Non Solum: Placement of Announcements

Today’s Question: Placement of Announcements

The authoritative sources say that announcements belong after the Post-Communion Prayer and before the final blessing and dismissal; however, this is not always where they are placed. Often times announcements are also given before Mass begins, after the Prayers of the Faithful, and after Communion but before the Post-Communion Prayer. While the opportunity for commentary at several points in the Mass does suggest these other places could warrant announcements, it seems to me that if you are going to do announcements they are best done after the Post-Communion Prayer. However, if announcements are done at this time, often the assembly will sit, creating a somewhat convoluted stand up-sit down-stand up routine. To avoid this, priests in some parishes pray the Post-Communion Prayer seated so that people do not have to stand up to pray and sit down again for the announcements. This solution seems less than desirable to me. What are your thoughts?  What does your parish do, and why? Please comment below.

Moderator’s note: “Non solum” is a feature at Pray Tell for our readership community to discuss practical liturgical issues. The title comes from article 11 of the Vatican II liturgy constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: “Therefore there is to be vigilance among holy pastors that in liturgical action not only are laws for valid and licit celebration to be observed, but that the faithful should participate knowingly, actively, and fruitfully.” (Ideo sacris pastoribus advigilandum est ut in actione liturgica non solum observentur leges ad validam et licitam celebrationem, sed ut fideles scienter, actuose et fructuose eandem participent.) May the series contribute to good liturgical practice – not only following the law, but especially grasping the spirit of the liturgy!

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27 comments

  1. We make sure our announcements are very short, so people can stay standing through them with no problem. They can get details in the bulletin on their way out.

  2. Perhaps, if they’re after the post-Communion Prayer, the assembly could just remain standing. The added benefit would be the added pressure to keep the announcements short.

  3. I used to be one of the countless priests who did the announcements immediately following the distribution of Communion. It made a lot of sense because the people had just been seated after standing and kneeling throughout the procession. But when I was making the transition to RM3, the thought occurred to me to come up with a way to pray the postcommunion prior to the announcements. This is what I did. Following Communion, the CM’s bring the remaining portions of the Bread of Life to the altar where it is consolidated into the larger bowl we started with. The deacon and I reverence the Blessed Sacrament and he takes it to the tabernacle in the chapel that is clearly visible from the church. All eyes are on the tabernacle as he reposes the Sacrament. Then turning to the altar, while the people are still kneeling, I pray the postcommunion oration. Then I invite the people to be seated and thereafter comes the announcements. At their conclusion, I greet the people and they stand for the blessing and dismissal. There is no rubric requiring the postcommunion to be done from the chair, nor one that demands that the people be standing. It works well here.

  4. We have pre-announcements and post-announcements.

    Our parish is high on visitors and tourists, so the pre-announcements are necessary to welcome people, explain the processions, the norms of our archdiocese, etc. Plus it gives a chance to explain things like “today, we have a second collection…” “today we welcome the family and friends of Pat and Jamie Smith, who are presenting their child for baptism…”

    Regarding the post-announcement: we it exactly as the rubrics say. If there’s a healthy pause after the priest says “Let us pray” the stand up and sit down kills no one. I’ll note that our archdiocese requires everyone to remain standing until the last person receives communion. It’s the sitting that takes a few moments, not the standing for the prayer.

    (So to Father Jack in #3, I’d imagine everyone could be standing. At least what you describe would work very well in our diocese.)

  5. Announcements should be safe, legal and rare. Triage them vigorously and then cut even further. Anything that is in the bulletin, or that could feasibly be signed or announced by ushers at entrances/exits (like the presence and location of coffee hour….), should not be repeated or reinforced via announcement in the liturgical time designated by the Missal. In other words, put more of this into the work of hospitality, not the liturgy itself. People engaging folks in the vestibule tends to be FAR more effective.

    Bishops’ appeals can be screened during coffee hour, too, cough cough. And so can reports of the finance committee, with opportunity for active Q&A (financial reports *during* liturgy do injustice both to the liturgy and to community oversight of financial mgmt; a perfect example of bureaucratic sub-optimization.)

    Announcements should especially not be the laundry list of ordinary ministerial and apostolate activities.

