Mining some of the synod results from around the world’s Catholic web sites, I found a news item of an address delivered by an Australian bishop, Wollongong’s Peter Ingham.
If the Liturgy of the Word is to be given the chance to arrest the attention of the Liturgical Assembly, the selection of suitable and competent people to proclaim the Word of God is vital. This is not a ministry just any one can exercise.
Liturgical readers can well learn better vocal communication skills by observing the general clarity, the enunciation and the good diction of radio announcers, TV presenters and stage professionals so as to become more proficient announcers themselves of the saving message of God.
Bishop Ingham conceded that many clergy lack the necessary skills to proclaim the Scriptures effectively. He also noted that more background in understanding a biblical text was needed, citing that the key idea of a Lectionary selection may be overlooked by the lector or priest, and the people in turn, may miss it too.
In my days as a radio announcer, I had to prepare in order to do a good job. One of the more demanding bits was the turnaround from engineering the 4:30 to 5:00 local news broadcast to reading a news summary from 5:06 to 5:09 after the network news feed at the top of the hour. Our station manager instituted a new policy that our news staff was free of that three-minute spot and the board op would cover. I had six minutes to review the news staff’s text, edit what I thought was important, and take a quick check of the news wire to see if a regional story might be of interest. Plus a public service announcement and a weather report.
My amendment to Bishop Ingham’s suggestion is to listen to a documentary announcer’s delivery. It’s a carefully texted script. It’s done in a studio with retakes to get the very best result. If you can imitate it in the ambo, you’ll be doing very well indeed.
“How do you and I become a better proclaimer of God’s Word?” Bishop Ingham asked.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!