September 9, 2020

Projecting music at Mass: Is it right for your community?

Projecting music at Mass: Is it right for your community?

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of projection as a means of aiding the assembly in worship was already on the rise. Due to the restrictions on physical objects within the worship space, parishes have begun to adopt new methods even more rapidly. And parishes have recently been inquiring about projected worship aids as they plan for the future. Projection has many benefits to the congregation, but there are also some draw backs. It is our intention to lay out in this whitepaper the full landscape of what it takes to successfully integrate a projected worship aid into your parish’s celebration, so that you will have the tools to make an informed decision regarding your community’s response to these uncertain times. After reading this whitepaper, you should have a good understanding of:

  • The benefits and draw backs of projection
  • The resources required to successfully begin a projection ministry
  • The best practices gathered from parishes already adopting this technology

We hope this whitepaper will inform your research and discernment, as you navigate what is right for your parish at this moment.

How much are you willing to spend?

For many, the cost of implementation is really the bottom line that will make or break their decision. But cost will depend entirely on the complexity of your implementation, the architecture of your parish, and other factors that may be unique to your parish and your ministry. Projection is a method of supporting the worship of the assembly that has a higher initial setup cost. However, savings may be found in the long term for parishes using projection. The immediate thought many have is that there will be a significant cost savings by not purchasing books to put in the pews.

You may consider purchasing a $300 projector on Amazon and setting it on the first pew. While that sort of a solution might buy the parish some time to make a more permanent solution, it’s certainly not a sustainable model for the long-term needs of the assembly. Realistically the starting budget request for a permanent move to projection should be somewhere between $5,000 and $20,000.

How often will it be used?

One factor that may significantly impact your decision to purchase a projector its average use. There is no sense in purchasing a high-quality projector, if it is only brought out on rare occasions. A projector can prove to be a sound investment, even if it is only used during the celebration of the liturgy. However, there are plenty of additional situations that can warrant the use of projection.

  • Retreats
  • Missions
  • Prayer services
  • Parish events
  • Community outreach
  • Catechesis
  • Youth ministry

Do I need other technological components to support projection?

Yes. At the bare minimum, you will need a computer. The performance of a computer for projection does not need to be very high though. Computers running projection only need to be able to run the projection software, which is often PowerPoint, ProPresenter or Faithlife Proclaim.

Another potential piece to add would be a connection to the parish sound system. There should be a dedicated line-in channel from your mixing board that allows the computer audio to play over the sound system.

Lastly, you might want to augment the projection experience with a piece of Bluetooth technology to allow you to change slides from the pews rather than from whatever broom closet you have the computer hiding in. This allows the projectionist to participate in the Mass as well. Options include a Bluetooth pedal, like those sold by AirTurn, or a handheld Bluetooth remote.

Do you have permission to use the songs?

It’s important to factor in the cost of music licenses into your overall budget. If you do not currently have a license, you will need one for each song projected. You will also need a license to use liturgical texts. Read more about licensing and copyrights here.

Do you have a dedicated parish staff member for projection?

You may need one. Then again, you may not. Some parishes simply do not have the resources to pay for such a position. With that being said, setting up, maintaining and executing projection is a lot of work, especially for multiple liturgies. It may not be a full-time position in and of itself, but someone on staff should be responsible for the quality of the slides.

Are you maintaining your missal subscription?

While deciding to end a missal subscription may save your parish money, it will cost the parishioners their worship experience. Projection is not a touchstone. Just like considerations for obtrusive projection screens, we have to consider the physiological experience that is the liturgy. We’re not simply watching it. The sacred Word on a printed page is an experience that many in your assembly may need, in order to feel rooted in their faith. If using books is currently out of the question, invite your parishioners to take home their own copies of their missal. We’ve created a program at OCP to help you do just that. Learn more.


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Jethro Higgins
Jethro Higgins

Jethro Higgins, father of 6,  has Directed Youth & Young Adult ministry programs and led liturgical music ensembles since 2004. Jethro received his Master of Science in Business Analysis from the Catholic University of America and is currently studying at The Augustine Institute in the Master of Arts in Theology program.