The Liturgy Committee is made up of leaders of the various parish liturgical ministries and other parishioners. They are responsible for setting guidelines and planning for major celebrations to help the community enjoy a positive and inviting worship experience through full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy.
Role of Parish Liturgy Committee
The responsibilities of the Parish Liturgy Committee can be grouped into four areas: preparation, coordination, formation and evaluation.
For Sunday Mass and other celebrations, the liturgical books set out the order of service, opening prayer, prayer over the gifts and prayer after communion, and the readings for the day. On certain occasions there is also a set preface to be used.
Other parts of the Mass, however, are more flexible. Among the variable aspects are the introductory rites, intercessions, Eucharistic Prayer and the music. Even among the "fixed" parts there is often a choice of opening prayer or the option of using a shorter form of a reading. Liturgical ministers need to be rostered and instructed.
In addition to immediate preparation for celebrations, the liturgy committee also needs to undertake long-term planning. This involves oversight of the "big picture" of parish liturgies across the entire liturgical year, establishing parish policy on matters of worship and setting goals for the liturgical life of the parish.
Specialist liturgical ministries are planned and performed by those who have the necessary knowledge and skills. For example, musicians select appropriate music and artists shape the liturgical environment. It is the responsibility of the liturgy committee to co-ordinate these various ministries and to ensure that they are carried out with a common understanding of the spirit and structure of the celebration.
The liturgy committee is the avenue for communication between the different liturgical ministry groups in the parish. For example, it needs to ensure that rosters for readers and ministers of communion are drawn up in such a way that an individual performs only one liturgical ministry at a particular Mass.
Inservice training is as important for those involved in liturgical ministry as it is in any job. Another role of the parish liturgy committee is to provide opportunities for spiritual and practical formation for its own members, for the various liturgical ministers and for the parish as a whole. This can be done by arranging guest speakers, making use of the excellent audio visual training resources that are available (such as “Powerful Points for Liturgical Ministers”) and by including information about liturgy in parish bulletins and handouts (copies of the "Liturgy Lines", for example!)
Looking back at the way feasts and seasons were celebrated is an important learning experience for liturgy planners. What worked well that should be retained? What needs to be revised, improved or eliminated in the future?
Some of the big questions that a liturgy committee might ask include: Are our liturgies life-giving? Are parishioners able to participate easily in the liturgies? What criticisms are people making and how do we address these?