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Liturgy: Renewing the role of parish liturgy committees and coordinators – Part 3

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Liturgy committees are about fostering and nourishing faith through the preparations necessary to shape good celebrations. If the primary quality of good liturgical celebrations is a unity of purpose, as was mentioned in last week’s article, and if “all concerned should work together in the effective preparation” of parish liturgy, as the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (No. 73) directs, a parish cannot survive without a functioning liturgy committee, with a few members coordinating all those efforts.

Growth is an inevitable quality of life, and the liturgy, too, must follow an organic process to stay alive for all participants. The goal of the liturgy committee is to prepare a “living” liturgy, a liturgy that gives life. Our liturgical year gives the perfect structure within which to do this work.

As it seeks to form us year after year in the paschal mystery of Christ, we move through times of quiet anticipation, joyous proclamation, steady reflection, rigorous renewal, resurrected zeal and deeper gospel living. How does a parish form a group capable of such an intense responsibility? As with anything in life, the toughest part of beginning something new is taking the first step.

That first step in forming a parish liturgy committee is for the pastor, with assistance from other parish leadership, to call the necessary workers together. Most of the parishes in our archdiocese are shared parishes in that they are made up of people from various language communities. For the parish to truly become a cohesive body working towards life-giving celebrations of the Mass, those in the liturgical ministries, and representatives of each of the language communities need to be included. Every member of the committee needs to be schooled in the essential liturgical principles, so that they may work effectively in a multicultural context. These principles are basic to the celebration of the Mass in any culture.

Then, the second step is to set up a system of communication among all members that is effective and thorough. Poor communication is the downfall of any institution. To avoid jeopardizing your chances of success, all the ministry leadership at the various Sunday Mass times, as well as the parish’s yearly liturgical celebrations need to be included in the communications network established.

The third step is for all chosen members to spend a length of time, perhaps a year of monthly gatherings, in learning about the liturgy. The Office for Worship can help you in this formative process. Contact us at OFWmailbox@la-archdiocese.org or call (213) 637-7262.

During the initial time of learning and growing proposed above, there will likely be an individual on the committee whose passion for the liturgy will be awakened. Trust in the process. God provides! If this member of the committee is a good communicator and organizer, the group should likely ask her/him to take on the role of coordinator.

That coordinator becomes like the hub of a wheel, with all the spokes of the wheel being the various liturgical ministries. It is best if this person is also the center point of all communications. This will relieve the pastor and other priests from carrying that task. The coordinator might take on the following responsibilities:

> Schedules the regular meetings;

> Schedules the meeting room;

> Communicate the dates and location to all members; and

> Takes responsbility for sending out all communications.

The committee also needs someone to run the meetings. Over the course of the year of formation, the pastor will likely be able to identify someone on the committee who is a good listener and who understands the dynamics of group discussion. That person can serve as facilitator for the meetings. The facilitator will need an understanding of the liturgical year, and be someone immersed in the life of the parish. The facilitator’s responsibilities would include:

> Proposing an agenda for each meeting;

> Adjusting the agenda in discussion with the pastor;

> Sending out the completed agenda to all members at least one week before each meeting, perhaps with a suggested reading of a church document, article or book chapter pertinent to the main topic of the meeting; and

> Facilitating the discussion at the meetings, making sure everyone has a chance to speak while ensuring that no one dominants the discussion.

The group will also need someone to document its proceedings. This recordkeeper would:

> Take notes of each meeting’s discussion

> Make those notes available to members on a regular basis

> Keep a record book of all meeting notes, agendas and readings.

The parish liturgy committee is now ready to begin their work. More about this next week.