In the spring of 2022, Fr. Robert Assaly and the vision team at St. Willibrord’s in Verdun discerned that the Spirit was moving them to transform their parish from maintenance to mission. The parish was seriously struggling after the pandemic, averaging just 25 to 30 parishioners every Sunday. The job of transformation is a big one, so Fr. Robert reached out to Fr. Mike, and the result was the creation of our first Missionary Partnership.
St. Ignatius has undertaken to support the revitalization of St. Willibrord’s and the transformation of Verdun through the investment of resources, talent, and experience. At Pentecost, almost 30 people from St. Ignatius discerned a call to leave our parish and go out on mission to St. Willibrord. The group included members of our music and hospitality ministries, Alpha leaders, and more.
In just a few months following the September 25, 2022 launch mass, the partnership has begun to bear fruit. The almost 60 combined parishioners and missionaries have grown to over 120 coming together for mass on Sunday. Each week we welcome new faces and families to Sunday mass at St. Willibrord’s. The leadership teams worked hard to improve the Sunday experience by launching ministries in the areas of hospitality, liturgy, music, and children’s programming. After only four short weeks, Catch the Wave, the children’s program during mass, currently has 16 children registered, compared to only one or two children that could be seen at St. Willibrord’s weekly prior to our partnership.
This is just the beginning at St. Willibrord’s. Beyond wholehearted collaboration, transformation requires continued empowerment of St. Willibrord parish so as to raise up leaders who can reach out and welcome others into a life-giving relationship with Jesus. Genuine and sustainable transformation at St. Willibrord, in Verdun, and across the city requires ongoing investment of time, talent, and prayer. To our knowledge, no other Catholic church in North America has undertaken anything quite like this. Come, Holy Spirit!
Written by Mark LeSauvage, Project Manager of the Missionary Partnership