IF THERE ISN’T ONE IN PLACE ALREADY
1. CO-OPERATION BETWEEN PRIESTS AND PEOPLE
Co-operation between priests and people is vital. Liturgy and especially the celebration of the Mass is influenced very much by the priest who is presider.
In order to get a liturgy group off the ground the priests especially must:
- See the need for it
- Agree to it
- Participate in it, at least as much is necessary.
If they don’t see the need for is how do you handle that:
- Try persuasion: get at least one to agree and co-operate
- Point to feedback on the need for liturgical planning from any consultations or surveys carried out.
- Provide a big occasion where there has to be planning i.e., 25th Anniversary of Church, Redecoration of Church; Easter; Confirmation, etc.
- Use this opportunity to show the benefit of planning, co-ordination and teamwork between all involved.
- Do what you can through your own area of involvement i.e., Choir; Eucharist Ministers; Readers etc, to make a liturgy more special and meaningful.
Who should be part of a Liturgy Group?
How many people are needed?
How should it be formed?
- It is very difficult to get anybody to do anything these days and one is glad to see people offer their services. However in so far as possible it is of use to put some thought into these questions.
How many should be on it?
- From a minimum of five or six to a maximum of twelve.
- Big enough to include many perspectives, ideas and talents
- Small enough to be effective in planning and decision making.
Who should be on it?
- Anyone who expresses an interest and is willing to offer themselves.
- Those with special gifts or talents for example in art, music, drama, dealing with children etc.
- A good representation of those involved in the various ministries: Eucharistic Ministers, Readers, Choirs, etc.
- Those involved in planning the liturgy in any way, even if in an informal way, i.e., those who choose hymns, decorate the altar, organise rosters of service, etc.
If you find it difficult to get people ask why? Why are hey not getting involved? What are the obstacles that are blocking them? Are we or they clear about what will be involved? Is there a lack of confidence or knowledge?
How should it be formed?
- Invite all involved in liturgy, Readers, Eucharistic Ministers, Choirs, Decorators etc., to come to a meeting.
- Ask them how they feel about the way things are done at the moment and what they would think of a more co-ordinated effort.
- Choose representatives from each category involved to be part of the liturgy group using the criteria above.
- Invite all in Liturgy to a Workshop on Liturgy where they would learn a little more about it and begin to see the need for co-ordinated planning.
- Use the opportunity of a big occasion to get all parties involved in liturgy co-operating and planning together in whatever way is good for the particular parish circumstances. If it is a good experience they may want to continue with it, at least for future occasions or indeed for Sunday liturgies throughout the year.
- Select People with particular skills and talents, and who may be involved in liturgy already.
If the liturgy group is to be effective it has to have the support of all in the parish particularly those with a say in Liturgy already.
It has to be an integrated effort between all groups involved in the liturgical celebration.
3. COME TO A SHARED UNDERSTANDING
When you have your group together, whatever method you have used; it is important that they have a shared and agreed understanding of:
- The meaning of liturgy and what we are trying to do in and through the Mass
- The role and purpose of the liturgy group in the parish
- The relationship between the lay people and the priest.
- How far does the decision making ability of the group extend?
- Are they an advisory group or an executive group?
- Are there things they have to leave to the priests etc.?
- How can they or should they take account of the differing styles of different priests?
- The differing gifts and personalities in the group.
- Balance of the group in terms of age, sex, representatives, personality, gifts, geographical representatives etc.
- Resources available, money, people, etc.4. DECIDING ON ACTION
In deciding what to do the group should consider.
- The real needs of the parish and not just what they think is needed
- The resources available i.e., the amount of time energy, skills needed to do something
- How to involve others outside the group in the doing
- What difference will it make to the liturgy and the parish in the long run, 2 yrs, 5 yrs, etc.?
- Decisions should ideally be taken in a collaborative/partnership way i.e., all members should have had an opportunity to have an input even if they don’t all have their way.
5. TAKING ACTION
- If possible, begin with small initiatives for example – concentrate on one mass. It is better to succeed with something small and gain confidence than fail with something more adventurous.
- The liturgy group need time to adjust to new ways of doing things and so do the congregation.
It is important that prayer be a central focus and a continual support for the group in its efforts. It is good if the group spend time in prayer together at their meetings
7. ON-GOING TRAINING AND FORMATION
Continually growing in our knowledge and understanding of liturgy is very important if we are to effective and confident in our task.
This can be done by:
a. Resourcing Ourselves
- Reaching helpful material and sharing in the group our ideas and thoughts
- Being vigilant in recognising resource material ideas and snippets of handy information around us.
- Connect with other parishes in sharing ideas information and skills
b. Outside Help:
- Communicate with the Diocesan Liturgy Commission
- Attend Liturgy Courses in any of the theological colleges
- Invite people with expertise to spend a few sessions with you
- Clear honest and open communication between priests, Liturgy group and all involved in Liturgy, Choirs, Eucharistic Ministers, Readers, Decorators, etc., is essential for success.
Consulting with people and keeping them informed goes a long way to avoid difficulties, misunderstandings and other obstacles to success.
IF THERE IS A LITURGY GROUP ON PLACE
1. EVALUATE AND REVIEW
In order to grow and develop a good place to start is with a review and evaluation of what is happening already. The following questions may be of help:
- How are we doing? Why were we set up in the first place and are we achieving this?
- What has been achieved to date? How alive and meaningful are our liturgies? How do we know? How can we find out
- How effective is the way we operate? i.e. frequency and content of meetings, procedures, planning, decision making etc.
- How well do we co-operate and communicate – among ourselves? With our priests? With the ministries?
- To what extent do we encourage co-operation between groups – choirs etc.?
- Are we enabling and encouraging others to be confident, to take on responsibility and develop themselves through ongoing training, formation, retreats etc.?
- Have we become stale or stagnant? Lacking in ideas?
- How open are we to new ideas?
- Is there need for new blood, new members, change over?
- Are there certain skills and talents that we need but do not have?
- What are the greatest obstacles to further progress and what can be done about them?
- Are we listening to each other and to others?
HOW TO FIND OUT THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS
a. Group Reflection:
- Open and honest sharing and discernment by the group which allows every member an opportunity to give their opinion and is grounded in
- The help of an outside facilitator is always helpful in this.
b. Outside Ourselves
- Ask people in the through surveys, consultation assemblies, consultation at Sunday Mass instead of a homily, ask people informally around the parish.
- Through this evaluation we should be affirmed in our progress and at the same time challenged to develop and improve.
In the light of the review attend to what comes up.
- How can we improve?
- How can we overcome any obstacles to future development?
- What steps can we take regarding the group the way we operate the work?
- What should be our particular focus for the next period?
- What resources do we have available to us within our parish outside our parish?
3. SET OUT GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
- Realistic and achievable goals
- Identify what resources are needed in order to achieve them.
4. PUT INTO PRACTISE GUIDELINES FOR A LITURGY GROUP MENTIONED IN THIS DOCUMENT
- Promote good communication and relationships
- Be clear about your purpose
- Establish and maintain good operating procedures
- Keep prayer and reflection central
- Provide on-going training and formation
- Review regularly
- Empower and enable others to take responsibility. Don’t take it all on yourselves
- Find ways to turn over and renew membership of the group.