Clogher Diocesan Liturgy Commission
Progress Report from the Subcommittee on Lay Led Liturgies
In Clogher Diocese there has been a growing awareness that it timely for us to give active consideration to making provision for Lay-Led Liturgies on weekdays. Bishop Larry Duffy encouraged the Diocesan Liturgy Commission (DLC) to move forward with its plans to offer a workshop to explore the mood across the Diocese and to promote a guided reflection. The workshops were held on 26 and 27 February and drew some 140 people in all. The mood was positive and the participants engaged very warmly in the process. The closing Liturgy of the Word (Lay Led) was very well received. This report wants to honour the contribution of those who attended the workshops, and to indicate some initial steps to move things forward.
The purpose of Questions 1 and 2 in the workshops was to open the conversation on the topic and to hear something of the experience of those attending. The feedback to those questions served its purpose in the gatherings themselves, and is not reproduced here.
The intention of Question 3 was to name some possibilities that people might consider as ways to move forward. The combined feedback to question 3 from both workshops is given below.
Q3 AS WE MOVE FORWARD IN CHANGING PASTORAL SITUATIONS, WHAT OPTIONS OR STYLES OF LAY-LED LITURGY/PRAYER SHOULD WE BE ENCOURAGING / DEVELOPING / SUPPORTING?
5 of the responses seemed to suggest priority for the work of the DLC in this area:
- The importance of faith formation and training
- Develop focus on the Word of God
- Lay led Liturgy of the Word, with music
- Face the challenge of confusion – catechesis for clarity
- Enable wider parish participation in preparing and delivering Prayer of the Faithful
Four responses focussed on Youth:
- Foster teen and children’s liturgies
- Youth led liturgy and music
- Involve young people – eg through music
- Foster youth-to-youth ministry
The other responses were:
- Liturgy of the Hours
- Lay-led liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion
- Communion services – why not?
- One participant recalled an experience they had once in Africa: ‘a full lively mass led by a lay person and we realised afterwards there had been no consecration’.
- If no Communion people don’t come as readily
- Develop the role of women
- Taizé-style prayer
- New initiatives in sacramental prep (1st Communion, Confirmation) outside school
- Eucharistic Adoration
- Lectio Divina
- Foster renewal of family prayer (lay-based, by definition)
The subgroup encourages Parishes / Pastoral Areas to reflect on what they might themselves do to address any of these points, to find where they have energy or resources to move these forward.
We next present the full feedback from both workshops in response to Question 4, which was aimed ‘towards next steps, for consideration by the Diocesan Liturgy Commission’.
Q4 WHAT MIGHT BE HELPFUL AT PASTORAL AREA AND PARISH LEVEL?
The 21 points from the flip charts are here grouped by the subcommittee under 5 headings.
- A resource book for Clogher Diocese
- Provide a model prayer/liturgy
- Formation groups
- Proper formation programme to develop confidence
- Catechesis will be vital
- Spread the news that this work is beginning
- Dialogue in parish and a wider dialogue in diocese – let people know
- Build this gradually
- Keep up the momentum
- We would be wise to expect and be prepared to meet resistance
Begin from where we find ourselves
- Parishes are at different starting points – perhaps an audit of where parishes are at?
- Take stock of what is already happening in the diocese
- Accurate information about the situation and needs – not ‘scaremongering’
Role of the clergy
- Step by step approach, beginning with priest
- Priests to inform and encourage ‘from the altar’
- Support from PP
- Leadership from the Bishop
Wider matters (beyond the scope of the Liturgy Commission)
- Adult Faith Development
- More involvement of youth
- Bring in priests from outside
- More Deacons
Towards the end of the workshops, participants were given a short presentation on what has been prepared at national level on this topic. The full material is published in a book entitled ‘It Is Good For Us To Be Here’, and this includes a training programme for lay leaders of liturgy at parish level.
The presentation also highlighted that this book raises particular concerns to be noted in relation to a Liturgy of the Word with the distribution of Holy Communion. In the practice of the universal Church through the ages, such liturgies are considered exceptional. Church Law makes it clear that they are not the norm, that it is for the diocesan bishop to decide when they are permitted, and that they must be clearly regulated. The reasoning underlying this restriction may be highlighted by noting the four key actions of the Lord at the Last Supper, which are repeated sacramentally in the Eucharistic Liturgy: took, blessed, broke, shared. For all the apparent similarity between a Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion and Mass, when Communion is distributed outside Mass we only enact the final moment: ‘shared’. This is not faithful to the Lord’s command: Do this in memory of me. Clearly in this there is potential for confusion in the name of devotion. Significant catechesis will be essential around this vital point.
What has happened since the workshops?
The feedback above was shared with Bishop Larry, who had attended both workshops.
At the Pre-Lent Deanery Conferences in early March, priests were offered an opportunity for a first response / comment on the workshops and their response was largely positive and encouraging. Bishop Larry encouraged priests to keep this conversation alive at Parish and Pastoral Area level. It was noted that at the Enniskillen workshop the venue had been overcrowded – because of a bigger uptake than we had anticipated in our planning. This resulted in a noisy experience, and in difficulties hearing what was being said.
The subgroup met twice, 29 March and 07 May, to reflect on the workshops and on how best to move forward. A progress report was brought to the DLC at the end of May.
Aghalurcher Parish (Lisnaskea-Maguiresbridge) has approached the DLC through the subcommittee to say it wants to begin a training and formation programme with a view to developing weekday Lay Led Liturgies as a regular part of parish worship.
The subcommittee is delighted to support the parish in delivering the formation programme published in ‘It Is Good For Us To Be Here’ (published by Veritas). The dates are yet to be agreed. If any other parish would like to be part of this pilot or to take a similar initiative we will be glad to hear from them.
This report will be shared with those who participated in the workshops, using the contact email or postal addresses most of them gave on the night. It is being circulated also to parishes and to priests, particularly for sharing with participants who may not have left us their contact details.
On behalf of the Subcommittee:
Deacon Martin Donnelly,
Fr La Flynn.