LITURGY MATTERS: Mystery and Mission

On the 28-30 September members of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Liturgy Council and other members of the diocesan community descended upon Brisbane for the National Liturgy and Music Conference, along with 500 others from around Australia and the Pacific.

The conference was a joint endeavour of the Australian Pastoral Musicians Network (APMN) and the National Liturgical Council (NLC) of the Australian Bishops’ Conference. The theme of this years’ conference was “Mystery & Mission – The Art of Liturgical Celebration”.

The conference coincided with the 60 years since Vatican II’s Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy was promulgated by Pope Paul VI. What a perfect time to come together in our rich diversity – liturgists, musicians and educators – to share the opportunity for deep personal and professional formation and learning. Everyone left feeling energised for the future and full of hope and purpose, albeit somewhat challenged.

Some of the highlights included:

  • Thought provoking keynote and guest speakers including Timothy O’Malley (USA), Sarah Hart (musician, USA), Rev Dr Tom Elich (Liturgy Brisbane), Associate Professor Maeve Louise Heaney (ACU), Dr Jason McFarland (ACU) and Cathy Murrowood (ACU).
  • Inspirational experiences in prayer and liturgy, through the Morning and Evening Prayer of the Church and the enlivened Conference Mass in St Stephen’s Cathedral
  • First Nations powerful integration of spirituality, ritual and symbol throughout.
  • Workshops on liturgical music, liturgy as evangelisation, liturgies with children, families and young people, liturgical proclamation, copyright, hospitality and masterclasses for musicians.

Attendees from the Church of Maitland-Newcastle shared the following reflections:

“To move towards mission, we need to seek connection and 'shift our gaze outwards'; we are called to be an evangelising church which means reflecting on how we are making connections in the pursuit of social transformation, particularly in schools; as Evanglii Guadium (The Joy of the Gospel) (217-237) states: time is greater than space, realities are greater than ideas, unity prevails over conflict, and the whole is greater than the part” - best quote ever from Pope Francis (especially for a physics teacher!)” – Amber Carter

“Seek connection, not just connection by evangelising but with our own teams within the diocese.  Lean on each other, learn what our neighbouring parishes are doing.  At Michael Mangan’s talk - ‘family friendly liturgy’ he mentioned a way to connect is through ‘food, fun and friendships’.  He also mentioned about not only welcoming new families but following up the next week with how their week how been" – Monique Crick  

“A rethinking of the ‘secular’ age, a fresh understanding of the merging of Aboriginal spirituality with Christian understanding and the liturgy, and the importance of the document Desiderio Desideravi (the Apostolic Letter from Pope Francis on the Liturgical Formation of the People of God) and a decision to introduce this to the local liturgical group” – Cathy White

“It was amazing to be a part of the mass and vespers. You hear it all the time, that the Catholic church is universal, but being there, where everyone, truly were full and active participants of the celebration, it brings about a feeling of wonder and awe. Keynote speaker, Tom Elich reflected on the last 60 years since Sacrosanctum Concilium and it dawned on me that the church has been navigating ever-changing waters, with obstacles to sometimes avoid and sometimes tackle. We have come a long way since then and we still have a long way to go. I am greatly appreciative of the friendship and mentorship of each member of the Diocesan Liturgy Council (DLC) here at Maitland-Newcastle. I had not realised how much 'fun' we have but it became apparent when we delivered our workshop "What the hell are we doing and why?". – Daniel Lee

“The one takeaway that we thought was most important to us as Music educators is the fact that music plays such an important role in building relationships within the whole school. Music ministry is so reliant on the music team and the music teachers that the rest of the school have no connection with this. We are working further toward including and inviting our whole college to be part of the music in liturgies, prayer services and Masses. We walked away with specific ideas, strategies and practical activities to help us build this. We got to know some very successful composers and musicians and we also play the music of some of these composers. We also spoke with teachers within schools from around Australia and we now have contacts for anything that we may need as a foundation school. The variety of music that is available to us as a school to engage the youth more. We were actively involved during our workshops – practical advice and so much creativity. - Louiza Mavros and Elyse North

You can see we all had the most amazing experience. We look forward to the next conference in 2025. Maybe we will see you there?

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Fiona Duque Image
Fiona Duque

Fiona is the Pastoral Ministries Officer - Worship and Prayer.

Formerly, she was the Ministry Coordinator and Religious Studies Coordinator at St Bede's Catholic College, Chisholm.