I mentioned earlier today that the Archdiocese of Detroit was going to make public the recommendations that were being sent to Archbishop Vigneron by a planning committee with regards to parishes. This has much to do with having fewer priests than there are parishes, and many priests are working past age 70.
Here is a page where you can find your parish and what was recommended to the archbishop for consideration. He will make his final decisions in February, at which time we will learn what is to happen.
I'm not at all comfortable with what I read about my own parish, Assumption Grotto in Detroit. It wasn't what I found on page 4, which was this....
2. Assumption Grotto Parish
a. Assumption Grotto’s cluster partner will immediately be St. Cyril and Methodius, located on Ryan Rd. (North of 18 Mile) in Sterling Heights; as they are the closest linked pastorally and in their spirituality.
Ss Cyril & Methodius is a fine parish, and there is some truth to the statement about us being linked pastorally and spiritually. In fact, you see a lot of Grotto parishioners attending events at Ss C&M and you see their parishioners coming to Grotto for events. Some have dubbed Ss C&M "little Grotto" or "Grotto North". I have gone there for daily Mass at times, when I needed something earlier. But, there are differences.
What floored me, is what came next. On page 5 document it reads:
Regarding the cluster partners Assumption Grotto and St. Cyril and Methodius, there is concern that this is not canonically possible. The parish and planning group should instead begin in early 2012 to discuss the closing or merger of Assumption Grotto with a neighboring parish, to be implemented upon the retirement, reassignment or pastoral vacancy of the priest, if a replacement is not available to be assigned. Assumption Grotto must also develop in the first quarter of 2012 a realistic financial plan that addresses how the parish will pay outstanding debt and ongoing payables and submit for approval to the archdiocesan LDP Committee and Finance Council.
Now, keep in mind, these are recommendations going to the archbishop by a committee and he will be further discerning this and making a decision in February.
The Detroit Free Press has this:
The majestic church of Assumption Grotto, on Gratiot at McNichols, is also recommended to merge or close if the current pastor leaves for any reason.
There was a press conference this morning, some coverage, again from the Detroit Free Press.
Archbishop Allen Vigneron said today that proposals to close as many as 48 Catholic churches in Detroit and its suburbs over the next five years are likely to be implemented by him, but are not set in stone.
“I would need a pretty good reason to move away from the recommendations,” said Vigneron, the spiritual leader of 1.4 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Detroit. “It’s not set in stone. New factors may emerge.”
We, for our part, have to take the high road here, pray, hear what our pastor has to say, and hope that there is some alternate plan that the archbishop will accept for Assumption Grotto than the one recommended (with regards to potentially closing it in the "post-Fr. Perrone" era, if it cannot be clustered).
I am going to offer a few thoughts about Grotto.
There is no place else in the Archdiocese of Detroit that offers what Assumption Grotto does. None. St. Josaphat offers the traditional Latin Mass, but the community aspect is quite different. Grotto is booming on Saturdays and Sundays, and you can stop in as you like and go into church. It is open during the week, and their are daily Masses offered, morning and evening with up to 40 people at each Mass. We still have four weekend Masses. There are very public devotions throughout the year, drawing many. On holy days of obligation, the parish church is packed.
While some will say that all parishes can claim to be unique, how many of them can claim to have parishioners who travel from all corners of the archdiocese and beyond for what they experience there? And, if they could get such an experience closer to home, then why would they travel, 30, 60, 90 minutes or more to go to Mass, and attend events during the week. I can't think of many urban parishes that are open and active many days and evenings throughout the week. The old school building gets a real work out and it still amazes me that these are commuters.
Just as there are different religious orders to accommodate different spiritualities, parishes like Assumption Grotto play a role in the life of the Church, yet how many are there? Most urban parishes have liturgies that mirror what is going on in the suburbs. The fact that Ss Cyril & Methodius was the only parish in the Archdiocese of Detroit to have a similar spirituality attests to the fact that there are few such places. While I believe that Arcbishop Vigneron probably understands this, I am not convinced it is understood by lay people making recommendations or others who hold influential positions in the archdiocese.
When there is discussion about diversity, it does not seem to include this form of diversity - that is worship and parish culture that is of a more traditional bent. Assumption Grotto is to some Catholics, what a cloister is to nuns and monks. Shutting down Assumption Grotto is like shutting down a cloister and expecting the inhabitants to get along just fine in the active life.
I never felt at home in a Catholic parish until I found Assumption Grotto in 2005. In fact, I discovered very quickly that how I worshipped had everything to do with how I lived my life. Once I began to truly worship, I started to volunteer my time and donate more generously than I ever have in the past.
This is not about liturgical nostalgia. I was born in 1962 and my only recollections of the Mass growing up, were folk Masses. Even as a child, I longed for sacred polyphony and chant, but it was no where to be found. When I did find a parish that had a choir they were not singing Rheinberger, Mozart, and Palestrina. I'm a contemplative soul and the "Tridentine" Mass offers serious periods of silence, which is so necessary for interior active participation.
I would be more than willing to sit down and talk to the archbishop or anyone else about these things, but that's like being in a football stadium and trying to get the head coach to hear you. It ain't gonna happen.
Be sure to pray for Archbishop Vigneron. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes. Pray for the priests at Grotto and especially Fr. Perrone. Support him in what he asks of us.
With regards to debt, it's truly a pity, that we parishioners at Assumption Grotto ended up assuming the debt of a Catholic school that once belonged to another parish. That, I believe is paid off, but at the expense of not paying off other debts. Today's debt would have been easier to manage, if the debt affiliated with that school had been distributed between other parishes.
*****Oh, and if there are some generous benefactors out there, by all means, call the rectory and ask how you can help us to pay down our debt. It may make the difference of keeping the parish open well beyond the Fr. Perrone era. Go to assumptiongrotto.com for contact info. You might consider donating to our capital campaign which included paying down the debt owed to the archdiocese.
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