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Together in Faith

Together in Faith

"Together in Faith,” Strategic 5-Year Plan for Parishes and Schools in the Archdiocese of Detroit
Please go to the Archdiocesan site for general information.

Our three parishes of Holy Cross, St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Mark Church officially merged on July 1, 2007, to become Our Lady on the River Parish.  Information on links on the process are provided on this page.

Parish Merger Update, February 18, 2007

Welcome– Our Lady on the River

As was announced this past weekend, Cardinal Maida, Archbishop of Detroit, with the consultation of the Presbyteral Council (priest advisory board), have approved our request for a parish merger and new parish name. Over the coming months, you will begin to both see and hear this change become more and more a reality in the life of our parish. From this day forward, when you hear or read an announcement about a ‘parish function’- this will indicate that the function is being done on behalf of all three sites. Likewise, if the function or activity is being done locally at only one location, you will hear just the church/chapel announced. I certainly appreciate your cooperation and patience during this process, and I am certain that this will bring many blessings to our faith life. Welcome to the family - Our Lady on the River.

How did we get where we are:

On the weekend of December 2-3, the First Sunday of Advent, at all of the Masses, we will vote for our new parish name.

Pastoral Letter on the Merger of Holy Cross, St. Catherine and St. Mark (November letter from Fr. Tim)
As announced on several occasions (bulletin articles, letters, and announcements at Church) throughout the past year, our three parishes (Holy Cross, St. Catherine and St. Mark) will be moving from a cluster model to a merged parish. How did we get here? I will give a brief timeline of events, with the understanding that many discussions, consultations  and the completion of many plans will not be included in this timeline [read more. . .  pdfimage]

New Parish Name Update From the pastor, Father Tim Birney: (reprint from Parish bulletin November 19, 2006) As was announced for several weeks, we are in the process of choosing a new parish name for our soon-to-be merged parish (while still retaining our individual church names). We received over 60 suggestions from people of the parish over the past three weeks. The Parish Council met last Monday and prayerfully narrowed the list down to three names. Those names are:

  • St. Peter the Fisherman
  • Our Lady of the River
  • St. Clare du Lac (French for ‘of the water or lake’)

As you can see, each of these names have the common theme of the water, specifically, our beloved St. Clair River, which we all share in common. This was not an easy process for the Parish Council, but all the members feel good about the process that we utilized for this determination, and now look forward to the ‘vote’ of the people. What is next?

For the next two weeks, I would like everyone at each of our sites, to prayerfully reflect on these three new potential names. Spend time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to assist you in your discernment. On the weekend of December 2-3, the First Sunday of Advent, at all of the Masses, we will vote on one of these three names as our new parish name. The results of the vote will be announced on the following weekend (December 9-10). Again, the vote will only take place at the weekend Masses of December 2-3. I am very thankful to all of you who submitted suggestions, and I look forward to this next step in our journey towards a merged parish. Keep up the positive attitude and prayerful spirit.

From the pastor, Father Tim Birney: (reprint from Parish bulletin October 15, 2006) As I have mentioned on several occasions, our three parishes will be merging into one parish– comprised of two Churches (Holy Cross & St. Catherine) and one Chapel (St. Mark). As you will hopefully all recall, this has been over a year long process, prompted by the Archdiocese of Detroit re-organization plan, Together in Faith. A review of how we arrived here: The process began with the input and direction of each parishes Parish Pastoral Council. Each was asked to complete an extensive self-study, which focused on three main areas– strategic, sustainable and sacramental. Each parish was shown an Archdiocesan produced video on this at all the weekend masses. Members from the parishes also attended a Vicariate meeting with the Regional Bishop Earl Boyea, and representatives from the Archdiocese of Detroit Central Services. Once the Self-Study was completed, it was sent to our Vicariate Council, which reviewed and endorsed our plan. They in turn sent it forward to the Archdiocesan- Together in Faith Committee, which reviewed the plans from all 300 parishes in the Archdiocese, and then eventually forwarded their recommendations to Cardinal Adam Maida. He promulgated the results of the Together in Faith plan to the whole Archdiocese, and our restructuring was given the timeline of being completed by December 2006.

