From Deacon Dick
Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest
(Republished from Bulletin of October 23, 2016)
We pray that the day never comes when we unexpectedly do not have a priest to preside at a weekend Liturgy. However, experience teaches us that emergencies arise and it is possible that this might happen at the last minute. In fact, I have had this experience several times during my diaconal ministry and it occurs from time to time throughout our Diocese.
A number of years ago, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops published a Rite entitled: “Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest.” This Rite may be led by a deacon or a layperson. I share with you a letter from Bishop Scharfenberger that is to be read at the beginning of the Rite:
“Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Because there is no priest available, under very carefully proscribed circumstances, I have given permission for a Sunday liturgy to take place without the Eucharist.
Instead, today this community will celebrate the Liturgy of the Word led by a deacon or lay person who has been prepared for this ministry. It is possible that Holy Communion may also be offered.
In your prayers today, I ask that you place before God, most especially, the need to have priests to serve and lead our people. Please know that participation in this celebration fulfills your Sunday obligation.
Thank you for your faithfulness in observing Sunday as the Day of the Lord.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Edward B. Scharfenberger, Bishop of Albany”
To prepare for this eventuality, every parish in the Albany Diocese is asked to train ministers as presiders when there is no priest or deacon available. Accordingly, we are deeply grateful to the following disciples who have responded to this ministry of service: Ray Cecot, Leon Hovish, Bill Mielke, Terry Ryan, and Ron Wood. Please join me in thanking these faithful servants of the Lord!