DETROIT (WXYZ) — Catholics are facing change. Wednesday the Archdiocese of Detroit announced it is restructuring its churches, grouping its 216 parishes into 51 families of churches.
The goal is to address a shortage of priests and the economic pressures of the pandemic.
“We had been talking in the past about what we needed to do to address the priest shortage but thought we could keep going for a while, then the pandemic happened and it was time to move now," said Deacon Mike Houghton, Director of Missionary Strategic Plans at the Archdiocese of Detroit. "We like to look at it like Saint Paul, who was shipwrecked three times, who each time said this isn’t where I wanted to be, but I will go from here and make it work.”
Houghton says church leaders started looking into how to restructure years ago. They have seen projections that over the next decade the Archdiocese of Detroit is projected to have about 90 fewer priests.
He says by creating families of churches, churches will be able to share resources and programs. The hope is that priests will be able to focus more on worship and the sacraments, by delegating tasks across several churches.
“When you bring parishes together you have the opportunity for efficiencies for doing things better, for using less resources to do the same things, and for diverting resources for new opportunities,” said Houghton.
“The hope is that as these families help parishes become more vibrant, they become more attractive to people,” said Msgr. Chuck Kosanke, Basilica of Ste. Anne de Detroit and Most Holy Trinity Pastor.
Msgr. Kosanke says church members will not see changes right away. Come summer the new church families will meet and make plans on a family by family basis.
“So this summer they will get together and say, okay, how do we implement this playbook that makes sense for us. Because what makes sense in Monroe, might not make sense in Lapeer or Detroit,” he said.