  6. A few parishes that I’ve been to for Sunday Mass have had the announcements before Mass. My only problem with this, is that they seem to come directly from the bulletins themselves.
    My own preference is the post-communion spot, and that they’re brief.

  7. Well the first place for all announcements should be on the parish website.
    I would like to see all parishes list on their websites a month in advance: any variable music for their liturgies (e.g. the hymns), any variable choirs (e.g. if the choirs rotate among the masses) and any variable priests, and any special liturgical events.

    A good way of during much of this is to have a liturgical calendar for each month which can also be used as a bulletin insert the Sunday preceding the month for those who do not use the internet. I participate extensively in the local Orthodox parish largely through the monthly calendar on their website.

    This section of the website would be a good place for links to all sorts of liturgical and scriptural catechesis for the coming month.

    Many parishes now put their bulletins on their website. Preferably this should be done at least by the end of the day Friday for the coming weekend. Many of us would rather not have a paper copy or to wait until Mass to read the information in the Bulletin. I usually read several church bulletins of local parishes as part of deciding were to worship the coming weekend.

    What I would like to receive when I enter for liturgy is a one page, usually folded, piece of paper which has all the information I need for the liturgy, e.g. hymn numbers, refrains, any special instructions. The local Orthodox parish does this for the Propers which include markers for chant inflections.

    The Bulletin should be available before and after Mass for those who do not use the internet.

    If the parish has a well developed website, a bulletin in both website and paper form, and a well stocked “flyers” area in the narthex for information from the website for those who do not use the web, then very few announcements are likely to be necessary except for last minute changes.

    Very brief reminders “the blood drive this afternoon, the bake sale after Mass, the children’s program this Wednesay” can be mentioned without elaboration right at the dismissal as some of the things we are being sent forth to do.

    People can look up the details in the bulletin or on the website, or ask their neighbors or hospitality ministers as they exit.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #6:
      I agree. I especially commend posting orders of music and worship, and the celebrant priest/homilist, in advance; the fact that there might be last-minute changes is not a credible reason to avoid this.

      In the Northeast, most Catholic parish websites are poor or mediocre; I feel my extensive sampling and resampling over the years is a reasonable basis for this admittedly broad brush statement. They especially do not even deign to appeal to seekers. Very poor sense of the place, its worship, or the community. The embrace of the Internet is, typically, begrudging or an afterthought. My old parish was a parish where a very famous Internet-based technology company was founded, and when a new pastor came on a few years ago, I mentioned that you’d never know that it was a parish in one of the most wired zip codes of the USA; the pastor acknowledged the feebleness of the parish website, and mouthed some platitudes, but it’s only gotten worse in the years since then. I came later to understand why. People offer all sorts of rationalizations as reasons.

      Oh, and if you happen to be a good homilist, promptly publishing your homilies would be *very* welcome. Some of us actually like to contemplate and reflect repeatedly on good preaching. (One of the delights of living in the Boston area used to be the ability to leave Mass and then listen to the preaching of the late great Peter Gomes from Harvard’s Memorial Church at midday on Sunday on the radio – the public radio stations in the area long offered varied options for listening to local preaching on Sunday mornings. Anyway, it was lovely when Harvard publishing his annual collections of sermons.)

  8. Here, announcements are always made before mass by one of the sacristans, and they typically include:

    1. Welcoming

    2. Brief reminders/Advertisements of upcoming events, activities, etc.

    3. This: For those who are non-Catholics or unable to receive at this time, we invite you to come forward for a blessing by crossing your arms over your chest like this [demonstration]. For those receiving, please consume the host immediately.

    4. Announcement of the celebrant of the mass (as we have four priests), and the opening hymn.

    On some occasions, the presiding priest makes additional announcements — usually special greetings to visitors, e.g., visiting mothers during mom’s weekend — after the Post-Communion Prayer and before the final blessing and dismissal, during which the priest sometimes asks us to sit down (again).

    All this to say: I don’t really mind the way things are done around here, although I do find the wording of #3 a bit… odd.

    1. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #9:
      In places where I’ve seen your method used, it worked very well (We did it your way in my former parish, but it was done by a lecor. Very infrequently, because of the special nature of some liturgies, we used a “Commentator” for this role.) Doing this before Mass helped ‘settle’ people down, give them a few moments to switch gears to begin to focus on the liturgy about to begin. There would be a short period of silence between these announcements/welcome and the announcement of the ‘opening hymn’.

