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Collaborative celebrations of the Triduum

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The Chelmsford collaborative of St. Mary and St. John the Evangelist Parishes... describe it this way: 'All Triduum events will be celebrated with one voice!' Nicely put.

Susan
Abbott

Sacred Heart Parish in Weymouth and St. Thomas More Parish, Braintree, became a Phase III collaborative in June 2015. This year they will celebrate the beautiful liturgies of the Triduum together, for the second time. In 2014 Father Sean Connor, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, became the administrator for St. Thomas More Parish. Although there was sufficient number of priests to celebrate each Triduum service in each parish, for pastoral reasons it didn't make sense to offer liturgies in two locations. Again, this year, alternating between the two churches, there will be one celebration of the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, one Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ on Good Friday, and one Easter Vigil. The choirs of both parishes will come together to provide the music. The Chelmsford collaborative of St. Mary and St. John the Evangelist Parishes is doing the same thing. They describe it this way: "All Triduum events will be celebrated with one voice!" Nicely put.

Leading up to celebrating one Triduum, the Braintree-Weymouth parishes shared other Lenten services. The regional 5:30 p.m. daily Mass in Lent, took place at St. Thomas More Parish, but clergy from St. Jerome, St. Francis Xavier, St. Thomas More, St. Albert the Great, and Immaculate Conception parishes alternated as presiders.

Having each Triduum liturgy take place in only one church in the collaborative is not always easy. Even when insurmountable circumstances dictate the decision, it can be hard for some people to understand. Some might say, "We've never done it like this, we always have Holy Thursday here, at my church." Resistance to change often comes from the depths of hearts, rather than from a reasoned, thought-out, position. The reaction springs from the recognition that these Holy Week liturgies are at the core of our faith. They touch our minds, hearts, and souls. Letting go of Holy Thursday, the Veneration of the Cross, or the Easter Vigil can be difficult. But, no parish "owns" the Triduum and fortunately, in this archdiocese, collaborative parishes are not usually geographically far apart. Travel time from home parish to the collaborative church where a liturgy will be celebrated is not typically measured in hours. (Middleborough, Lakeville, and Rochester loom large as a possible exception to this!)

The Phase II Quincy collaborative of Sacred Heart, St. Mary and St. Ann parishes, also celebrates the Triduum "with one voice." In their collaborative bulletin, they highlight what the Triduum is and what it means. Their beautiful and inspiring description of each service explains that the Sacred Triduum -- Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil -- is not three separate liturgies, "but one reality that is spread over three days" It is, "a single liturgical celebration which commemorates the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ." In the Paschal Mystery, the emphasis is on what and who, not where. Having one church filled to capacity each night is heartening. Seeing friends of long standing alongside new faces from the other collaborative parish(es) offers hope. If we focus on evangelization -- simply sharing the Good News -- we can build up the Church. If we get it right -- and note, in Church time, that means 20, 30 or 40 years from now -- every parish church will be filled for every Mass and liturgy. For now, it's important to understand that while each parish is unique and has its own identity, there is strength in numbers. When we worship together, our singing and our responses can take the roof off!

However, not all collaboratives can celebrate the Triduum together, "with one voice." In some collaboratives, there isn't one church big enough to hold everyone. In other places, Triduum services are offered in other languages. At Immaculate Conception Parish, Stoughton, another Phase II collaborative, the Easter Vigil is celebrated bilingually at 7:30 and for the Brazilian community at 10:00 p.m.

The archdiocese's Office of Divine Worship has done a tremendous job assisting collaboratives, and all parishes, to make this liturgy prayerful, reverent, and meaningful. Guidelines on the Divine Worship webpage include adaptations for collaboratives celebrating the Triduum "with one voice." Wherever we worship on these holiest of holy days, parishioners, parish and collaborative staffs, clergy, and archdiocesan offices all recognize and celebrate the Triduum as the summit of the Liturgical Year.

SUSAN ABBOTT IS COORDINATOR OF PARISH OUTREACH FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON'S OFFICE OF PASTORAL PLANNING.

Susan Abbott is the former Coordinator of Parish Outreach for the Archdiocese of Boston's Office of Pastoral Planning.

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