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September 25, 2020

Maintaining a healthy worship environment with personal missals

Maintaining a healthy worship environment with personal missals


The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt had a significant impact on the way we worship. Whether we are worshiping inside the church or attending outdoor Masses, there are still many safety precautions we must follow to prevent the spread of coronavirus. While congregational singing is on hold in most churches due to safety concerns, music is still an integral part of the Mass and is being led at most parishes by a cantor and accompanist or a small group of musicians.

It is important to follow your diocesan safety procedures for singing at Mass. If singing is not allowed at your parish at this time due to risk of infection, parishioners can follow along with the music and pray the text of the song silently as the cantor sings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended:

“[T]emporarily limiting the sharing of frequently touched objects, such as worship aids…prayer books, hymnals, religious texts and other bulletins, books, or other items passed or shared among congregants, and encouraging congregants to bring their own such items…”

While it may not be safe yet to return the missals to the pews, personal missals can be safely used by individuals at Mass. OCP’s Parishioner Personal Missal Program has been developed to assist parishes in obtaining and safely distributing missals for personal use. OCP provides a parish tool kit, containing all of the communication tools needed to get the word out to your parishioners about this program. Parishes take orders for the missals, collect donations from parishioners, order the missals and distribute them to parishioners using COVID-19 safety precautions. Parishioners are responsible for keeping personal missals in their possession and bringing their own missals to Mass each week.

Using a personal missal can help you to stay engaged in the liturgy during Mass, deepen your prayer and create a sense of community. You can limit your exposure and decrease your risk of infection by bringing a small bottle of personal sanitizer for your both your hands and missal. Keeping your mask on at Mass, except when receiving Communion, and maintaining required social distancing limits exposure and transmission of the virus. These types of behavioral adjustments can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and reduce your risks. It’s also a great idea to protect your OCP missal with a missal cover for easy cleaning before and after Mass. It may also a good idea to carry your missal in a plastic tote.

Personal Missals can also be used at home by individuals and families participating in livestreamed Masses. Singing aloud with your missal while viewing a recorded or livestreamed Mass is a safe option and a great way to remain connected to your parish through active participation. Missals are great for personal prayer during the week and for supporting family prayer and reflection.

Have questions about the Parishioner Personal Missal Program? We are more than happy to speak with you. For more information, please contact the OCP Parish Services team at 1-800-LITURGY (548-8749).

Dr. Mary DiCamillo, MT-BC
Dr. Mary DiCamillo, MT-BC

Dr. Mary DiCamillo, OCP Parish Ministry Consultant, is a Catholic music educator and has taught at all levels, from preschool to college, for the last 30 years. She is also a board-certified music therapist and has been a member of the American Music Therapy Association since 1990. Mary has worked as a music educator and music therapist in K–12 schools, universities, health care settings and has owned a private practice. She is also an experienced accompanist and cantor, and she currently leads worship at St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic Church in Laguna Beach, CA. Mary provides ministry consultations for Catholic schools and parishes in the Southwestern United States.