In ‘unleashing the Gospel,’ Central Services aims to set example

Deacon Kevin Breen, associate director for the permanent diaconate for the archdiocese, helps pick up debris from a lot near Sacred Heart Major Seminary as part of the Life Remodeled cleanup effort in August, one of several volunteer opportunities for Central Services staffers.
Naomi Vrazo | Archdiocese of Detroit

Detroit — Are the joyful missionaries really joyful?

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron posed this question in his pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel, when discussing the role of Central Services in the New Evangelization.

In a work environment filled with priests, deacons and bishops, it might seem rather easy to be a happy bearer of the Christian message in a place where the faith seems ubiquitous.

But Archbishop Vigneron asked Central Services to reevaluate everything it does, ensuring Jesus is truly at the center of archdiocesan central services.

Fr. Jeff Day, the deputy moderator of the curia, knows a lot of the charges in the letter will fall to him over the coming years to ensure Central Services is a place of encounter for all who interact with or work for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

“The New Evangelization Council had a meeting to discuss one of the action steps related to ‘radical hospitality’ here at Central Services,” Fr. Day, who next July will succeed Msgr. Robert McClory as moderator of the curia, told The Michigan Catholic. “We need to see how we are demonstrating radical hospitality. That can take on a whole lot of different dimensions. We’re looking at how any of us in the building answer the phone, how we use email, how we communicate with one another in meetings, how we treat each other in the lunchroom.”

A few months into his new position, the former pastor of St. Fabian Parish in Farmington Hills has been impressed that many of the meetings he’s been involved with start with prayer and that employees have access to an on-site chapel. But he and the New Evangelization Council are continuing to look for ways Central Services can incorporate hospitality into carrying out the mission of the Church.

Even in the day-to-day operation of the Church, hospitality can go a long way, Fr. Day suggested.

“As an example, we discussed how parishes get audited on a regular basis, and I suggested to the auditors that when discussing the audit process, report out the good things a parish is doing in keeping the books,” Fr. Day said. “Rather than just focus on the things that aren’t according to policy, bring up things people are doing well. That is very much a result of the pastoral letter; asking how every person can be moved to greet others in way that is radical.”

Central Services staffers are afforded opportunities for Eucharistic adoration every second Tuesday of the month at the chapel, another way for the Chancery to “lead by example” as a result of the archbishop’s pastoral letter.

Sharon Ozark, who works in Archbishop Vigneron’s office, said she visits the chapel on a regular basis, particularly the noon singing of the Angelus.

“I enjoy the camaraderie we experience every day in the chapel,” Ozark said. “Working at Central Services, I’ve found this peace from being surrounded by faith-filled people. I sometimes take a step back and watch the remarkable work people are doing at Central Services, what’s going on behind the scenes. By going to the chapel, we have a chance to encounter the Holy Spirit, to clear our minds and help us in our work.”

When talking with people on the phone, Ozark tries to tell every person she speaks with she is praying for them, even when the subject of the call can be sensitive. She feels Central Services is a place of encounter, and cautions her coworkers not to miss out on the many opportunities for spiritual growth.

“Everything (Central Services) has done, I’ve take advantage of, from ‘Come, Encounter Christ’ to the Alpha programs to the Synod, it’s just ramping up,” Ozark said. “I realize there is all this stuff that’s happening, but I’d like to see the directors of each department be more visible in leading their people in prayer.

“Maybe at every meeting, we remind people of the prayer opportunities – like the Angelus at noon or Mass at 8 a.m.,” Ozark suggested.

Fr. Jeff Day, deputy moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese of Detroit, smiles as he talks with Central Services staffers in the Chancery’s cafeteria and community room. Part of Archbishop Vigneron’s pastoral letter is addressed to Central Services, which the archbishop says should model the characteristics of “joyful, missionary discipleship” for the rest of the archdiocese.
 Tim Hinkle | Archdiocese of Detroit

In addition to taking time to pray together, Fr. Day encourages Central Services staffers to step out of their comfort zone and take part in volunteer opportunities as a chance to not only preach the Gospel, but live it.

This summer, Molly Gascon, administrative assistant to Auxiliary Bishop Arturo Cepeda, took part in Life Remodeled, a weeklong cleanup project in the neighborhood surrounding Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and Durfee Elementary/Middle School.

“Life Remodeled was a movement like no other; I’d never volunteered with a project that had made such an impact on the community,” said Gascon, who volunteered in dozens of projects with the Diocese of Syracuse, N.Y., where she used to work. “I’m new to the Archdiocese of Detroit, six months in, but I met a lot of people from Sacred Heart Major Seminary and from Central Services. It was a big experience to meet people, learn from people, every corner I turned there was someone from the archdiocese.

“Coming together in service and prayer as Catholics is what the pastoral letter is calling us to do,” Gascon continued. “Volunteering helps us understand the mission as well, to encourage others to be part of it. We need to do more outreach projects, and having them as a community in Central Services will help everyone live out the Gospel, to be the joyful disciples the archbishop is calling us to be.”