success stories

Posted September 10, 2003

Part II

Suggestions Worth Pondering by those in Lay Ministry

To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improves how it helps me deepen my understanding of the Bible: (Question 1C - Knowledge of the Faith)

Offer year-round adult Scripture study including short-term classes that start at various times during the year; offer rotating times (day, evening, week-end, and during children's faith formation classes) for non-working and working parishioners; provide child care during classes.

Provide fliers, bulletin columns or inserts with reflections of readings.

Provide well-prepared homilies that explain Scripture and connect it to everyday life.

Recruit knowledgeable and trained people to lead Bible studies or teach adult classes. Designate person in diocesan office to offer resources and training for parish Bible studies.

Support faith-sharing groups.

Develop lending library of resources including books, audio tapes, and videos.

Offer different levels of Scripture studies for beginning and advanced students; offer a variety of classes including the books of the Bible, Sunday readings, and on topical subjects such as women or peace and justice.

Provide on-line learning opportunities; publish relevant website links in bulletin or on parish website.

Offer Scripture study for teens and children; provide story-telling opportunities for the young to engage them in Scripture.

Sponsor lecture series addressing biblical issues or-topics.

To help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . how it celebrates Sunday liturgy: (Question 2C - Liturgical Life)

Provide education about the Eucharistic liturgy, the meaning of its parts, the role of the ministers (clergy and lay, men and women), the role of the assembly, placement of liturgical implements and furniture, etc. Offer a symposium on this.

Explain the General Instruction of the Roman Missal to foster an understanding of the gestures, postures, and prayers of the liturgy Ire: kneeling, gestures of the presider and other ministers, holding hands, sign of peace, receiving communion, use of incense and bells, history of changes in the liturgy throughout the ages, etc.).

Ensure that music is well prepared and appropriate to the celebration. Music is a very important issue for many people (too much, too little, not enough traditional, not enough contemporary). Hire trained music staff to work with parishioners to better understand and address needs. Teach the congregation to sing, but don't make it a show.

Give homilies that address contemporary issues and the Gospel response to those issues.

Emphasize full, active and conscious participation as outlined in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. Encourage people to worship God with their hearts, not just routine. Have the laity take an active part in planning the liturgies with their priests. Provide training and education to all involved.

Emphasize that Sunday liturgy is a community celebration, not a private prayer.

Include all members of the community in ministries especially young people. Ensure that language used is inclusive.

Address multicultural issues in a constructive, community building way.

Stress the importance of a community gathering once a week to celebrate the Eucharist.

Offer a variety of Mass times and a variety of styles (e.g., music styles). Ensure that liturgies are life-giving; that they foster reverence, mystery, and a sense of the sacred; and that homilies are prayerful and relevant to the laity.

To Help me live out my call as a Christian in the world, it is important to me that my parish improve . . . its preaching at mass and other liturgies: (Question 2D - Liturgical Life)

Encourage preaching that invites, leads, welcomes, and affirms God's love for us.

Provide well-prepared and well-delivered homilies.

Offer in-services and preaching retreats and workshops to develop skills and knowledge about Scripture, social justice issues, and contemporary cultural life.

Provide ongoing training and evaluation of homilies. Provide short, concise and inspirational homilies that relate the readings to today's world.

Ensure that homilies reflect the message of the Gospel and challenge the hearer rather than scolding them about the rules of the church.

Seek good homilists; use persons who "have the gift of preaching." Recognize that some priests are gifted in other areas, but not in preaching.

Allow lay people to preach, particularly those who have been trained and possess skills for preaching. Develop a lay preaching program with a strong formation component. Allow women's voices to be heard. It is important that all hear women's reflections on Scripture, and especially important for women to hear from women who share their experience of life and spirituality.

Improve seminary training on homiletics.