Pastor’s Letter Regarding Liturgy
A Service of the Parish Evaluation Project
March, 2007Pastor’s Letter Regarding Liturgy: In October of 2006, Blessed Sacrament Parish in Washington, DC went through the PAR (Parish Assessment and Renewal) process. The pastor, Msgr. John Enzler, wrote a letter to the parishioners that appeared in the January 21, 2007 issues of the parish bulletin. We offer it here as an example of how to translate some of the insights and discoveries of PAR into action. Dear Friends, As many of you remember, we were involved last fall in a fairly extensive evaluation of parish life at Blessed Sacrament. The Parish Assessment and Renewal (PAR) process included a random sample survey, input from our most active parishioners, personal interviews, a Town Hall meeting and substantial input from the staff and major advisory groups. In the area of liturgy, three themes were consistently raised by our parishioners: a welcoming atmosphere, homilies and music. In all three areas we are trying to make a concerted effort to listen to the parishioners’ concerns and respond accordingly. Input on all aspects of the liturgy is valued and appreciated. I am sure you have noticed that we are now trying to begin all weekend liturgies with a one or two minute greeting initiated by the cantors. We have been making an effort to say “hello” to those sitting close by in the pews and I have heard very positive comments about that effort. It does not detract from the liturgy and provides people an opportunity to express a brief greeting to “neighbors in the pew” who will share the Eucharist that Sunday. The priests and deacons have begun meeting twice a month to discuss the scriptures for the coming weeks and to share personal reflections and exegesis on the Sunday Gospels. We will continue to work together to provide an insightful reflection on the scriptures through our homilies each and every weekend. Finally, last week we published a “favorite hymn” survey with the hopes that you would pick one up, choose your favorite songs and add a few of your own. This is an attempt to listen to our parishioners and to discern how we can become even more engaged in the liturgy through our choirs, cantors and choice of music. Also, please plan on attending the “Hymn-Sing Festival” which will be held in the church on February 7 at 7 pm.* Keep the ideas coming and we will respond as best we can. Father John *The Hymn-Sing Festival is an invitation to all parishioners to gather for an evening of favorite liturgical songs. One person chooses a favorite and the accompanists play the song while all join in. Then someone else chooses a song and that one is sung. At the end of an hour or so of singing, those attending are encouraged to sing out loudly at the weekend liturgies with the promise that their favorites will be included.