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“You Were Born For This.” An Introduction

“The book of Acts ends in chapter 28. Paul is under house arrest in Rome. He is still boldly preaching the Gospel. Luke ends without finishing the story. Why? Because the story of the Church’s mission continues in every age. We are living the 29th chapter of Acts!” (“Unleash the Gospel” Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron).

The Archdiocese of Detroit held a Synod on the New Evangelization in 2016. “That Synod was the ignition spark that is to set the Archdiocese ablaze. Its goal was nothing less than a radical overhaul of the Church in Detroit. They sought a complete reversal of the focus from an inward, maintenance-focused church, to an outward, mission-focused church.” The programmatic implementation of the results of that synod was “Unleash The Gospel.

The crucial question was, “How do we transform this beautiful, Spirit-driven vision to become a concrete reality?”

In Detroit, Acts XXIX became a piece of the “radical overhaul” Synod 16 called for. Acts XXIX was an emerging movement that began to focus on answering that need in Detroit. The goal was to transform people, parishes, and society. This would be done by equipping clergy and pastoral teams to unapologetically and uncompromisingly proclaim the Gospel in the 21st century. It worked. Over the next few years, Detroit began to see that transformation in Catholic culture. Parishioners and parishes began to reclaim the Church’s missional identity.

It didn’t stay there. Over the past few years, Acts XXIX has gone national.

Father John Riccardo is a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He was ordained in 1996. Father John brings solid pastoral parish experience to the table. He served most recently as pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, MI. There, he saw the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. The impact was not only seen in Detroit. It caught the attention of pastors across the country. Father Riccardo is currently Executive Director of ACTS XXIX. He is the host of a new podcast, “You Were Born for This with Fr. John Riccardo” and the radio program “Christ is the Answer”.

What about Philadelphia and St. Monica? There are significant challenges facing of the Church in the 21st Century. Pastors, parishes, dioceses/archdioceses are eagerly seeking a compass and map to respond to the post-Covid situation. “A radical overhaul” will require constant vigilance and courage. We cannot return to our default ways of doing things in the Church, (i.e., maintenance mode). This orientation was recently mentioned by Archbishop Nelson Perez in conversations with his priests. Father Riccardo and the Acts XXIX team have written a compelling vision on what a Catholic parish of the future might look like. I’d like to lay out some of those ideas in the weeks ahead.

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