Synod dates, leadership announced as initiative ramps up

Archdiocese to gather Nov. 18-20, 2016, to strategize on evangelization

Detroit — The 11th general synod of the Archdiocese of Detroit will take place Nov. 18-20, 2016, and will be just one part of a larger, ongoing initiative Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron hopes will help “change the culture” of the archdiocese and promote an evangelizing mindset for years to come.

The dates of the synod, which seeks to advise the archbishop on broad new strategies for evangelization, were revealed by Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Byrnes and Msgr. Robert McClory, moderator of the archdiocesan curia, during an Aug. 26 webinar with chancery staff in downtown Detroit.

“A couple years ago, the archbishop asked me to help lead an initiative to help the archdiocese embrace the New Evangelization,” Bishop Byrnes said. “A synod is a way for the whole archdiocese to have a conversation that’s guided by the Holy Spirit to begin new initiatives and embrace new ways of doing things. We’re having a synod now to talk about evangelization so that evangelization becomes just a regular part of our everyday life.”

The evangelization initiative and synod coincide with the Jubilee Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis, which starts Dec. 8, 2015, and runs until Nov. 20, 2016, the last day of the three-day synod.

The wide-ranging initiative, of which the synod will be a “milestone, and an important one,” Msgr. McClory said, will include several opportunities for spiritual formation, including a series of nearly 30 Eucharistic preaching-and-worship events, called “Come, Encounter Christ!,” that will take place in every vicariate throughout the archdiocese starting Sept. 30.

Bishop Byrnes compared “Come, Encounter Christ!” to another local ministry, “Awaken,” which features lively music, lighting, preaching and Eucharistic processions. A schedule for “Come, Encounter Christ!” events, which will take place over three consecutive nights, will be made available on the archdiocesan website,

Other formation opportunities include Revive Detroit, an urban evangelization series that began Aug. 20 and will continue with workshops in September, and programs such as Alpha and ChristLife, which seek to reintroduce people to the person and mission of Jesus. Msgr. McClory noted that the Archdiocese of Detroit will become the first diocese in the country to offer the Alpha program to its chancery employees, starting this fall, in addition to parish-based programs.

While many programs are being offered, Msgr. McClory stressed that the evangelization initiative is “not about a program or a membership drive.”

“We don’t have just one program everybody has to do, but we have about a thousand flowers in bloom,” Msgr. McClory said. “The diocese isn’t saying, ‘You have to do this one.’ We’re providing all sorts of opportunities for people to be involved.”


Synod leadership

As planning for the synod enters its preparatory phase, Msgr. McClory said, groups and teams are being formed to guide the progress of both the synod and overarching initiative.

Msgr. McClory said Msgr. Ronald Browne, director of the Metropolitan Tribunal, has been appointed by the archbishop as secretary of the 2016 synod. In that role, Msgr. Browne will lead the synod secretariat, which is tasked with coordinating and bringing together many aspects of the canonical gathering.

Working with Msgr. Browne will be seven people appointed by Archbishop Vigneron as members the synod secretariat: Krista Bajoka, adjunct to the moderator of the curia; Bill Blaul, communications liaison for the Archdiocese of Detroit and Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan; Erik Coules, regional coordinator for pastoral planning for the archdiocese; Jill Haines, associate director of the Office of Real Estate for the archdiocese; Deacon Bill Kolarik, regional coordinator for pastoral planning; Michael Trueman, archdiocesan chancellor; and Danielle Center, office manager of St. Aloysius Parish in downtown Detroit.

Msgr. McClory noted canon law is very specific with regard to “members” of the synod itself, which will include representatives of consultative groups such as the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council, parish representatives, bishops, rectors and those appointed directly by the archbishop. Members will be identified and confirmed in the coming months after consultation with pastors and leadership groups across the archdiocese.


Evangelization teams

Separate from the synod leadership, Msgr. McClory noted the formation of four committees of lay faithful and clergy that will help direct evangelization efforts as part of the broader evangelization initiative. The four committees will focus on the ministries of prayer, clergy formation, family formation and lay pastoral ministry, he said, with a leadership team appointed to guide the broader initiative.

“The leadership team and these four committees have been in place for some time,” Msgr. McClory said. “They existed before the synod, they’re going to exist after the synod. It’s an area we’re going to keep working on.”

Msgr. McClory said a name and branding for the evangelization initiative are in the works are could be announced soon.

Bishop Byrnes said one way for the lay faithful to become involved in the initiative directly is to pray for the success of the initiative and synod in changing hearts.

“This is our work,” he said. “This is the real work of the Church: to extend the salvation of Jesus to every corner of the world, and in our case, to every corner of the Archdiocese of Detroit.”

‘Come, Encounter Christ!’

“Come, Encounter Christ!” is a series of events over three consecutive evenings featuring live music, lighting, preaching and Eucharistic adoration and designed to help spiritually prepare the faithful of the Archdiocese of Detroit for the work of evangelization. It will take place in every vicariate in the Archdiocese of Detroit from October 2015 wthrough March 2016. The first events will take place starting at 7 p.m. at:

St. Genevieve-St. Maurice Parish, Livonia Sept. 30-Oct. 2

St. Mary, Our Lady Queen of Families Parish (St. Dorothy site), Warren Oct. 5-7

Our Lady of the Lakes Parish, Waterford Oct. 5-7

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Troy Oct. 18-20