Office of Worship
The Office of Worship of the Diocese of Buffalo, under the guidance of the principal liturgist, the Bishop of Buffalo, and the leadership of the Director, Fr. Seán Paul, seeks to be a resource for parishes and ministers in the planning of liturgical celebrations and ceremonies. It is the responsibility of this office to oversee the liturgical norms and policies of the diocese. In addition, it assists parishes with the formation of its members in various ministries such as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, lectors and music, as well as providing information in other areas of liturgy. This office regards its service to the liturgy as a privilege and challenge that requires both prayer and continual formation, recognizing that liturgy is first and foremost the prayer of Christ.
Recent Updates from the Office of Worship:
Pastoral Responses to Recent Surge of COVID-19 Cases (11/13/2020)
Diocese of Buffalo Liturgical Calendar 2021 (10/20/2020)
Annual Reminders for pastors and parish leaders to aid in planning for the Year of Grace 2021.
Christmas and COVID (10/20/2020)
Strategies for parishes as we approach the celebration of Christmas in the COVID era.
Coronavirus / Re-opening Guidelines, and Updates
Minister of Holy Communion Formation
The Diocese of Buffalo regularly offers Eucharistic Ministry formation sessions.
In applying to become a Minister of Holy Communion (MHC), please first discuss the possibility with your Pastor and explain your motivation to seek this official, Church ministry. Once your Pastor expresses approval, request an Application Form from your parish office or download and print this form. Complete the form and present it to your parish office for final approval: pastor’s signature and parish seal.
At the request of the local Vicar-forane, in consultation with the Worship Office Director, formation sessions are scheduled and posted on this site (calendar below)
Candidates with applications signed and sealed by their pastor, may attend any formation session listed below. If you attend outside your vicariate, please send/fax/email a copy of your completed application to the Worship Office no more than a week before the actual session.
A few days prior to the session, candidates prepare themselves by taking quality time to read and reflect on the following passage from St Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: Gal 5:22-26
Think about how, through the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Holy Spirit strengthens your Gospel witness, confirming your Baptismal call to grow more deeply into an active disciple of Jesus. Prepare yourself to respond to the following questions.
● Which of the fruits of the Spirit do I consciously seek to exemplify? Call to mind a few examples as to how you live this out. Which gift do you need to improve upon through prayer to the Holy Spirit and/or Sacramental Confession? The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the regular way active disciples cleanse/en-lighten their own spirit, allowing God to renew baptismal fortitude and personal Gospel mission.
Are there any darkness (St Paul calls them deeds of the flesh) which require sacramental healing? Do I confess them? How do I surrender myself to Jesus, the only One who can overcome these life-negating actions?
● Consider concrete examples of how I regularly recognize Jesus and minister to Him in critical human situations and relationships. How do I prepare myself to participate at Sunday Mass? How do I regularly recognize Him in a needy person and concretely respond?
● Consider how Jesus can free you, his disciple and future Minister of his Body, through Sacramental Confession by lightening a burden you bear. Ongoing renewal of our Baptismal vision of others (enlightened discipleship) makes us see him present in difficult people and situations. How long has it been since your last good Confession? Over one year is too long for an official minister in the Church.
When you attend a formation session you are expected to bring your personal Bible. Remember also to bring your signed and sealed Application Form and a light lunch or snack.
Ministers of Holy Communion:
Diocesan Renewal & the New Evangelization
According to the official teaching of the Catholic Church, liturgical formation is to focus on foundational Sacred Scripture (Bible), History, Theology, and connect these with daily living (spirituality via the social sciences). St John Paul and Pope Francis, have personally added a very significant need: living the Holy Eucharist from the perspective of social justice.
For the above reasons Buffalo Diocesan sessions are no longer referred to as “training.” Sessions set aside time for practice of the ministry, only after an in-depth examination of the above Church teaching as ground for personal and professional knowledge. This is the reason formation sessions last between 4-6 hours. These formation sessions are more than reviewing “dos-and-don’ts.” Include the “why” of assisting the priest and deacon in serving Holy Communion, they address the “how” of Eucharistic living.
Most employees in any enterprise participate in regular updates, refreshers, or continuing ed. Catholic liturgical ministers also need to grow in their knowledge and love of Jesus, including those trained more than 10 years ago. Many MHC trained long ago have found participation at these formation sessions to be informative and inspiring.
From the practical or “how to” perspective, formation sessions concretely define and practice “hands-on” reverence. The same popes cited above, along with Bishop Malone are committed to liturgy as beautiful action, an inspiring encounter with Jesus through the priest, his deacon and ministers. Teamwork analogously leading to an unforgettably, awesome “football pass,” or “symphony concert,” takes much practice and even more mindful attentiveness. Analogously, the same is true of a well versed, honed, and reverent liturgical minister. When knowledge of the tools of the trade binds with informed, conscious, competent and reverent usage, beauty is revealed as the presence of God. As stated at the very beginning of the introduction to Roman Missal III:
…a sense of the greatest reverence and adoration strives for realization in the Eucharistic liturgy (3).
The Eucharistic liturgy is carried out by means of perceptible signs by which the faith is nourished, strengthened, and expressed, the greatest care is to be taken that those forms and elements…more effectively foster active participation and more aptly respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful (20).
The Bishop should therefore be determined that the Priests, the Deacons, and the lay Christian faithful grasp evermore deeply the significance of the rites and liturgical texts…. (22c)
Rev. Seán Paul Fleming
Director, Diocese of Buffalo Office of Worship
Phone: (716) 847-5545
Fax: (716) 847-2206