WHEELING, W.Va. — Oregon Catholic Press has launched the Parishioner Personal Missal Program, offering members of parish communities the opportunity to have their own personal copy of their parish’s missal.
The aim is to help promote safe and active participation in the Mass, while at home or in church.
OCP is a not-for-profit publisher of liturgical music and worship resources, which are used in churches across the United States and are distributed worldwide.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, there was a concern among OCP staff about the needs of the faithful, said Wade Wisler, OCP publisher. When the pandemic started and churches around the country were shut down, parishes began livestreaming Masses.
“We thought, wouldn’t it be great if the parishioners could have their own personal copy of the books that they could take home and use for worship at home? And in the cases where parishes have opened back up, they could bring the books with them,” Wisler told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. “It’s a resource they could use to participate more fully in the liturgy.”
This is the first time that OCP has made the missals available to the faithful. “This is an unusual move,” Wisler said. “Of course, these are unusual times.”
Ordinarily, OCP sell the books directly to the Catholic parishes.
One of the beautiful things about the program, Wisler said, is that it allows the faithful to participant in the prayer life of the parish through livestream Mass at home and to stay safe.
“For somebody who may be in a group that is high-risk or for whatever reason didn’t feel comfortable in attending Mass in the church, they can use this resource and continue to stay connected with the parish and to participate from home.”
With the onset of flu season and the continuing pandemic, he feels it is important for people to have a resource like this. The books provide the full Lectionary readings for the Mass as well as the Order of Mass.
“And so a family that’s worshipping from home can study the readings ahead of time and really be meditating on the Scriptures and come to Mass really prepared for when the word is proclaimed in the liturgy in the livestream Mass,” he said. “Their hearts are ready to receive the word.”
An additional element of the program is that the books also provide the music for Mass. Wisler pointed to “Breaking Bread,” which is OCP’s primary annual missal that has roughly 850 hymns, psalms, Mass settings and service music.
“So families watching a Mass … can sing along and turn to that song in the book,” Wisler said, noting his own family has been doing this since the pandemic began. “We Catholics worship through music and through song. That’s been true for centuries,” he said. “The book can help people to sing as part of their worship from home.”
Wisler and his colleagues at OCP believe the books are not only good for Sunday Mass but throughout the week as well. The books have a section for morning and evening prayer in the back, and there’s music that can be part of that as well.
OCP will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2022. The organization was founded in 1922 as the Catholic Truth Society of Oregon and, at the time, was focused upon publishing apologetic pamphlets to counter the anti-Catholicism rampant at the time in Oregon.
“So the society began publishing these wonderful pamphlets that taught people about the truth and the beauty and the goodness of our faith and the church to counter some of the misinformation out there,” Wisler said.
In the 1930s, the organization began publishing bilingual Latin/English booklets to help people participate more fully in the Mass. After the 1970s, the organization became Oregon Catholic Press, shifting its focus to publishing music in the vernacular as Wisler said there was a need in the church for this in the years following the Second Vatican Council.
OCP established its Parish Grants Program in 2001 and, to date, has given more than $3 million to parishes around the country to provide direct financial assistance. OCP also supports the Archdiocese of Portland, where it is based. It publishes the Catholic Sentinel, the archdiocesan newspaper.
“It’s a mission-based, not-for-profit that’s really devoted to serving the church,” Wisler said of OCP. “And, really, our goal right now in these very difficult times is to do everything we can to help parishes, parish communities, parish ministries to continue to sustain their ministries and support the faith, prayer and worship needs of the people.”
Part of the Parishioner Personal Missal Program is looking ahead to the coming year starting with Advent.
“If people are still worshipping from home or there are still restrictions on books in the pew and that sort of thing,” Wisler said, “then a parish could order their books for the coming year and then make them available to the parishioners.”
Wisler noted that the program offers an opportunity for parishes to conduct fundraising. A parish would purchase the books, he said, and notify parishioners of the availability; and they could also ask for a donation to be made to cover the cost of the book and, perhaps, a little bit more.
The author, Colleen Rowan, is executive editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.