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CURRENT ISSUE:  April 11, 2011
VOL. 49, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Easter initiates new people
into the Catholic faith

Rally draws 1,000 young people
Bishop’s Appeal tops $1.5M mark, nearing goal
Eucharistic renewal at heart of
implementation of new missal

Missal coming in November

If you were to ask any pastoral minister in our parishes what is the present focus, the response would be Holy Week and the entire Easter Season. This is the primary liturgical time for Baptism and Confirmation, and the renewal of our central faith in the Eucharist. There are not too many people focused on the new Roman Missal. And that is as it should be!

When Advent 2011 begins, specifically the weekend of Nov. 27, there will be changes in the texts prayed at Mass. The most notable changes will be for the priests who are principal celebrants when the faithful gather to celebrate Eucharist. Very minor changes will occur for the assemblies who gather.

Depending upon group dynamics and the nature of any given group, there are many who are anxious about the changes, others who are indifferent and still others who just want to get on with it. Regardless of where you land on this spectrum, what is most important is to use this opportunity for Eucharistic and liturgical renewal.

Steering the renewal in our diocese is a 30 member commission appointed by Bishop Cordileone. The commission consists of priest and deacon clergy, persons from religious orders, directors of music ministry and principals from our Catholic schools and a representative of our lay ecclesial ministers.

Already, some of the renewal has begun. The lay ecclesial ministers and the deacons had workshops with Christian Brother William Woeger from the Archdiocese of Omaha.

In May, members of the commission will meet with our priest clergy, religious and school principals. Throughout the summer, there will be workshops for our parish directors of music ministry.

In the fall, the priests of the diocese will go away together for a five-day summit and much of the attention will be devoted to their role in leading parish communities when implementation begins.

Nevertheless, this time of preparation is important for our diocesan leadership, the renewal for all of our parishes will begin in October. For seven consecutive weeks, we will gradually introduce the changes that we will experience. The Office of Worship will provide tools that will be found in parish bulletins, used in the shaping of homilies and promoted in catechetical workshops. In addition, there will be lesson plans crafted for our elementary and secondary schools, and adapted plans for parish faith formation programs.

If you are interested in more detail on the timeline of implementation, go to the Diocese of Oakland website and click under the Office of Worship.

If we merely focus on changes in words and the awkwardness in moving from the familiar to the new, then we miss a prime opportunity to ground ourselves in the Eucharist and commit to an evangelization that will draw all to a richer sense of why we gather and pray as one body with one faith.

Liturgical reform is ongoing. If we stop reform, indirectly we are stating that the Church is no longer breathing. If we are no longer breathing, then we are dead! While change is not easy, I trust the Holy Spirit will guide our efforts. When Advent 2011 arrives we will be ready to take the journey that transforms the New Roman Missal into the felt prayer of the Diocese of Oakland.

(Father Paul D. Minnihan is pastor at St. Paschal Baylon Parish in Oakland and director of diocesan worship.)

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