Thoughtful Discussions – Participants at the meeting on the Roman Missal at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, had an opportunity to share conversation about all they learned. In this photo, Father Peter James Alindogan, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Cinnaminson, left, chats with a priest from the Metuchen Diocese.Monitor photo by Mary Stadnyk
Thoughtful Discussions – Participants at the meeting on the Roman Missal at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, had an opportunity to share conversation about all they learned. In this photo, Father Peter James Alindogan, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Cinnaminson, left, chats with a priest from the Metuchen Diocese.
Monitor photo by Mary Stadnyk

There was a mix of reactions expressed by the priests and lay leaders who attended the workshop on the new Roman Missal held at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, Aug. 10-11. For the most part, the responses were positive, although there were some who had concerns, especially about the reason “why” the changes in the Mass needed to occur.

Using the possible reintroduction of chant at Mass by priests as an example, Sister Eleanor said that people “might be inclined to say that we’re moving backward instead of forward out of ignorance.”

“I think once they realize all of the reasons why the Missal is being translated for authenticity to the Scripture translations, and the need to be as true as possible to the original languages in which the prayers were first written and the need for unity among the 11 English-speaking countries, I think they will sense that we are not moving backward, but that we are moving forward and upward,” she said.

Msgr. Sam A. Sirianni, pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, Freehold, and director of the diocesan Office of Worship, reflected on how pleased he was to see more than 100 priests from the Trenton Diocese in attendance at the regional meeting held at Monmouth University.

“The first goal of the meeting was to gather as many priests as possible because it will be left to us as pastors and as parish priests to help our people appreciate this edition of the Roman Missal and then to adapt it and make it our prayer,” he said.

As diocesan director of worship, Msgr. Sirianni said that although he has been preparing for the implementation of the Roman Missal for the past several years, what he gleaned from his participation at the regional meeting was that it helped him to “broaden the field of conversation” about the implementation and all that it entails.

“Now more and more people know about the Roman Missal; more and more people are talking about it and I now find myself addressing it more and the materials that are available on the Roman Missal are very helpful,” he said.

As for the revision edition of the Roman Missal itself, Msgr. Sirianni said that “After the initial translation of the Mass into the vernacular, it is probably the next major step that has been taken because it now strengthens our prayer life to not only be closer to the original language which was Latin, it also depicts a more unified expression within the vernacular with other languages. Our translation is now more in synch with the other vernacular languages of the Mass which to me speaks of the universality of the Church.”

Jen Schlameuss-Perry talked about how the Roman Missal has been a topic of conversation around St. Aloysius Parish for more than a year, and now she is pleased to have some concrete answers especially when parishioners ask about what the changes will be and “Why now, especially when the Church has so many other things to deal with?”

As a result of having attended the conference, which Schlameuss-Perry described as being “excellent and very informative,” she said that the response she will give is that although the Missal is currently a front-line topic in the Church, “It isn’t like the Church has stopped because of it.”

“The Church is still dealing with the other issues,” said Schlameuss-Perry, who is pastoral associate at St. Aloysius Parish, adding that she then tries to “direct the conversation with a more positive bent and say that it’s a great opportunity for us to look at what we have been praying with fresh eyes.”

“A lot of people were afraid that we were flying back to the 1950s; they were thinking that there was going to be more Latin and that their role (in the Mass) was going to be compromised,” she said.

“I am very glad that I can tell them that is not at all going to be the case,” she said. "I try to encourage them to give (the revised Missal) a chance.”

At St. Aloysius, Schlameuss-Perry said that copies of a recent issue of Catholic Update (www.americancatholic.org/newsletters), which addresses the Roman Missal, have been distributed to parishioners and that plans are being discussed to host workshops and adult enrichment sessions for parish staff and the community at-large. Parish staff, she said, is also looking to prepare articles on the Roman Missal for the parish bulletin and the parish website, blog and Facebook pages which may be found at http://www.saintaloysiusonline.org/

John Boucher, director of the diocesan Office of Evangelization and Parish Development, echoed Sister Eleanor’s sentiments when he said that he too has come to appreciate the connection that is pointed out between Scripture and liturgy.

“That’s very important,” he said, “and it would be a doorway for all kinds of creative programs taking place in parish life to help people pray better with the new liturgy and to understand and be able to see the connection between passages and where it is in the liturgy. I don’t think either of the previous missals points that out. In this third edition, the connection is very prominent.”

Jo Lynn Krempecki, associate director of the Office of Evangelization and Parish Development and administrator of the diocesan Institute for Lay Ecclesial Ministry program, said “By having to relearn some of the ways we celebrate Mass is going to make us slow down and focus in a way that perhaps we would not have done before” had there not been a revision of the Roman Missal.

Krempecki reflected on Bishop Smith’s well-known phrase, “This is our time to be Church.”

“Well, the revision of the Roman Missal,” she said, “just may be the Holy Spirit’s way of saying to us, ‘This is the time you need to get back to the center of what it is that we are about as Catholic Christians, and that’s the celebration of the Eucharist.”

“Maybe the changes are, in some way, going to force us to re-embrace the Mass,” she said.

Father Gene Vavrick, pastor of St. Anselm Parish, Wayside, said he thinks “it is an exciting time to welcome this new translation.”

“Unlike the first translation into English in the 1960s, we have a chance now to prepare and catechize people on the liturgy whereas in the 1960s, it just kind of appeared, and then we were told that we now celebrate Mass in English,” he said. “Nobody ever told us why or encouraged us to get into the deeper meaning of the Mass.

“This period of catechizing and preparation gives pastors a chance to gather with their people to really reflect on the deeper meaning of the Mass,” he said.

At St. Anselm, Father Vavrick said that catechetical materials on the Roman Missal are being distributed around the parish and that he, along with members of the parish liturgy committee, are planning to hold information sessions for the entire parish.

Father Vavrick said he too chooses to remain “positive” about the changes in the Roman Missal because “this is a chance for all the baptized to really grow in appreciation of our liturgical gatherings and to be renewed in our understanding of why we do what we do and that’s to give praise to God.”