DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A group of lay faithful are set to gather from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, May 7 outside Detroit's Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, to call on Abp. Allen Vigneron to reopen the archdiocese of Detroit.
Organizers of "Operation Be Not Afraid" said in a press release: "We intend to send a clear message that we want our churches, our sacraments and our Body of Christ!"
The archbishop suspended public Mass on March 13, 2020. Since then, many Detroit parishioners have reported that their phone calls and e-mails to their priests or to the chancery have gone unanswered, noting that abortion mill lines remain open.
The homepage of the archdiocese website does not give information about the reopening of Detroit parishes although buried in a letter to "lay faithful" dated May 4, the archbishop said:
While we do not yet have a firm date when it will be safe to resume public gatherings here, please know that we continue to monitor the incidence of coronavirus in southeast Michigan and are following the lead of local health officials and civil authorities. We will resume public Masses and other parish events when we are confident that doing so will not pose undue risk to the health and well-being of the members of our community.
One of the organizers of the operation, Patricia Stephanoff, states: "Early Christians risked their lives for the Mass. We expect no less of our Church leaders."
Cowardice in the face of disease and bravery in standoffs with the state have come more and more into daily conversations of laypeople around the world in the wake of COVID-19.
In a recent interview with Church Militant, Kevin Wells, author of the bestseller The Priests We Need to Save the Church, said: "It's my firm belief that a priest must wake up each morning wanting to die for both the Church and for his flock. It's the burden of his identity. He is Jesus Christ, the mediator who was crucified."
"I believe that the holy work of the bold and heroic priest will help to convert the world," Wells continued. "When his flock recognizes in him a willingness to die for them, conversion naturally unfolds."
Wells' own uncle, Msgr. Thomas Wells, was murdered in connection with his job of cleaning out a priests' house of ill-repute. He was said to have led more than a dozen men to the priesthood and spiritually enriched the lives of thousands of Catholics.
Lynn Mills, also organizer of Operation Be Not Afraid and pro-life advocate, echoes Wells' belief, saying to Abp. Vigneron in the press release: "We expect you to show the courage of Christ. Be our shepherd," adding, "We need holy boldness in our leaders."
"We need the hands that have touched the hands of Christ through unbroken succession," she said.
Operation Be Not Afraid takes its name from Pope St. John Paul II's 1978 inaugural homily:
Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ's power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind. Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To His saving power open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid.
The name is also a double entendre, as it addresses both the laity to join in the gathering and the priests that they will not fear to do their jobs as priests.
The archdiocese of Detroit was once one of the most vibrant dioceses in the country in the mid-20th century. Multiple Sunday Masses were filled to capacity. A Detroit Catholic layperson who heard news of the May 7 gathering, exclaimed, "Good! Making that old beautiful cathedral on once-mighty Woodward great again!"
Organizers have asked participants to bring Rosaries to pray for the archbishop.
Blessed Sacrament Cathedral is located at 9844 Woodward near Boston Boulevard in Detroit.