A colleague of mine works as director of music in a large Roman Catholic parish. She is one of many who has been working tirelessly to prepare parishioners for the new missal translation. She wrote me this week to share her frustrations, and with her permission, I share her words with you:

So there is a definite segment of the congregation at my parish that does not participate in the liturgy. I can best compare them to an appliance with an on/off button that corresponds to when they sit and stand. They do not use any resources or hymnals. You know the type…they could almost just be a part of the furniture.

Well, with the new translation stuff coming, I have put a lot of stuff into play: we have started the new music and I continue to review the Gloria before all masses; we have supplements in the back of hymnals with the revised texts and music and I have the worship aids which contain information as well… People have also had the opportunity to get pew cards with changes though attending workshops and we offered the hymnal supplements for sale for those that want their own personal copy. I’ve run bulletin announcements and made pulpit announcements about joining the choir and coming to rehearsal to learn the mass parts for anyone that is interested.

The “furniture people” are a bit of a concern as this approaches. I feel like we have a large variety of resources available to suit different “types.” The trick is getting them to use them.

Any ideas on what I can do to get people to participate more actively?

I imagine many of us can relate to the situation she describes. I would love to get the collective wisdom of the Pray Tell readership on a couple of questions she brings up.

One, with can my colleague do to reach those people who seem completely uninterested? Does she need to do anything?

Two, what can we do for such congregation members in general?