Bishop Sullivan reinstates the Diocesan Commission for the Sacred Liturgy and Christian Initiation


By Stephen F. Obarski

The church in all parts of the world is now commemorating the 50th year after the documents that were produced and implemented as the work coming from the Second Vatican Council (1962-65): The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1963), often referred to by its Latin title, Sacrosanctum Concilium, was the first document issued by the council. From this document comes the directive that every diocese form a Liturgical Commission.

  1. Every diocese is to have a commission on the sacred liturgy under the direction of the bishop, for promoting the liturgical apostolate. Sometimes it may be expedient that several dioceses should form between them one single commission which will be able to promote the liturgy by common consultation.
  1. Besides the commission on the sacred liturgy, every diocese, as far as possible, should have commissions for sacred music and sacred art. These three commissions must work in closest collaboration; indeed it will often be best to fuse the three of them into one single commission.

The third Bishop of Camden, Archbishop Celestine J. Damiano, participated in the Council, and formed a Liturgical Commission to assist him in the work of implementing the initiatives that flowed from the council. In the early years, the work of the commission included a review of both new church construction and the renovation of existing churches to accommodate a free standing altar, and an ambo (pulpit) to accommodate the proclamation of the Word of God. Camden was one of the few dioceses that made provision for their own local missalette, incorporating Mass texts, and music.

One of the projects of this era remains in wide use nationally, and that is an edition of The Stations of the Cross with texts that are primarily scriptural. Many parishes still use these brown covered booklets for this Lenten devotion.

In the later years, the Liturgical Commission developed the School of Liturgy, which was intended to provide Lectors, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and Ministers of Music with an in-depth formation so that they might properly exercise their ministry with reverence, competence and deeper understanding. The School of Liturgy continues to this day, although administered by the Diocesan Office of Worship and Christian Initiation which was begun in 1990.

Both our Liturgical Commission and our Office of Worship and Christian Initiation are affiliated with the national Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions.

The newly reinstated Diocesan Commission for the Sacred Liturgy and Christian Initiation has among its members those whose academic study combined with solid pastoral practice have earned them the respect of their colleagues in ministry.

The members include


Msgr. John Burton of Christ the Good Shepherd in Vineland

Father Mark Cavagnaro of Our Lady of Hope in Gloucester Township

Directors of Catholic Identity/Campus Ministers

Father James King of Holy Spirit High School and Stockton College

Father John Rossi of Paul VI High School


Deacon Omar Aguilar of St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral Parish in Camden

Deacon Joseph Orlando of St. Damien Parish in Ocean City

Deacon J. Peter Traum of Incarnation Parish in Mantua

Pastoral Associates

SueAnn Jeral of St. Simon Stock Parish in Berlin

Sister Maria Metzger SSJ of Our Lady, Star of the Sea Parish in Cape May

Mary Joan Piechocki of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Cape May Court House

Music Ministers

Michael Bedics of Christ Our Light Parish in Cherry Hill

Dr. Christopher Daly of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Haddon Township

Josephus Jordan of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Washington Township

Maria Nieva of the Parish Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Lindenwold

Leda Reeve of the Cathedral Parish of the Immaculate Conception in Camden

Abigail Walsh of St. Joachim Parish in Bellmawr

Diocesan Representatives

Father Michael Romano, Master-of-Ceremonies for Bishop Sullivan

Mary Lou Hughes, Co-Director of the Office of Faith and Family Life Formation

Stephen Obarski, Director of the Office of Worship and Christian Initiation

Damaris Thillet, Associate Director of the Office of Worship and Christian Initiation.

Bishop Sullivan has appointed these representatives to be members of Diocesan Commission for the Sacred Liturgy and Christian Initiation for a period of three years. The commission members will work on initiatives presented by the bishop, as well as the upcoming implementation of newly-translated ritual books for Marriage and Christian Initiation once they are published. They will also be of service to parishes seeking to implement proper practices in Christian Initiation and the Sacred Liturgy.

The initial meeting of the commission took place in early November. The commission will meet with the bishop several times a year.

Stephen F. Obarski is director of Worship, Music, and Christian Initiation, Diocese of Camden.