    2. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #9:
      It’s interesting that you announce who the celebrant is. Visitors might find that information helpful and orienting, but it also places undue emphasis on the presider. It reminds me of, “and here’s your host, Bob Barker!!!”

  9. KLS #8

    I second the homily publication idea. A local pastor who is a scripture scholar regularly published them on the parish website and now has collected them on his personal website.

    http://buildingontheword.org/homilies/

    Unfortunately we are drowning in mediocrity whether it be websites, homilies, or music. I love Francis’s image from this morning’s Mass of the minister standing before the closed doors of the church, keeping people out, the Lord in, and failing to enter himself!

  10. To me, announcements reflect a vibrant community. At times it is a hubris parade with what is important to the pastor getting time and congregations getting short changed in what they want to know about their community.

    If over 90% of the parish is only involved on Sunday at Mass, why wouldn’t there be an acceptance of “news for the pews.” But realize that if announcements are done poorly, they can be as well received as a poorly done homily. I have sat and stood during some good ones, and bad ones.

  11. I agree with everything Ed says (#11).
    In our parish (don’t faint!) we follow the post-communion prayer with a hymn of thanksgiving (yes, I know where it’s “supposed to” go). Announcements and blessing/dismissal follow, then a simple postlude so that people can leave immediately after being dismissed. It works, it’s borrowed from mainline Protestants, and everyone is happy.

  12. Maybe inadequate websites could be improved by asking geeky young parishioners to give some volunteer help/advice to revise and maintain them. (This assumes, of course, that there are some geeky, young parishioners around. Sigh.)

  13. I have to say that there is very little correlation between vibrancy of a community and the vibrancy of its announcements. If anything, it seems that vibrant announcements allow people to think the community is more vibrant than it actually is.

  14. Announcements at Mass are one valid tool among many for communicating with parishioners, guests and visitors. If your only plan is to put everything in the bulletin, you are not reaching the large majority of your people. On average, only 25-30% of parishioners attend Mass on any given weekend, and I’ve heard that 50% of them do not take or read a bulletin at all, much less read it cover to cover. Unless you are satisfied reaching just 15% of your people, you need to use additional avenues: website, Facebook, electronic (email) newsletters, indoor and outdoor signage, and carefully-constructed announcements.

    There’s also the idea of multi-modal communication. When Anheuser-Busch rolls out a new product, I’ll hear about that product hundreds of times in many different ways: print advertising (highway billboards, newspapers, point-of-sale signage, signs on busses and bus stops, signage at multiple public events, sports, festivals) traditional media advertising (various television & cable stations, radio stations) new media advertising (ads on of websites, Facebook and other social media ads, email ads). Even signs towed behind airplanes, hot air balloons, lit-up billboards on trailers towed around city streets, and people standing on street corners passing out t-shirts and hats with the new logo.) When AB introduced Lime-a-Rita, I read that their marketing department wanted people in their key demographic to see the product *a minimum of 1000 times* within a three-month window. It was everywhere that summer. AB invests over $1 billion each year in the U.S. alone to keep their products at the top of our minds.

    Marketing beer is of course different than trying to get people to attend your upcoming Vatican II discussion series. But there’s something to learn about using multiple channels of communication and the importance of repetition. And certainly about the folly of saying, “We don’t need to announce it, they can read it in the bulletin.”

  15. I very much agree with Scott’s comments. I am the keeper of the parish Facebook page, launched in May in conjunction with the renovation of the 1911 church. In 1969, during the previous renovation, people were shooed from the building after the last Mass on a Sunday and weren’t allowed back in during construction. Some 18 months later, when parishioners returned to their “modernized” building (and the poor church was supposed to be the regional model, aka, guinea pig for renovations), they wept–and not from happiness. Nobody on the staff wanted a repeat of that parish memory.
    In addition to renovation news and thousands of pictures (people love to look at paint samples and carpentry in action), I pluck the general announcements from my paper copy of the bulletin and post them. We are inundated with messages every day; repetition and reinforcement are a necessity. The Facebook site has proven extremely popular and helpful in getting the word out about what’s happening at the parish.
    In a parish of 1100 familes, 523 individuals and families have LIKED us, and our posts average an audience of about 250.
    Some announcements really spike activity. A well-known couple celebrated their 50th anniversary last Saturday, and that post reached 2365 people. Even our announcement about the Human Trafficking lecture on Sunday has reached more than 700, a much broader distribution than the 7 members of our Social Justice Commission could ever generate on their own.
    As for announcements–just before the final blessing and the blessing, although I fear that many in the pews are getting too antsy to pay much attention to them.

