Archdiocese offers popular 52 Sundays guide for free online, launches podcast for families

3 mins read
A new reflection guide created by the Archdiocese of Detroit's Department of Evangelization, Catechesis and Schools seeks to offer families a way to spend the Lord's day together in prayer by focusing on the Scriptures, family conversations and meals together. The program, called 52 Sundays, is available in book form or online at (CNS photo/Melissa Moon, Detroit Catholic)

DETROIT (OSV News) — In 2020, the Archdiocese of Detroit released 52 Sundays, a tool to help families reclaim Sunday as a day set apart for God. The resource included a guidebook that offered tips for families to celebrate each Sunday of the liturgical year with the week’s Gospel reaching, a family fun activity, prayers, recipes and an introduction to a new saint.

This year, due to growing interest in the tool, including from outside southeast Michigan, the archdiocese has decided to release 52 Sundays 2023 exclusively online — both in English and Spanish — and free of cost.

In addition, a new podcast — called “Beyond Sunday” — accompanies this year’s guide to help families make the most of the resource.

“We realized the place to start [strengthening families as domestic churches] was Sunday at Mass, and families just needed a tool to help encourage as well as help them go deeper,” Tara Stenger, family ministry coordinator and engagement support, told Detroit Catholic. “So whether a family isn’t really engaged on Sundays and is just looking to do something, or whether they were super engaged and looking to do more, we wanted to create a resource that would meet them wherever they were.”

52 Sundays 2023, available in both English and Spanish, provides the same weekly activities for families as in prior years, Stenger said. Families have always been able to use as much or as little of the content as they wanted, but now families can easily pick and choose which activities are a good fit at the click of a button.

Furthermore, if families preferred a physical copy, they are still given the option to print content to use together, Stenger said.

The “Beyond Sunday” podcast is hosted by Nicole Joyce, associate director of family ministry for the Archdiocese of Detroit, and Rakhi McCormick, mission and outreach director for Guardian Angels Parish and school in Clawson, Michigan. New episodes are released on Tuesdays, looking ahead to the following Sunday.

Joyce and McCormick, both mothers, described themselves as real people “working in the field” — which is to say, their own families.

In each 20-minute unscripted episode, Joyce and McCormick acknowledge the challenges faced by real families and offer encouragement wherever each family is on their journey.

“We want it to be real; we don’t want to focus on lofty goals,” McCormick said. “We want people to be able to feel like wherever they are, there is something for them and that God is already present and working in their family.”

The podcast pulls from the hosts’ own experiences, McCormick said, and includes honest anecdotes of sometimes messy lives.

“There are some true confessions of the ways that we don’t even live up to the ideal,” McCormick said. “We’re really hoping that it’s a breath of fresh air and just life-giving for families to realize that it’s not unattainable for us to incorporate faith into our normal, daily family life.”

Sometimes living liturgically can feel impossible, given the pressures of daily life, McCormick said. That’s a perception the podcast aims to change.

“We want to change, not lower the bar. We want to change the understanding of what it means to incorporate faith into the family,” McCormick said. “It doesn’t always have to be crafts, but if your family likes crafts, that’s good, too. It doesn’t always have to be extra — there are things you already do daily that very much are infusing the faith into your family.”

Moving 52 Sundays completely online helps make this more achievable and accessible for families, Joyce added.

“I really love the added features on the new website where parents can just download one piece of it; you don’t have to have that whole book in front of you if it’s overwhelming,” Joyce said. “If you just want the Gospel, or you just want the recipe or the prayer, you can download or print just that one piece of it and use that.

“We have a lot of parishes that use 52 Sundays as part of their faith formation for their families,” Joyce added. “It’s (now) something they can save as a PDF and email out to families or put in the church bulletin. It’ll be easier to reach a lot more people.”

McCormick admitted that, like many families, some weeks her family uses 52 Sundays, and other weeks it collects dust. But the intention is always there, and the resource remains available even if they skip a week or two.

“My kids love it, and when we do use it, they are the ones who drive it,” McCormick said. “It empowers them as children to take the lead in having us come together as a family and take that intentional time to pray with the Gospel, to consider the questions, to try the recipes or talk about the saint.”

Joyce and McCormick emphasized they aren’t experts, but parents striving like others to bring their families closer to Christ.

“If there’s any wisdom (in the podcast), it’s the Holy Spirit, not us,” McCormick said. “We want this to be a place where we struggle with the real issues that our families are facing, and we help them see where God is present and see how faith is imparted within the realities of our lives, which are messy and not perfect.

“With the podcast, we want to eliminate the feeling that you are sometimes doing wrong as a Catholic parent if you’re not doing all these things with the bells and the whistles,” McCormick added. “You are a Catholic parent, period. You are Catholic. You are a parent. You are a Catholic parent.”

Gabriella Patti is a staff reporter for Detroit Catholic, the official news source of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

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