In 2019, in response to the Archbishop of Detroit’s message in Unleash the Gospel, the Catholic Foundation was called upon to create the Spirit of Innovation granting fund. The Spirit of Innovation Grant called for Catholic parishes, schools, and organizations in the archdiocese to develop, launch and grow new initiatives, ministries and approaches that share the Good News with all, forming joyful missionary disciples.

The 2022 Spirit of Innovation Grant was awarded to St. Suzanne Cody Rouge Community Resource Center in Detroit for their Synergistic Community Resource Centers project. Based on a scalable model in west Detroit, the project will create and support a network of Catholic Community Resource Centers by empowering parishes and vulnerable communities to cooperatively assess needs, utilize excess facility capacity innovatively and establish a sustainable fiscal structure.

The existing parish-based model in the heart of the Cody Rouge neighborhood uses the building of the previously closed St. Suzanne’s Elementary School to rent classrooms and large spaces, host large community events and provide critical services to children, youth, and families alike.

Several representatives of diverse parishes have reached out to St. Suzanne to model this program and some of its innovations and has begun to structure informal networks of like groups. “Thanks to the Catholic Foundation of Michigan’s Spirit of Innovation grant, we will use these funds to further this mission and this model to create a network to share opportunities with other sites to expand this good work,” shared Steve Wasko, the center’s project director.

The Center is an innovative, creative energizer and convener of programs of services that truly connects a vibrant and spiritual parish with the surrounding neighborhood and beyond, serving as the epicenter of programs for children, families and youth across all aspects of the community. And it does so with guiding principles unique in inner-city ministry: sustainability, partnerships, synergy, green infrastructure and care for creation, holism, and empowerment.

“Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron’s pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel, calls on all of us to not only participate in The New Pentecost, but to witness and proclaim the signs and wonders great and small around us, signs that convince people that Jesus Christ is truly alive. A true example of engaging new bands of joyful missionary disciples across the boundaries of parishes, schools, neighborhoods and communities, and beyond those boundaries is the start-up mission work being undertaken at the St. Suzanne Cody Rouge Community Resource Center.”

Learn more about this inspired project by watching the video below.