Click here for COVID-19 Information, prayers and resources

Be ready to talk about Christ: liturgists told

By Mary Brazell, 2 April 2020
Keynote speaker Reverend Dr Paul Turner, the pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri, United States, speaks during the 2020 National Biennial Liturgy Conference at the Novotel Sydney Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

 

More than 160 liturgists from across Australia and the South Pacific have looked back and ahead to examine the role of liturgy in the future of the Church.

The 2020 National Biennial Liturgy Conference, “Liturgy: Forming a Prayerful and Eucharistic Church, was organised by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference National Liturgical Council.

View images from the 2020 National Biennial Liturgy Conference here or below.

The conference was hosted by the Diocese of Parramatta at the Novotel Sydney Parramatta over three days in March.

On the first day of the conference, Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, welcomed attendees to his diocese, before Bishop Patrick O’Regan, chair of the Bishops Commission for Liturgy, opened the conference.

The keynote speaker for the conference was Reverend Dr Paul Turner, the pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri, United States.

Fr Turner’s first address, “Looking Back” discussed the fruits of the Second Vatican Council in relation to changes to the liturgy and how they continue to bloom under Pope Francis.

Keynote speaker Reverend Dr Paul Turner, the pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri, United States, speaks during the 2020 National Biennial Liturgy Conference at the Novotel Sydney Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

“During the years after the Council, there must have been controversy, but I mostly remember the excitement,” Fr Turner told the audience.

“I remember one priest guiding a classroom of us 14-year-olds through a debate over retaining some Latin in the Mass. We could not all agree, but we learned early on that the way forward would involve opinion and direction, clarity and confusion, prayer and Eucharist. We learnt about the issues in class, and we experienced them at church.”

Fr Turner discussed five different ways of seeing the changes to the Mass following the Council – creating better focus, mining the tradition, setting new directions, expanding the lectionary and re-centring Eucharistic theology.

“If you ask almost any Catholic my age, ‘what were the two biggest liturgical changes you experienced after Vatican II?’ you will get the same answer, Mass went into English, and the priest faced the people. These two examples illustrate two different liturgical movements, bringing the people to the liturgy and bringing the liturgy to the people.

“Both these accomplishments demonstrate what the Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy resoundingly stressed, ‘in the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit’ (14).

“The full, conscious, active participation of the people is founded on the biblical passage 1 Peter 2:9 and on 1 Peter 2:5. We Christians believe that we are the new chosen people, each a royal priest who praises God and offers sacrifice. That is why full, conscious, active participation is so critical. It gives the common priesthood its expression.

“The General Instruction spells out the meaning plainly among the Functions of the People of God: ‘In the celebration of Mass the faithful form a holy people, a people of God’s own possession and a royal Priesthood, so that they may give thanks to God and offer the unblemished sacrificial Victim not only by means of the hands of the Priest but also together with him and so that they may learn to offer their very selves’ (95),” Fr Turner said.

Bishop Patrick O’Regan (left) speaks with participants during the 2020 National Biennial Liturgy Conference at the Novotel Sydney Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Throughout the second day of the conference, attendees participated in three workshops on topics ranging from singing the chants of the Mass, engaging children in liturgy and hospitality and the worshipping community.

Sr Mary-Louise Walsh ISSM, Liturgy Educator, Office for Worship, Diocese of Parramatta, presented a workshop on ministry to the sick and frail, with a practical exploration of the main rites associated with visitation of the sick.

In another workshop, parishioners of the Diocese of Parramatta participated in a facilitated forum and discussed their experience of church in their country of origin and here in Australia.

Wayne Fernandez, Stella Nwosu, Matt Bretania and Qwayne Guevara compared worship in India, Nigeria, Canada and the Philippines respectively, and their experience of faith and worship in the Diocese of Parramatta.

(L-R) Diocese of Parramatta parishioners Qwayne Guevara, Matt Bretania, Stella Nwosu and Wayne Fernandez speak during the 2020 National Biennial Liturgy Conference at the Novotel Sydney Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Conference attendees participated in liturgy throughout the three days, with the invitation to participate in Morning and Evening Prayers, and on the Friday night, celebrating Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, with Bishop Vincent.

On the final day of the conference, Fr Turner returned for his second keynote address. In “Looking Ahead,” he explored the realities the Church faces such as Mass attendance and the challenges of secular society, and offered a way forward in fostering and forming the people of God in prayer.

“Grateful for the past, we look ahead with hope, indeed with confidence. The Holy Spirit who has guided our Church thus far will not abandon us in the years to come. The treasures of eternity lie open to those who discover Christ, and we are His ambassadors. As we remain open to the Spirit, we hunger for the insights that will help us minister as God wills.

“Our church faces hard realities, but we have great potential. The message of Jesus Christ continues to echo in our hearts. We hold it dear and share his good news with others,” Fr Turner said.

Keynote speaker Reverend Dr Paul Turner, the pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri, United States, speaks during the 2020 National Biennial Liturgy Conference at the Novotel Sydney Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Fr Turner offered words of advice for the Church in Australia in its preparation for the Plenary Council.

“Tell people about Christ. You have faith, and that faith gives you hope. Your hope will be visible to all who encounter you. Be ready to talk about Christ,” he said.

“Develop your personal prayer. Choose a method. You cannot foster a prayerful church if you are not a prayerful member of the church.

“Learn about the liturgy. Our liturgy richly expresses traditional Christian faith. Read about it, talk about it, reflect on it. Use the prayers and readings of the liturgy in other events during the week and see how they nourish all ministry.

“Participate fully, consciously and actively in the liturgy. At church, give the liturgy all you can. Focus your mind on everything that is happening, including the parts when you do not speak. The Second Vatican Council gave you this gift of participation – use it.”

Fr Turner concluded his keynote by saying, “Let us open our eyes. Let us recognise Christ among us. He will take us like bread, bless us, break us and give us to the world. He will form us into a prayerful and eucharistic church that always looks ahead.”

Participants during a discussion during the 2020 National Biennial Liturgy Conference at the Novotel Sydney Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

A question and answer session for Fr Turner was open to attendees, before members of the National Liturgical Conference shared reflections on the Plenary Council Discernment and Writing groups process.

Bishop O’Regan delivered the concluding remarks before giving a final blessing.

“This conference has been well-paced, giving much room to discussion, exchanging of ideas, resources, laughter and good fellowship.

“I thank you for entering into this wonderful spirit of this epiphany of ecclesial communion,” Bishop O’Regan said.

View images from the 2020 National Biennial Liturgy Conference here or below.

2020 National Biennial Liturgy Conference

Read Daily
* indicates required

RELATED STORIES