Thursday, April 7, 2011

New Translation Thursday: Mass in Nursing Homes and Long-term Care Facilities

Welcome to "New Translation Thursday." Thanks to all for your comments in the last few days.

Yesterday I presented a retreat in the Diocese of Buffalo. While there, I was unable to access the internet; because of this I had no access to e-mail.

One of the posters to this blog was upset, thinking that I had rejected the comment made when, in fact, I had not yet read the comment. Here is how this all works on "Blogger." When you post a comment, I receive an e-mail that contains your comment. From the e-mail, I have the choice as to whether to publish or not publish the comment. There are only two types of comments that I do not publish. One type is the kind that is automatically generated by "blog crawlers" out there. For instance, I may get a comment that says something like "Thank you for this great post. Translation is such an important issue," without any direct relation to the blog posting itself. A few times, this kind of comment has come with a link to the originator of the comment. Before publishing, I click on the link, only to find that the link takes me to an inappropriate site, usually having to do with a certain genre of pharmaceutical products. I'll let you guess the genre.

The second are comments that I consider offensive and unhelpful. I have only rejected this type of comment on one occasion.

I believe that Gotta Sing Gotta Pray is one of several places on the internet where we can engage in dialogue around a number of topics. The new translation of The Roman Missal is the topic that gets the most comments, obviously. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

So, folks, if I do not get to your comments right away, it is usually because I do not have immediate access to the internet. Please be patient with me, especially during these months of heavy travel.

I do have one issue I want to bring up on this "New Translation Thursday." In my travels around the country, I have had quite a few people ask me about Masses celebrated in Nursing Homes and Long Term Care Facilities. The questions usually come from people whose ministry it is to offer spiritual care to those who live in these kinds of facilities. They tell me that perhaps once a month the parish priest comes to the facility to celebrate Mass with the residents. These ministers of care have asked me my opinion on how to handle the change in translation with these Catholic residents who attend Masses at the facilities. Some of these residents, they tell me, live with varying degrees of dementia yet, when Mass is celebrated, they have the capacity to reach deep down inside themselves and are able to respond at Mass with the responses and prayers that they had prayed most of their lives.

These ministers of care wonder just how to deal with the new translation. Some have suggested that they want to continue to have the priest use the current translation. I then ask how long they think this would be effective since, eventually, the residents will be people who have learned the new translation. When I suggest that they do some simple catechesis with the residents about the changes, they tell me that this kind of approach will do little. When I suggest that they use a printed worship program with the new texts, they tell me that the majority of the people they work with have lost the ability to read. This is a real heartbreaker for me, since my own sister lived in a long-term care facility for the final few years of her life. I can't imagine what it would have been like for her to be wheeled in her wheelchair down to the chapel for Mass, only to be hearing different words prayed at Mass.

Perhaps this is an isolated situation, but I am at a loss as to how to counsel these caregivers.

So, I am reaching out to you for some wisdom on this subject. Please feel free to comment. Has your parish developed a plan that addresses this issue?

I am off to the Diocese of Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida, tomorrow for two sessions with musicians focused on WLP's new and revised settings of the Mass. The first session is Friday night at Saint Timothy Parish in Lutz, FL, pictured here:

Then, on Saturday morning, we'll be in what looks to be a brand new church in Clearwater, Saint Catherine of Siena. The interior is pictured here:

As always, I am looking forward to sharing our Mass settings, which you, of course, can always find on our web site or on

Please pray for the safety of all travelers.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Georgette Dionne Jebb said...

oops...Jerry. I just sent you a comment via blog but would prefer that you did not post it. I intended to simply email you a quick request but when I tried the email address which you gave us at the Buffalo retreat yesterday (, it was a failed delivery. Did I err on the address? Thanks! Georgette

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Hello Georgette,
My e-mail address is

Brian, Chicago said...

I help sing and play my clarinet at Easter and Christmas at a Chicago suburban nursing facility. I asked the chaplain last Christmas what their plan was and he said they were going to continue to use the current translation for the same reasons mentioned in your blog. I quickly understood and carried on when he shared this. At the same time, you are correct, that eventually there will be people that are familiar with the new texts. I think there might need to be mixture of catechesis and an adjust time line for implementation of the new text for nursing homes and long-term care facilities. It is easy to say, "We're keeping the current translation" but what does that say about the individuals who are living there? They are still living and they still deserve to be respected and treated like everyone else. They are human beings with special needs. Maybe the first 3 mos, only use the new prayers by the priest and the new responses, then later introduce the new text to the Gloria and so forth. I think this is one of those cases where pastoral sensitivity must occur. Ironically, this facility uses misalettes. I wonder if they plan to continue using them? Hmm...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for raising this question.

My guess is that even though the minister(s) will say the "new" words, the residents will simply keep responding as they are accustomed to... and we ought to let them.

Katherine said...

Those who do nursing home liturgies might be surprised. Some of the residents may actually do very well with the new translation; all of us who are old enough to remember the first English liturgies after the Council are likely to find the new translation strangely 'familiar'. A few times hearing 'and with your spirit', etc., may call up responses out of old, deep memories.