Preparing for Wave 1 Families of Parishes Installation Masses
By Fr. Marc Gawronski
Many of us may have attended the special Mass when a new pastor is installed at a parish. With our transition to Families of Parishes, some Families will come under the care of a team of “Family-Pastors” who share responsibility for all the parishes. In formal terms, this means that each pastor will receive a new assignment letter from the Archbishop naming them “Family-Pastors.”
It also means each Family will celebrate a special Mass to install the Family-Pastors into their new ministry.
The installation of Family-Pastors is an opportunity to make real, in a very tangible way, the new relationships that are being forged as we unite to form our Families: liturgical musicians will come together to rehearse and lead our sung prayer, greeters will extend a warm welcome to visitors arriving to the parish where the Installation will take place, and lectors and eucharistic ministers will come forward to share their charisms.
What follows is a brief overview of the elements that make such a Mass special and unique in the life of the Church.
Presentation of the Family-Pastors
The Order of Installation of a Pastor begins when the bishop presents the pastor to the community (Book of Blessings 2022). Aware of the community’s “pastoral needs” and “confident of the pastor’s qualifications,” he commends the pastor to the parish. In the Installation of the Family-Pastors, all the Family-Pastors will be commended to the members of all the parishes gathered for the installation.
During his homily, the bishop brings the readings to bear on the reality of the “…particular place and the people involved.” This is especially important as this installation of Family-Pastors reflects new relationships for all.
Presentation of the Parish Staff and Pastoral Council(s)
Prior to the Creed and the Universal prayers, two presentations take place expressing the new relationships in the Family of Parishes. The first presentation introduces any priests who are not Family-Pastors, (such as Family-Parochial Vicars), along with deacons and parish staff members. The second presentation is that of the Parish Council. This consultative body exists to facilitate communication and unity among the sibling parishes. During the installation Mass, the Family-Pastors publicly pledge to seek their “counsel, guidance and advice …” in both spiritual and temporal matters.
Profession of Faith
The Family-Pastors, who are “teachers of faith,” face the people and lead them in the Nicene Creed (BB 2029-30). This is followed by the Family-Pastors together professing a solemn oath to uphold all that the Church teaches.
Finally, the Bishop introduces the Universal prayers for the leaders of the Church, the new Family-Pastors, the communities they will lead, for the poor, and that all assembled will “work together to proclaim the good news of Christs love…” (BB 2031)
The bishop draws the Universal Prayers to a close with a concluding prayer which recalls how God “nourished and protected” the Church with pastors who are “stewards of your word and sacraments.” The bishop asks God to strengthen the Family-Pastors and all gathered in following Christ.
The source of that strength then becomes our focus as we prepare for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
The transition to Families of Parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit has brought forth curiosity, excitement, discussion, and dedication from clergy and laity alike. As we draw ever closer to our goal, we can look to the installation of Family-Pastors as another opportunity to provide a solid foundation in the Spirit for the new relationships that will develop in the months and years to come.