Nearly two hundred leaders from dioceses across the United States gathered in Dallas, Texas, October 7-9, for the 46th annual meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC). Bruce Croteau, Director of Liturgy, Diocese of Orlando and St. James Cathedral was also in attendance. Their focus was Liturgy and Ecclesiology, specifically the central role of the Eucharist and the role of diocesan liturgical commissions as advisors to diocesan bishops.
Monsignor Paul McPartlan of the Catholic University of America gave a sweeping historical and theological analysis of the central role of the Eucharist in the life of the Church, the role of the Bishop as Priest and Vicar of Christ, and the Bishop’s role as preacher of the Word.
Monsignor John Foster, Vicar General of the Archdiocese for Military Services, who has served as both a director of an Office of Worship and as a professor of Canon Law, offered historical background to the Second Vatican Council’s mandate of the formation of liturgical commissions. To read about the Diocese of Orlando Liturgical Commission members, click here: https://www.orlandodiocese.org/images/stories/directory/sections/02_016_LiturgicalCommittee_20140623.pdf
OVERVIEW OF MONSIGNOR FOSTER’S PRESENTATION:
The Council Fathers saw the need to establish a liturgical commission for each “territorial ecclesiastical authority” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 44). It recognized that experts in “liturgical science, music, art, and pastoral practice” would aid in the study of the liturgy and in the implementation of the liturgical renewal. In addition, it called for the establishment of an institute for pastoral liturgy, made up of ordained and lay experts, which would aid in this process. Under the direction of the conference of bishops, the commission was “to regulate pastoral-liturgical action throughout the territory and to promote studies and necessary experiments whenever there is a question of adaptations to be proposed to the Apostolic See” (CSL 44).
Further, the Council mandated the establishment of a liturgical commission in each diocese. “For the same reason every diocese is to have a commission on the sacred liturgy under the direction of the bishop, for promoting the liturgical apostolate” (CSL 45). If circumstances demanded it, the Constitution even allowed for a collaborative effort – “Sometimes it may be expedient that several dioceses should form between them one single commission which will be able to promote the liturgy by means of shared consultation” (CSL 45).
At the heart of the national meeting discussions were the results of a recent study conducted by the FDLC, on the state of Offices of Worship and Diocesan Liturgical Commissions in diocesan structures. It found that
88% of dioceses in the USA have an Office of Worship
54% have an active diocesan liturgical commission
49% have both an office and a commission
46% of offices are directed by lay persons with advanced degrees in theology and liturgy
45% of offices are directed by clergy (who often have other pastoral duties)
9% are directed by religious women or men
Some commissions have been active in their dioceses for over fifty years, while some were only recently reestablished. Offices and commissions are active in the preparation of diocesan liturgies, the development of diocesan policies, the formation of liturgical ministers, and leadership in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Nearly all of them (95%) act as resources for parish ministers while at the same time serving as advisors to their bishops.
The FDLC was founded by the then Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy in 1969 as a grass-roots network to provide formation on the liturgical reforms after the Council. Still today, the USCCB’s Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship cosponsors the annual meeting. The Committee was represented by Bishop Edward Braxton (Diocese of Belleville) and Bishop Mark Seitz (Diocese of El Paso). Bishop Braxton praised the attendees for invaluable assistance to their bishops and for their impact on the liturgical life of the country. He offered updates on the progress of the translation of liturgical books and gave an impassioned talk on the need to prepare liturgies which engage assemblies in God’s sacred action.