unleash the Gospel
For many, when faced with change or new challenges, our first instinct is to turn to a trusted companion for advice and support. As we embark on establishing Families of Parishes in the Archdiocese, we can find comfort and guidance from our neighbors, from Jesus, and from our leaders. Throughout all this, we should also recall that Unleash the Gospel has been the roadmap this far, and the insight of our Archbishop will keep us strong on the path to create in southeast Michigan a band of joyful missionary disciples.
So, when looking at Families of Parishes through the eyes of Unleash the Gospel, what do we see?
The effort to Unleash the Gospel is a collaborative one.
Archbishop Vigneron writes, “The unleashing of the Gospel is not something we do individually but a communal task, a work of the whole mystical body of Christ to which we belong. If we are living as a band of joyful missionary disciples, our communal life is itself a radiant witness to the power of the Gospel.” (Unleash the Gospel, Marker 6)
Through Families of Parishes, our opportunities to live communally will be much greater. Evangelization experiences will extend to new people within community boundaries, more expansive fellowship, worship, and ministry events will be available, and resources and initiatives will come forth from more collaborative parish environments.
The relationship between those evangelizing and those we hope to evangelize is, in itself, collaborative. When we understand what those in our communities are desiring, we can help them discover how to find it in Jesus, and when we pair our evangelization efforts with ministers and other coworkers in our local vineyard, we can more fully understand the needs of our communities, and therefore inspire more encounters with Jesus.
Evangelization is part of the Church’s DNA.
“We learn to give and receive God’s love in and through our relationships with one another” (Unleash The Gospel Marker 3.1). Families of Parishes enable us to establish and nurture new relationships as a family. We are no longer isolated parishes; rather, we will become one complementary family.
The expansion of our parish communities and networks allows for a new reach, spreading the kerygma and love of God to new corners of our archdiocese. It is through this greater connection that we answer Jesus’ call “ to employ new methods and a new fervor in unleashing the Gospel” (Unleash the Gospel Guidepost 5).
Consider Families of Parishes in the Encounter/Grow/Witness paradigm set forth in Unleash the Gospel. This will, in essence, allow for parish staff and ministers to be the most effective witnesses possible, in order to provide for more intentional growth and to better facilitate those life-changing encounters.
Missionary growth begins here.
Families of Parishes will strengthen both the ordained and non-ordained Church for mission by enabling greater collaboration. The charge to “build a culture of life-changing personal encounters with Jesus that permeates every aspect of parish life and that leads to a loving encounter of our neighbor” (Unleash the Gospel Action Step 2.1) will be met with strategic attention to longstanding best practices, with identifiable and practicable charism strengths in a parish, and will enhance the quality of parish ministries.
As we renew our structures to be radically mission-oriented, we welcome in all those who have a hunger for Christ, especially those who have not yet met Him. In sharing His love and sacrifice to those in our greater communities, we lay the foundation to equip those new individuals to soon bear great witness to the Risen Christ and, in turn, become missionary disciples as well.
The Families of Parishes method is a reignition of our missionary goal. We need not fear change or uncertainty, as we know that we are meant for such a time as this, and the path of evangelization may change, but we can rise to the call, drawing inspiration from our roadmap on the journey, Unleash the Gospel.