July 14th 2013 I began my new assignment as Director of Sacred Liturgy for a Minor Basilica. I didn’t realize how much was expected of a Minor Basilica until I took the job. The Rector gave me the general job description which may be “subject to some changes” after the first year.
In my little experience, the only real difference between a Director of Sacred Liturgy (DOSL) and a Director of Music (DOM) is that I have the added responsibilty of managing the Altar Boys, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and the Lectors. There may become more differences later since we’re still working through the first year.
Along with coordinating the apostolates that assist with Mass, it also became my responsibility to form two new choirs for the Basilica: the Schola Cantorum and the Basilican Choir. The schola’s responsibility would be the Traditional Latin Mass that was added to the weekend schedule. The Basilican Choir would be responsible for the “Basilican Feast Day” Liturgies. These were the most interesting Liturgies to plan in those first eight months.
For those who may not be familiar to what makes a Basilica different from a Cathedral or other Diocesan parish, it is the Pope’s church in the diocese. A basilica is directly connected to Rome and its bishop. There are certain indulgences dispensed to minor basilicas from the four major basilicas in Rome. As a minor basilica, there are certain Feasts that must be celebrated throughout the liturgical year. They are not Holy Days of Obligation, but they are offered in unity with the basilicas of Rome.
I was encouraged to use the Propers of the Mass instead of replacing them with hymns. The interesting part of this for Basilican Days are that there are not any resources that combine these propers in the vernacular. This meant that I had to go to the Latin Missal, find the propers for the feast, and find the English translation. Luckily, the Simple English Propers by Adam Bartlett had the Latin incipits for a translation. This made my work much faster since I do not yet fluently read Latin.
I am hoping to get the hang of this within this first year! I’m also hopeful to begin adding more and more beauty to our Liturgies as more people become interested in participating in the choirs. Here’s looking forward to a great year!