In 1983, Pope John Paul II called for an evangelization that was “new in its ardor, its methods and its expression.” He called for a new evangelization as a way of bringing the Good News to people who had lost their zeal for the faith because the old ways of doing things were not as effective as they once were. And for the past 40 years, the Church around the world has experimented with different ways of making this happen.From this effort came the great pastoral letter Unleash the Gospel (UTG). UTG has guided the missionary efforts here in the Archdiocese of Detroit for seven years now, and it has been read and adopted by several other dioceses around the world as well. It’s a masterpiece of what it means to be a Church on mission.

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.

Photo courtesy of Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic

The 2023 Spirit of Innovation Grant was awarded to UTG At Work, an apostolate that was started in July of 2023 as an outgrowth of the pastoral letter. Its mission is to help women and men live their faith and witness to Christ and the Gospel in the places where they work.

Deacon Mike Houghton

The workplace is one of the most important areas where the new evangelization can and should take place. UTG at Work aims to help that happen by offering podcasts, articles, videos, workshops, and leadership roundtables to give people the tools and encouragement they need to joyfully and confidently live their faith at work.

“We are very grateful for the Spirit of Innovation Grant that we have received. We will use this grant toward Leadership Roundtable discussions where industry leaders share how they live their faith in their workplaces,” shared Deacon Mike Houghton.

The apostolate’s next Leadership Roundtable will be on January 24, 2024, with Dr. Kevin Grady, President and CEO of Ascension Michigan.

“Sometimes it is hard to be authentically oneself at work, especially when one’s co-workers don’t share one’s faith,” said Houghton, who spent 35 years working a secular career in engineering at General Motors.

“You don’t have to check your faith at the door when you leave church on Sunday and pick it up again next Sunday when you come back. This is important to me because, in some ways, I did leave my faith at church during my time at GM. I didn’t have an option,” Houghton said. “As I got further along and became a deacon, I realized it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s not what God told us to do. When he said, ‘Go and make disciples,’ he didn’t have any clauses in there about ‘not at work.’”

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