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Conditions for Holding Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest

When a priest cannot be present for the celebration of Mass on the Lord’s Day, it is of paramount importance that the parish or mission community still come together to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord. Even so, however, “it is unthinkable on the Lord’s Day to substitute for Holy Mass, either ecumenical celebrations of the word or services of common prayer with Christians from the...Ecclesial Communities or even participation in these Communities’ liturgical celebrations.”'

If, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop, it is not practical or possible for the community to participate in the celebration of Mass in a church nearby, they should assemble for Sunday worship in their own community under the leadership of the person whom the bishop and pastor have designated to lead them in prayer. In such a case the celebration takes one of the forms found in this ritual. Before Sunday celebrations in the absence of a priest are begun, it should be explained to the faithful that although these celebrations substitute for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist, they should not be regarded as the ideal solution to present circumstances nor as a surrender to mere convenience.

These celebrations are held within communities that await a priest and these solutions must be considered merely temporary. There should normally be only one liturgical assembly of this kind in each place on any given Sunday. One of these services may never be held in a location where Mass has been celebrated that weekend.

Because of the emphasis on Sunday as the Lord’s Day, such liturgical assemblies should be held on Sunday. Any confusion in the minds of the faithful between this kind of liturgical assembly and a Eucharistic celebration must be carefully avoided. These celebrations should increase the desire of the faithful to be present at and participate in the celebration of the Eucharist.

To this end, the faithful need to be led to an understanding that the Eucharistic Sacrifice cannot take place without a priest, even though the reception of Holy Communion which they receive in this kind of liturgical assembly is closely connected with the sacrifice of the Mass, but not equal to it. This serves as an urgent reminder for prayers that those whom God has called to the priesthood will respond generously.

Excerpted from “Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest,” Copyright © 2007, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C.

SCAP Lay Leader Notification Form

Continuing Liturgical Formation and/or Ministerial Duty Performed

The form below is to be used to notify the Worship Office when the S.C.A.P. Lay Leader has attended a conference or workshop, and/or performed Ministerial Duties. 

After completing the form, please print the form and either mail it (611 W. North St., Gaylord, MI 49735), FAX it (989.705.3589), or scan and email it to the Worship Office at bhicks@dioceseofgaylord.org