Detroit — Good Shepherd Parish and Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish on Detroit’s east side will merge into a new, single parish effective Jan. 11, according to a decree issued by Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron on Dec. 17.
The new parish, which will be called Our Lady Queen of Heaven-Good Shepherd Parish, joins the two neighboring communities under a new, single canonical entity.
Good Shepherd Parish has approximately 115 parishioner families, while Our Lady Queen of Heaven has approximately 196.
In addition to the decree merging the two parishes, Archbishop Vigneron issued a decree reducing Good Shepherd Church to the status of an oratory, which means it can be used for weddings, funerals and special events, but not weekly Mass.
Fr. Michael Nkachukwu, pastor of the two parishes, said Good Shepherd would continue to operate as a “special chapel” for about a year until a final determination is made regarding its status.
“A church which continues to function as a chapel cannot be alleged to be ‘closed’ in the final sense of the word,” wrote Fr. Nkachukwu in a letter to parishioners. “However, if there continues to be a lack of sustained interest by its alumni and/or other stakeholders to continue to keep it open, including those who have now made their way to other churches as members, then her doors may finally be shuttered.”
Fr. Nkachukwu called the merger “emotional” and urged parishioners to pray for the success of the merger.
“Above all, let us continue to keep that date (Jan. 10) in our thoughts and prayer, because without God nothing of lasting value can be achieved,” he wrote. “Let us not relent in our prayer. The future is bright for those who trust in the Lord.”
A final Mass is scheduled to take place at Good Shepherd Parish at 10 a.m. Jan. 10, with Auxiliary Bishop Donald F. Hanchon presiding.
Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish was founded in 1929, while Good Shepherd Parish was founded in 2006 as a merger of four east-side parishes: Annunciation, Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Anthony and St. Rose of Lima. Good Shepherd is at the former Annunciation Parish site.