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Detroit Archdiocese unveils ‘Unleash the Gospel’ missionary movement

DETROIT — What began as a rallying cry for the Archdiocese of Detroit is slowly building into a full-fledged missionary movement called “Unleash the Gospel.”

Inspired by Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron’s 2017 pastoral letter on the missionary transformation of the archdiocese, the movement was being launched at parishes in southeast Michigan the weekend of Nov. 3-4.

It is serving to help the faithful continue in what diocesan leaders called a journey of transformation and spiritual renewal centered on Jesus and the life-changing message of the Gospel.

Hundreds of volunteers were to be dispatched to all 218 parishes. The volunteers were commissioned to encourage parishioners to take up the mission of renewal through a six-day challenge.

The challenge, which includes a digital component, asks Catholics to devote five minutes per day to learn and pray about what it means to be a church on mission filled with joyful, missionary disciples.

“We have heard the Holy Spirit speak clearly of God’s missionary plan for our archdiocese. We are called to go back to the original mission of the Church and to share the good news of the Gospel — to unleash the Gospel — throughout southeast Michigan and beyond,” Archbishop Vigneron wrote in a statement.

At the core of the initiative, which follows the 2016 archdiocesan synod on evangelization, is the need to make the message of salvation readily accessible and available to a culture that often seems to have forgotten Jesus, said Father Stephen Pullis, archdiocesan director of evangelization, catechesis and schools.

“‘Unleash the Gospel’ really is a missionary movement of the Holy Spirit that seeks to invite people to consider how God might be active in our age,” Father Pullis said. “It’s not enough to simply say we believe in Christ. We need to equip evangelizers by inviting people to become joyful, missionary disciples and learning how to share that message with others.”

The archdiocese planned to do that through a multi-pronged effort that includes an overhaul of the way the Church communicates and engages with the faithful, said Edmundo Reyes, director of communications.

“‘Unleash the Gospel’ is a movement,” Reyes said. “Think about what a movement is. At its core, a movement is when something is wrong that needs to be right, and enough people know about it and are willing to do something about it.”

In introducing the initiative and its digital components, 550 volunteers were to visit parishes. Reyes said it was crucial to meeting people on the “digital continent.”

In addition, the archdiocese rolled out a new digital news service and website Oct. 29. Called Detroit Catholic, the service includes daily email, video, audio and social components.

In 2019, the archdiocese plans to launch a separate magazine and online evangelization and faith-formation platform centered on “Unleash the Gospel.”

The archdiocese also planned to introduce a podcast in November and make resources available to parishes to help parishioners becoming bold Christian witnesses.

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