March 10 – March16
VOL 124 NO. 9
By Deacon Tom Picciano/ SUN contributing writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Endicott — “We remember, we celebrate, we believe.”
Sister Laura Bufano, CSJ, led dozens of voices in song that echoed through Our Lady of Good Counsel on February 24 for “A Celebration of Liturgical Ministries.” The Southern Region Religious Education Office sponsored the event, as part of an Advanced Course for Catechists, but it was open to anyone who wanted to attend.
More than 100 people from 16 parishes heard the keynote by Sister Laura, who is a liturgy specialist for parishes in Cortland County. Her address focused on the Vatican II document, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. She referred to recent liturgical changes that have been introduced.
“In recent months pastors, liturgy committees, pastoral councils have been scrambling, wondering, kind of confused a little bit and doing more than a little complaining and fretting about all of a sudden, what to do?”
She likened it to what happened with Vatican II in 1963. “There were a lot of changes that took place rather rapidly in the church and a lot of that happened almost too fast with minimal or no catechesis. It just happened. There were a lot of people who were upset. There are still some people who are upset 40 years later.”
But Sister Laura said the recent changes have their roots in Vatican II.
“I’m excited to know that the theologicial and pastoral principles that were in the Constitution in the Sacred Liturgy are very much reflected in the new General Instruction [of the Roman Missal].”
She spoke on eight points from the document: the centrality of the Paschal Mystery, the importance of Sacred Scripture, a deeper/expanded understanding of Christ’s presence, the rediscovery of the priesthood of all believers, the liturgy as the perfect manifestation of the Church, the fount and summit of Christian life in liturgy, the right and duty of all in the assembly to active participation and the fundamental role of catechesis.
After each point was made, Sister Laura asked questions of the audience on how each particular point fit into their life in the church.
The evening also included five breakout sessions tailored to various ministries.
Deacon Tom Harley of Our Lady of Good Counsel led the session on hospitality ministries.
“Some people would say hospitality is the responsibility of the ushers; some people would say hospitality is the responsibility of the presider,” Harley said. “It’s really part and parcel of who we are as committed Catholics, Christians.”
When asked what their parishes did well for welcoming people, participants listed items like greeters at the door, coffee hours, and welcoming receptions. They then spoke of what they don’t do so well, such as people avoiding those outside their own circle of friends. One woman said her parish is very unfriendly to newcomers. She said it’s taken three years for others to relate to her.
Andrea Schaffer, DRE at Most Holy Rosary Parish in Maine, moderated a group on altar servers. The group shared ideas on reaching out to the young people to make them more familiar with the terms for items used during Mass. They also spoke of the need for servers to know where such items are kept, so they can assist on a moment’s notice, without interruption to the celebration.
“They should be transparent. They should be part of what makes the liturgy flow. They should help the priest.” Schaffer said.
Lectors got tips on reading by doing some advance preparation, such as practicing difficult words, determining proper phrasing and emphasis and trying to understand the passage completely.
“The language that we use in liturgy is an expresssion of our faith. It’s an expression of theology. It’s what we believe,” said session leader Sister Lois Barton, CSJ, the Southern Region Director of Religious Education. “Liturgical language speaks to us as a community. It speaks to us as an assembly, not as a group of individuals who came to pray to God by ourselves. The language that we speak in liturgy lifts our spirit.”
Sister Katie Eiffe,CSJ, the Director of Religious Education for the Syracuse Diocese, encouraged Eucharistic ministers to share Jesus’ love with a smile as they distribute communion. “We’re so serious,” she said. “At very least, look happy. It doesn’t mean you’re not reverent.”
Sister Katie added that it’s not up to the Eucharistic minister to decide who is worthy to receive. “We distribute communion to whoever presents themselves. Let God be the judge.”
The keynoter, Sister Laura Bufano, was the leader for music ministers. Participants were very active, learning how to incorporate the use of gestures with music in a hymn that was presented when all participants came back together after their sessions.
John Tobias, Music Minister at Our Lady of Angels in Endwell, was pleased with Sister Laura’s approach. “She’s always got a new, fresh idea to draw on in your ministry. She helps fine tune it. That makes it all much more worth the struggle in the long run.”
To conclude the evening, Sister Laura reminded attendees of the end of Matthew’s Gospel in which Jesus promises to be with us always.
“As we continue during these Lenten days, are we willing to journey with Jesus to Jerusalem when things get tough?” Sister Laura asked. “Will we be like Peter denying Jesus? Or will we dare to sing ‘I am with you on the journey?’”