This was a brief review of the process, obviously there were many more details, discussions, and decisions that went into this endeavor. So what is our next step? Our most pressing matter is to determine what our new parish name will be [remembering that we will STILL RETAIN OUR INDIVIDUAL CHURCH NAMES.] Our timeline and process for the days ahead:

October– all parishioners will be give the opportunity to cast a ballot for a ‘new name’ for the parish. You may cast your ‘ballot’ on a separate piece of paper, and place it in your parish envelope. Please also tell us why you chose that name. Only those ballots placed in a parish envelope will be considered. Please only submit one name per family. This will insure that only registered parish members will be given the opportunity to determine the future of their parish. If you regularly attend mass and do not have envelopes, you can register to pick them up in your parish office. Votes will be accepted until Sunday, October 29, 2006.

November- the members of the Parish Council will review all of the ballots from the parishioners, and distill them down to three potential new names. These three names will be placed on another ballot for all parishioners to vote on.

December– We will announce the results of the final voting to the parishes. Once this has been completed, we will formally petition Cardinal Adam Maida, to re-draw our parish boundaries (which will encompass the present boundaries of all three parishes), and recognize our three sites as one parish that comprises two churches and one chapel. It is hoped that this will be all completed by January, 2007.

I ask that you continue to pray to the Holy Spirit for the inspiration to find peace in this difficult process. Change is never easy for any of us, but I do believe that from change many ‘good things’ can and do happen. If we read the history of all our parishes, and many of you who have lived through this history, will recall or notice that over the span of time, new churches have been built to replace older ones, even new names were given to parishes, new buildings were built, and older ones were torn down, many changes have occurred– yet we are all still here! Pray that we all make this transition with open hearts, and an understanding that even though some aspects of our church are changing, there is still one thing that remains the same– praise and worship of God, through the reception of the sacraments and service through ministry to God’s people.

New Parish Name
 After a careful counting of the ballots with members from the parish council and representatives from each site, our potential new parish name is:

Our Lady of the River

I thank all of you for your prayerful discernment in this process, and I pray that this very important decision will find peace in your hearts. What is next? Nothing is formal and nothing will be changed until we send the appropriate documentation to the Archdiocese of Detroit, so that the Cardinal may officially promulgate our new parish and approve our choice for its name. He will also need to make sure the name is canonically appropriate for a new parish. If there is any problems in this regard, one of the two other names may be chosen: St. Clare or  St. Peter. This will more than likely take about two months to accomplish. I will certainly keep you all informed of the process. (remembering, once again, that we will still retain our individual church/chapel names). Thank you for your patience and understanding. ~Fr. Tim, Bulletin 12/10/06

Parish Merger Update, January 14, 2007
 It has been several weeks since we prayerfully considered and voted on our potential new parish name, so I would like to give you an update on the progress. In    December, I submitted a letter to Cardinal Maida, Archbishop of Detroit, requesting that our three parishes be merged into one parish, comprised of two churches and one chapel. I also requested our new parish name to be: Our Lady of the River, per the vote of the people, or one of our two alternative names, St. Clare du  Lac or St. Peter the Fisherman.

Issue #1: The Parish Merger– this will be addressed at the February 5th Presbyteral Council meeting (a body of priests from the Archdiocese that consults with the Archbishop on various issues within the Archdiocese of Detroit. Having input about closing parishes or founding new parishes is one of their consultative duties. It functions very much like a parish council in a parish.) If all goes well, as I expect it will, they will forward our plan onto the Cardinal for final approval at that meeting.

Issue #2– New Parish Name– there has been much discussion about our choice for a new name from the officials at the Archdiocese. Their first concern is to be consistent with all the parishes within the Archdiocese, since we are not the only place that is seeking a new name, and that we follow proper canonical guidelines. If you remember, I placed in all the parish bulletins in November, an insert in regards to the canonical guidelines when naming a parish*. Canonically, in order to use the title of “Our Lady” for a name, it must be a title for “Our Lady” that is found in the liturgy or Litany of Saints. The bad news is, that ‘Our Lady of the River’ is not found in either. The good news is, after much discussion with Bishop Boyea, our Regional Bishop and other officials from the Archdiocese, we were able to research that since we are only naming a new parish– a geographic boundary, and not a dedicated church building (remembering that we are still retaining all of our individual church names), it is permissible to allow for ‘Our Lady’ in our title—-with one very small change– ‘on the River’, as opposed to ‘of the River’ I know it may seem like a small issue, but they want to make sure they are being consistent and following the guidelines properly. So, once this is all officially and finally approved, which should be sometime in mid– February, we will be a merged parish, with three sites, under the name of “Our Lady on the River”. I hope this has provided some insight into our process, (and not confused you too much). Please continue to pray for all of us during this time of transition, and please keep the positive attitude which has been excellent and appreciated! I will continue to keep you updated.

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