Notre Dame Center for Liturgy launches liturgical leadership program with focus on Eucharistic culture

By Anna Bradley

Mathis ProgramMathis Program

Notre Dame, IN — The Notre Dame Center for Liturgy (NDCL) at the McGrath Institute for Church Life is launching a new initiative in 2022, The Mathis Liturgical Leadership Program (MLLP), to mark its 50th anniversary. 

The Mathis Liturgical Leadership Program identifies every two years a major pastoral issue facing the Church that intersects with the liturgical-sacramental life. The Center intends to design a two year formation program for 10-15 church leaders consisting of a hybrid process of education and formation. The program will be fully funded by the Center and scholarships will be provided to leaders invited from select dioceses. At the conclusion of the program, the church leader will propose a project, teaching resource, or publication. Mathis Liturgical Leaders will also become ambassadors of the NDCL throughout the United States.  

From 2022-2024, NDCL’s focus will be on fostering a Eucharistic culture in parishes, schools, and dioceses as a way of promoting deeper affiliation with the Church. This is in keeping with the USCCB’s initiative to deepen devotion to the Real Presence, with which the McGrath Institute partners. 

“Culture is everything in parish life,” says Tim O’Malley, academic director of the Center for Liturgy. “By culture, we mean the worldview and practices that the parish shares in common. A parish is not a bureaucracy but a communion of love made possible through the self-giving love of Jesus Christ. A Eucharistic culture lives out this communion in love in every aspect of parish life. Learning to foster this culture in a parish is the ultimate end of a Eucharistic revival, one that can heal the many divisions that exist in Church and society alike.”  

The program will begin with a five day conference held at the University of Notre Dame filled with occasions for prayer and deeper reflection on what constitutes a Eucharistic culture. The summer launch will be followed in the fall by a six week module that will take up the first dimension of a Eucharistic culture: inculturated reverence. Participants will study the nature of reverence in Eucharistic worship while also attending to the various ways that this reverence can be expressed in different cultures. 

Spring of 2023 will consist of another six week module that will take up the second dimension of a Eucharistic culture: integral catechesis. Summer programming will include a conference in Rome where participants will have a chance to meet ecclesial leaders, visit churches, and focus closely on the role of secularization in affiliation and disaffiliation, as well as the intersection of liturgy and the arts. 

The second year of the conference will focus on the third and fourth dimensions of Eucharistic culture: Eucharistic solidarity and popular Catholicism and devotional life. During the spring semester of 2023 participants will travel to San Antonio, TX to meet with ecclesial leaders in the diocese and visit pilgrimage sites. Participants will assess the robustness of popular Catholicism in their context after this visit. 

The program will culminate in summer of 2024 with capstone project presentations at Notre Dame. NDCL staff will shepherd projects to publication for future parish courses and help set participants up to speak in various dioceses and parishes around the United States, serving as ambassadors.

According to O’Malley, “What we’re hoping for is to contribute anew to the liturgical movement in the United States. The early liturgical movement was not only concerned about the rites of the Church but fostering a liturgical life. They wanted everyone to understand that active participation led to personal and social transformations. The worker who saw her life as a sacrifice of praise. The dad who knew that parenting was a Eucharistic vocation. A new generation of liturgical leaders in the United States—those concerned about affiliation and reaching out to the margins—have their work cut out for them. Our dream is that the Center for Liturgy will contribute anew to the renewal of ecclesial life in the United States through a liturgical formation that leads to deeper affiliation in the Church.”

More information about The Mathis Liturgical Leadership Program can be found at mcgrath.nd.edu/mllp.

Contact: Brett Robinson, director of communications, 574-631-6109, brobins6@nd.edu