Liturgy committee and the busiest time of the year


Holy Week is the most sacred and beautiful week in the Catholic Church calendar, but also the busiest week for the Franciscan University of Steubenville liturgy committee. “We are trying to do the best that we can to have an appropriate liturgy to give glory to the Lord,” said Ian Barnstead, co-head of ushers.

Nearly five weeks ago, Harrison Juliano, Student Head of Liturgy Committee who oversees and leads all liturgy committees, started planning and organizing for Holy Week and Easter. On a regular week, he spends a couple of hours in the chapel reading articles from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic blogs to better understand the liturgy.

But during Holy Week his hours increase. “It feels like we put in 300 hours,” said Juliano. “It requires a lot of maturity and responsibility; we want to be perfect.”

To prepare the committee, he watched and took notes on all of last year’s videos on the liturgy. He also went through the Order of Worship on how the liturgy is according to the Rubrics. Every Wednesday the liturgy committee meets with Juliano, where he passes on the information.

The committee is so busy that the students receive a special stipend just for Holy Week. The committee has to reset everything nearly every day for each liturgy.

“We pretty much have no evenings all week,” said Mark Daniel, co-head of readers. Each committee has to choose and practice with all the ministers for each day. They practice Wednesday night for Holy Thursday, early Friday morning for Good Friday and Saturday morning for the Easter Vigil. Daniel and his co-head, Jessica Burns, were in charge of finding 12 students who were willing to get their feet washed on Holy Thursday. They also printed out all of the sheets for the congregation to read the Passion.

The co-heads of Sacristans, Kimberly Doudna and Jessica Pehmoeller, ordered all of the palms, and more than a $500 bunch of flowers. All week they were busy polishing the precious metals and steaming every vestment and altar linens. John Broduer, Student Head of Music Ministry, has been planning and practicing for Holy Week since the 2011 fall semester.

With the new translation of the mass, there are a few changes being made to this year’s celebration. “The biggest effect for the ushers is not having the veneration of the crucifix,” said Barnstead.

The new translation defines that only one crucifix is to be used at the Good Friday service. Not everyone will be able to venerate the cross during the service, but it will be available for the congregation after the service. Juliano said that this is how the service will be in Rome. Only the cardinals, bishops and the ambassadors to the Holy See will be able to venerate the cross.

Juliano and all the co-heads of the liturgy have every detail covered – even when the congregation will light their candles at the Easter Vigil. He has several backup plans if the weather does not cooperate for the Holy Thursday procession and the lighting of the Easter fire.

Even during hectic times, one thing that many people do not know is that the committee is very much a family that likes to have fun. But they also know when to be serious, and they give the liturgy as much reverence as it deserves.

“We have a really special committee, and I’m really proud to be a part of it,” said Daniel. “I love serving my fellow brothers and sisters in this way. It’s an honor, it’s a privilege; it’s worth it.”

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