Long Island Communion Services To End

CNS picks up this story as today’s headliner, that Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre (Long Island) has ordered an end to Communion services that replace daily Mass on a parish schedule. Liturgy that brings Communion to the sick is still permitted. Deadline: July 1st.

I’ve agreed with this position for years. Communion services are a modern invention. I’m not convinced  they are worthy to be added to an ordinary schedule in a parish. Even liturgies in which communion is distributed to the sick are rooted, in theory, in the community’s celebration of Eucharist.

Many bishops are reticent about ending a practice that contributes to the devotion (or the attendance) of lay people at parish daily prayer. Bishop Murphy will have some complainers, no doubt. His clergy will field a lot of that. I was a little bothered by some of the clergy comments reported:

Father Lawrence Duncklee, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Inwood, N.Y., had prepared a statement for the parish staff in anticipation of the letter. He said he had observed “a great disrespect for the Eucharist” in some parts of the diocese.

“What I’ve taught for the 28 years I’ve been a priest is that the Mass is the celebration of the community,” he said. “So the body of Christ which we consecrate is the body of Christ which we become.”

Father Charles M. Ehrhart:

“It’s extremely timely,” he said. “It’s very, very apropos in the attempt to avoid abuses of the sacrament.”

I think it’s one thing to examine a practice begun with good intentions for the spiritual benefit of the Church and make a serious discernment twenty, thirty years out. It’s another to cloud the issue by lobbing unwarranted criticism. A few non-clergy opinions would have been a welcome inclusion to the story.

The bishop had a proper sense of gratitude:

This new policy must not be seen as ‘taking something away’ from the laity. Those persons, lay and religious, who have led such celebrations in their parishes are to be thanked for the reverent way they have conducted these services.

What’s the alternative? Liturgy of the Hours.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Long Island Communion Services To End

  1. Anne says:

    “What’s the alternative? Liturgy of the Hours.”

    I agree but the challenge is getting those daily mass people to accept morning prayer over receiving communion. The norm at my former parish on Father’s day off meant a lay led communion service Father thought he was empowering the laity. I disagreed with him. He was sending and enforcing the wrong message.
    I hope more bishops follow Bishop Murphy’s example, of course with proper catechesis.

  2. Fr. Totton says:


    It seems there is another item we agree upon. I beleive Redemptionis Sacramentum had something to say about this practice as welll. Obviously pastoral sensetivity dictates careful explanation and catechesis, but I think this is a step in the right direction. As far as I am concerned, Liturgy of the Hours would be a fine alternative. This, of course, would require proper formation – perhaps offer classes on the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours.

  3. Jimmy Mac says:

    At least this removes the objectification of the Eucharist and returns it to the more Catholic notion of an action of the community. Once a week or a month or a quarter should keep most Catholics happy. And, in 20 years from now, when the priesthood is a shadow of today’s former self, there won’t be many Eucharists anyway. Get used to it.

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