Celebrating the Triduum with one parish priest and several churches – Part II

Celebrating the Triduum with one parish priest and several churches – Part II

Last week I wrote about celebrating the Easter Triduum in the situation where a priest pastors more than one parish or one parish with several major worship centres. I explored the option of having the entire parish gather at one church for all ceremonies. This week I will look at three other possible options, along with their positive and negative aspects.

Option # 2: Hold each of the 3 main ceremonies in a different centre in the parish or a different parish in the cluster

As in the first option, this arrangement gives a sense of unity to the community as people come together for each of the important ceremonies of the Triduum. The sense of dislocation is experienced equally as each parish will have to go twice to a place of worship other than their own.

Using liturgical ministers from the host church at each celebration would ensure a fair sharing of roles and assist in the smooth running of celebrations because of local experience.

Inter-community rivalries might lead to some competition about which parish should hold the Easter Vigil, the key celebration of the three days. Dividing the Triduum ceremonies among different venues might create the impression that they are three separate liturgies rather than one rite held over three days.

This solution will not be an option if any of the parishes do not have a worship space capable of holding the numbers who would attend a combined celebration.

Option # 3: Use a combination of options 1 and 2

Rather than having everyone gather for all three ceremonies in the one place or at three different venues, another possibility is to have some combined services and some separate.

For example, the parish or cluster might come together for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which would be celebrated with best liturgical practice – good music, communion under both kinds using real bread that is broken and shared, etc. The Blessed Sacrament could be carried from this service to the altar of repose in each church and used for communion at separate celebrations of the Lords’ Passion the next day. If necessary, the Good Friday service could be led by a lay person. The community might again come together for the celebration of the Easter Vigil with Easter Sunday services taking place in individual churches.

This option retains most of the advantages of holding all of the Triduum ceremonies in common whilst overcoming some of the inherent disadvantages.

Option # 4: Use supply priests so that all ceremonies can be held in all centres

While this option overcomes some of the problems such as dislocation and space associated with the other solutions and may be a necessity in country areas, several disadvantages make it the least-preferable option.

Having a presider who has no connection with the worshipping community does not make for a meaningful celebration of the Easter ceremonies. It also means that a key opportunity for vibrant communal worship offered by combined celebration is lost.

While the parish priest would preside at one ceremony at each parish, there would no doubt be a degree of rivalry across the parishes when it came to deciding on which parish would be allocated the parish priest to lead the celebration of the Easter Vigil. Clearly he should be at the parish which is initiating new members, but this might well be happening at more than one place.

Elizabeth Harrington