Catholic schools introduce Missal in curriculum

November 8, 2011

HOUSTON — Just as parishes around the Archdiocese — and the nation — become oriented to changes in the Roman Missal, the Catholic schools of Galveston-Houston have also tackled the challenges and opportunities offered through this revised translation.

Preparation for the Roman Missal has been a priority for the teachers and administrators in the local Catholic schools, according to Superintendent of Catholic Schools Sister Kevina Keating, CCVI. Numerous educators have taken advantage of workshops offered by the Archdiocese as well as special offerings by the Catholic Schools Office.

“Our students are looking forward to being ‘full, active and conscious’ participants in a new way when the First Sunday of Advent arrives,” she said.
Sister Keating said the past several months of preparation “have been a wonderful opportunity to renew our knowledge and love of the liturgical life of the Church as school communities.”

“Our key focus in all of this preparation has been to open up the richness of the liturgy to our young people, to bring life to liturgy and liturgy to life in a seamless way,” Sister Keating said. “Students have a great sense of flexibility and like the challenge of using new words and phrases, and they do it well.”

Preparation at high school, elementary campuses
The Office for Campus Ministry at St. Pius X High School began preparing curriculum materials last school year and this past June, started an extensive preparation outline for classroom instruction this Fall. Students are learning about the new changes and revisions in the Missal through a 10-week formation process that includes the history, theology, liturgical rubrics and practical application of the Roman Missal, said Patrick Spedale, campus ministry director.

Spedale said the materials and resources are designed for use as a supplemental curriculum for all theology classes (grades 9-12) simultaneously.

The process includes review and discussion of printed resources, viewing videos and streaming, as well as guided tours and explanations of sacred space, vessels, furnishing and other items used for sacred worship.

St. Pius X, a co-ed high school, will begin using some of the new musical settings and acclamations in November with the celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints.

“At a school under the patronage of Pope Pius X, a great lover and reformer of Liturgy himself as well as patron saint of Sacred Musicians, it has always been our earnest goal to be intentional in our formation, preparation and celebration of sacred Liturgy and sacred music,” Spedale said. “We hope to provide ongoing catechesis and formation opportunities to our entire community in this revision of the missal as well. We know that parishes are also providing strong formation and catechesis in the revision in various ways and we are committed to doing our part as well.”

St. Theresa School at Memorial Park in Houston (co-ed, pre-K3 through eighth grade) is approaching the new implementation from three directions: catechesis of faculty and staff; continuing education of parents; and implementation with the students, said Sandra Derby, principal.

“We are also committed not to have this be solely a preparation for the ‘launch’ of the new texts Nov. 27, but a year of study and renewal about the Liturgy,” she said. “Because a large percentage of our school population are not members of St. Theresa parish, but belong to other parishes, we wanted to be sure that parents were hearing what their kids are hearing — and that they have the full opportunity to receive as much information and formation as they can.”

The music side of the Missal
Music ministers at St. Pius X have adapted accordingly to learning new text and lyrics.

“We chose to learn a revised setting of the service music and acclamations we have been using,” Spedale said. “We celebrate all-school liturgy once a month and the idea of using a revised setting of a Mass we currently use seemed, in our evaluation, to be the transition that would work best for our campus. It will certainly be a while before we can sing the new text with complete familiarity, memorization and ease of flow, but that will come in time.”

In October, new music settings for the Mass were taught in all of the music classes at St. Theresa – a school that opted for new settings for their Liturgy. This month, the school began using the setting during the school Liturgy.

“Because music is such a mnemonic, we chose to go with a completely different setting,” Derby said. “The new melodies signal that something new is happening. But, as children sing and learn these new musical settings, they will also identify and remember the new texts more easily.”

The principal said the setting was introduced with great enthusiasm — “and has been met with enthusiasm. We have also capitalized on the fact that we are making this change during the First Sunday of Advent — a season of joyful expectation. As the First Sunday of Advent draws closer, we will turn our focus and attention a bit more on the change in words themselves – and we will celebrate it.” †