ROCHESTER — As the Diocese of Rochester’s mother church, Sacred Heart Cathedral is a natural trend setter for other diocesan parishes.
Ginny Miller, music minister for the Cathedral Community, observed that from the time the cathedral reopened in early 2005 after an 18-month renovation, Bishop Matthew H. Clark has talked about the cathedral being a model.
“If we could do a good job, the other parishes would look to what the cathedral is doing,” Miller said.
Staff members are taking this role to heart as they move on the first Sunday of Advent from preparation for to implementation of the Roman Missal’s new English translation. A prime example of their efforts is a Cathedral Community-produced card, folded into a four-page, 5 5/8-inch-by-11-inch flyer, that lists the order of the Mass along with music. Included are many sung portions of the introductory rites, the Liturgy of the Eucharist and Communion rite; and spoken prayers mostly from the introductory rites (penitential act, Gloria) and Liturgy of the World (Nicene and Apostles’ creeds).
Miller selected much of the flyer’s content, with input from Father Kevin McKenna, the Cathedral Community’s pastor; Rose Culligan Davis, pastoral associate; Father Edison Tayag, parochial vicar; and Joan Workmaster, liturgy committee chair. Father McKenna said he notified all diocesan pastors and pastoral administrators in late September of the card’s availability. He and Miller noted that the card is a handy, compact transitional tool while parishes wait for permanent hymnals and missalettes to arrive.
“We wanted everything to be user-friendly,” said Miller, who in her role as music coordinator for diocesan liturgies also has been busy networking with musicians around the diocese about the increase in chanted responses that will accompany the new translation. In fact, Miller said more than 400 musicians came together at the cathedral on Sept. 14 to go through the changes.
The Catholic Community plans to focus further on the new Roman Missal by teaching new sung responses to congregations just before Sunday Masses; making announcements, reflections and homilies from the pulpit after Advent begins; displaying educational materials in Sacred Heart’s narthex; holding meetings and presentations; continuing a series of “The Liturgy Corner” bulletin articles by Workmaster; and providing information on the community’s website.
Davis observed that it’s vital for parishioners, as well as staff and committee members, to serve as good models for the rest of the diocese. That is due to the many visitors who flock to the cathedral throughout the year for events unique to Sacred Heart such as ordinations, the Chrism Mass during Holy Week and multiparish confirmations.
“Part of our hope is that people will see a community that’s ready for (the implementation) — not put off by it, totally thrown. Even though it’s new, they’re prepared for it,” Davis said.
Preparation began in earnest nearly a year ago with various informational opportunities arranged by Cathedral Community staff. Father McKenna was particularly pleased with the results of soup suppers this past Lent, which featured lectures on different elements of the new Roman Missal.
“We had so many people who came to these sessions. The people really had excellent questions, and we also had excellent feedback to the speakers,” Father McKenna said, adding that the attendance numbers were solid throughout Lent: “They’re hungering for this, reflecting on the issues.”
Miller, Davis and Father McKenna said the Cathedral Community’s efforts are designed to quickly lead people — in their own parishes and in the diocese as a whole — past their initial struggle with unfamiliar wording and parts of the Mass that will now be sung instead of spoken.
“We’re really not just preparing for word changes. The focus is to help people appreciate liturgy in a new way,” Davis said.
“I think it’s a real opportunity for a deeper spirituality, a deeper participation, a sense of what we are really doing when we participate in a Mass — what is this all about,” Miller said.
“This is an opportunity to be reinvigorated,” Father McKenna agreed, noting that by using new words “we’ll be concentrating more, not just on getting (the wording) right but connecting ourselves to the deeper reality of what it signifies.”