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Facing a liturgy-starved church: do we need to think afresh about the basics of ministry?

O'Loughlin, Thomas

Facing a liturgy-starved church: do we need to think afresh about the basics of ministry? Thumbnail


Thomas O'Loughlin


The Catholic Church cannot, at present, find sufficient clergy to staff its parishes and this is provoking a massive pastoral, and so a liturgical, reorganization. However, these changes are not primarily driven by the demography of the actual churches, communities of people, but are solely the result of a decline in clerical numbers. Most attempts to deal with this turn on seeking to increase the number of deployable persons in presbyterial orders (e.g. seeking clergy from Africa or India), making a wider use of deacons, and scaling up the size of liturgical communities, irrespective of the nature of that liturgy, so that areas are ‘covered.’ But this assumes that actual communities, when gathered for the eucharist, are a function of the number of clergy; but surely the number of ministers is secondary to the location and size of the communities who are in need of ministry? This paper seeks to ask fundamental questions about the nature of liturgical ministry in keeping with the conference's theme of ‘who ministers what to whom?’ What is the basis of liturgical ministry? Does it exist independently of a worshipping community? Is it primarily as an individual's ‘vocation’ to ‘be a priest’, who then ministers, or a community need provided from within that community in union with the larger church? This ‘bottom up’ approach affects how we see not only actual liturgical ministry, but the priesthood of the Christ, the priesthood of all the baptized, and our pneumatology of vocation within actual churches.


O'Loughlin, T. (2019). Facing a liturgy-starved church: do we need to think afresh about the basics of ministry?. New Blackfriars, 100(1086), 171-183.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 3, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 29, 2018
Publication Date Mar 1, 2019
Deposit Date Nov 6, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 30, 2020
Journal New Blackfriars
Print ISSN 0028-4289
Electronic ISSN 1741-2005
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 100
Issue 1086
Pages 171-183
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the article, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.


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