The Catholic University of America

James A. Wickman Public Lecture

Public Lecture by James A. Wickman
For the degree of Doctor of Ministry
Monday, April 2, 2012 7:00 p.m., Caldwell Room 125


Rev. Michael Witczak, S.L.D.


Advanced Formation for Liturgical Ministers: Understanding and Integrating Full Participation

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy calls for the “full, conscious, and active participation” of the faithful in the celebration of the liturgy, as a right and duty by baptism. Heeding this call in the years since the Council, liturgical formation has defined  “full, conscious, and active” as taking part in the rites, texts, singing, gestures, and external actions of the celebration. In addition, formation for liturgical ministers has centered on skills needed to perform a specialized role. The problem addressed in this paper is how to help experienced liturgical ministers move to a level of understanding of participation in the liturgy that goes beyond the external actions to the internal movements of the heart, to transformation of life, so that all who participate in the liturgy may live out what they have become.

The primary texts of the project include Sacrosanctum Concilium and Lumen Gentium, as well as Kathleen Hughes’ Saying Amen: Mystagogy of Sacrament, Susan Wood’s Ordering the Baptismal Priesthood, and Louis-Marie Chauvet’s Sacraments. The method includes pre and post workshop research questionnaires and a full day workshop.

The workshop began with an overview of participation as understood in the documents of the Church. With this background, an extended presentation on participation as primarily internal was given. Interior participation consists of taking part in the sacrifice of Christ by the offering of self with Christ in gift to God at the liturgy. The day ended with a practical experience of mystagogical reflection on the liturgy, which the participants used to process their own participation.

The results of the project showed a significant increase in understanding of a deeper level of participation. Half of the participations indicated an increase in their awareness of how they participate in the sacrifice of Christ, and that their participation involves a giving of self, as Christ gave fully of himself on the cross, to God and to others.

The conclusion is that further formation in a deeper level of participation for those who are committed to the liturgical life of the parish can reap strong results when focused on increasing interior participation.