Unity in spirit, diversity of style and evangelization as liturgy’s ultimate purpose were themes emphasized by keynote speakers at the 2013 Los Angeles Liturgical Conference, held June 28-29 at Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills.“Liturgy puts us back into proper perspective, with God and with each other,” said Msgr. Kevin Irwin, in his talk, “Liturgy Does Us: A Catholic Theology and Spirituality of the Liturgy.”“Liturgy shapes how we look at life,” continued the Walter J. Schmitz Chair of Liturgical Studies at the Catholic University of America, and author of numerous books on liturgy. “The purpose of liturgy is not to get the liturgy right; the purpose of liturgy is to get life right, or at least less wrong.”Liturgy, explained Msgr. Irwin, is not an idea, but rather an occurrence that is “meant to bring us together. Every single time we pray the Eucharist we pray for the Church’s unity.” But unity, he noted, does not mean uniformity. Rather, he described the Church as a patchwork quilt of diversity, bound together by unity and a sense of “utter respect.”“Liturgy is not a software program; it happens in many, many ways,” he said. “So get on board with variety, under the umbrella of one structure, which helps us be ritually familiar.”Diversity in liturgy can go hand-in-hand with evangelization, noted Msgr. Richard Hilgartner, executive director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat for Divine Worship, in his keynote presentation, titled “Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord: Liturgy, Evangelization and Catechesis.”“Liturgy is a tool for evangelization — the evangelization of the assembly, those who are within, and the evangelization of the world, those on the outside,” he said. “We don’t just gather [for Mass]; we gather in order to be sent to evangelize.”Referring to “Sacrosanctum Concilium,” the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council, Msgr. Hilgartner described liturgy as the “source and the summit of Christian life,” noting that “liturgy plunges us into the ultimate reality of who we are and who we are called to be.”“It’s in the liturgy that we’re configured to Christ as his disciples,” said Msgr. Hilgartner, who oversaw the introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal, educating clergy, religious and lay people across the country about the changes.“In the liturgy is where we find the grace and the strength to face all those other aspects of our mission. It’s where we discover what it means to be a member of the body of Christ.”Approximately 475 clergy, parish staff, and liturgical volunteers attended the Conference — “Celebrating the Sacred Mysteries” — which also featured a panel discussion, breakout sessions and worship experiences, all intended to offer a “a fresh look at liturgy.”The Office of Worship and the Liturgical Commission of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles presented the conference in conjunction with the Year of Faith, and the 50th anniversary of “Sacrosanctum Concilium.” “We chose ‘Celebrating the Sacred Mysteries’ [as the theme] because it’s at the heart of liturgical practice,” said St. Joseph of Carondelet Sister Rosanne Belpedio, director of the Office of Worship. “We celebrate the sacred mysteries, which are ever ancient, and ever new. The idea is to get in touch with both — the ancient and the new [aspects of liturgy].”During his keynote address — “Liturgy Does Us: A Catholic Theology and Spirituality of the Liturgy” — Msgr. Irwin expanded on this concept.“Don’t think about what this talk will do for your liturgy planning and celebration; this is not heat-and-serve hints for liturgy,” he explained with a smile. “It’s really about asking yourself, ‘What did the talk help me think about in a new way, in a different way? What does the whole thing mean?’”The ultimate goal of liturgy, he stressed, is “for liturgy to do us.”The panel discussion on day one of the conference included both keynote presenters, joined by Kathy Enright, director of the Office of Parish Life; Father Pedro Lopez, pastor of St. Pius X Church in Santa Fe Springs; Margaret Matijasevic, regional coordinator of Religious Education for the San Fernando Region; and Rose Hernandez, director for the Office of Ministries for the Diocese of Fresno. Lesa Truxaw, director of the Office of Worship for the Diocese of Orange, served as moderator.The topics and questions addressed by the panelists included ways of welcoming churchgoers to make them feel part of the liturgical process, the need to improve homilies/preaching, the appropriateness of using new media to reach the faithful, the “gifts” congregants bring to the liturgical experience (such as a spirit of gratitude), and many more. “This conference has highlighted a variety of perspectives on liturgy, so the opportunity for conversation and dialogue is beneficial and should continue,” Matijasevic told The Tidings following the panel discussion. “I think we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of the many conversations that need to take place in order to authentically express our diverse liturgical experiences to help meet the needs of the people that are coming [to church].”For Pinky Reymundo, a parishioner at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Claremont, where she is a member of the church’s liturgy and worship councils, the conference was an “affirming” experience.“In our role as liturgists of the parish I have come to realize that you have got to go beyond just trying to do good and meaningful liturgies; it doesn’t stop there — it’s about how you touch people,” said Reymundo, noting that her goal as a liturgist has expanded to trying to give parishioners an “experience that stays with them when Mass ends, when they go forth.”“My overall impression from the feedback I’ve received was that people were really pleased with the conference and were going away very enthusiastic,” said Sister Belpedio. “People were energized. Our goal now is to capitalize on that momentum by responding to what they are asking for.”To do so, the Office of Worship will be offering liturgical formation days across the archdiocese — in English and/or Spanish, from August 2013 through May 2014 — and will incorporate some suggestions and address areas of interest that participants mentioned in their conference feedback.For information about upcoming liturgical formation days, call the Office of Worship, (213) 637-7262, or visit www.LaLiturgy.org. For information about advanced liturgical formation through LMU, visit: http://academics.lmu.edu/extension/programs.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0705/litconf/{/gallery}