  16. I like the use of Facebook by Rachael(#19). This is a great example of the power of social media. For those who do not use it, one idea that i have seen at both Catholic and Evangelical churches is the use of power point on screens. It not only shows the announcements from the bulletin but notices about crying babies; locations of restrooms and first aid; silencing of cell phones, etc. We then have the cantor greet everyone; welcome and invite visitors to stand to be acknowledged(applause) and then everyone is invited to stand and greet one another. This is then followed by the opening song.
    NO, there is no need to announce who is presiding…everyone knows it is Christ Himself! right on, Scott #18.
    For those who have announcements after Communion, I like fr Jack’s idea (#3) BUT I still believe that it can be done by a lector or deacon.
    At my former parish, my pastor would once in a while do his PSA’s right before Mass begun in his alb and stole in front of the sanctuary.

      1. @Fr. Ron Krisman – comment #23:
        PSA = public service announcements

        The pastor made me the czar of announcements. I edit ruthlessly. I ask people if they’ve gone through all other venues for announcements. Announcements aren’t times to tell you which committee is sponsoring or how much it will cost or anything that’s not memorable.

        It will take a set of parishioners a few years to check the parish Facebook and such, but if a community was serious about using Twitter to keep people in-the-know, it would revolutionize the whole deal.

  17. Tom may be the Czar of announcements, but I am the Tsar of them at my parish. I am given lots of freedom and keep them limited to very short bullets. Only once in a while do the clergy change them and the staff works very hard to not use the mass as a PR vehicle for their program or event. Our parish organizations also abide by this and they are given access to many options for communicating their events and programs.

    We use a set welcoming script that is presented before Mass to welcome folks, and give some basic information (i.e. worship aid, hymnal, mass intention and if there is a second collection followed by an invitation for everyone to stand and introduce themselves to those around them.) Most of our masses are filled with anywhere from 25% to 60 % visitors or infrequent worshippers, so it is necessary for our parish to do this. We do not have a large narthex or gathering space to really welcome people individually, people enter through one of three entrances into the worship space and doing it outside is not really an option most of the year.

    The parish announcements follow the Universal Prayers as the offertory is collected. If there is a second collection this is made again. This is followed but an invitation to take home a bulletin or look at our web page to find out more information on … (Three or four things are listed i.e. information about the Bishop’s appeal, the Free Trade Chocolate Festival after Mass in the gym, the organ concert Sunday afternoon, etc) but only if all are invited. If we know that only a small group will attend, then it does not get announced. We do, however, remind folks after specific masses if there is an education opportunity for them (i.e. today’s adultED class will focus on the Pope’s recent interview.) but otherwise hardly ever do we read the bulletin at the announcements. Immediately after the announcements, the music begins and the altar is prepared with the gifts being presented from the people.

  18. The parish utilizes a monthly, e-newsletter, daily updated web page, twitter, facebook, etc. (see http://www.staustin.org) It really works quite well with our community. I also make sure the newspapers get our information about special events. They publish them on Saturday in a “religious” section. The events are submitted to local event web pages and press releases, when appropriate, are sent to local classical music station and PR station. The parish also has a few volunteers who like to do graphic and design many of our posters. (See the web page for these designs.) These are posted in many places around the campus, anywhere where people congregate and pass by and sent via e-mail to other churches in the area.

    We moved our announcements from the usual spot after the Communion prayer to enable several things to happen. (1) During some seasons we will linger a bit more with silence and with no announcements the presider doesn’t feel rushed to “move it along.” (2) We also want our dismissal not to be to some event, class, fellowship, organization meeting or program, but out to the world. We want the last words to be a sending forth to carry on the mission of Christ. (3) Those who pop out after communion will still hear the important announcements. (4) It is a less wordy ending to Mass.

    We have been doing this for about three years now and it seems to work very well. However, we do not look at this as an accomplished goal, but one that is highly organic and ever changing.

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