Curriculum rationale: IL

From Benedictine Culture 4 (2011)

The rationale and contribution of the proposed 

Institutum Liturgicum in England and Wales

James G. Leachman – Daniel P. McCarthy

There is only limited provision of higher liturgical education for Catholics in Northern Europe outside France. The five million Catholics in England and Wales, together with those in Scotland, Scandinavia, the Baltic, Northern Germany and the Low Countries as well as North America, might make an English-language graduate liturgy programme viable.

As early as the 1950’s, at the same time as the original foundation of the Institutum Liturgicum at Sant’Anselmo, Fr James Crichton in England made a little-known proposal to establish a national Liturgical Institute; and in 1962, the Vice-president of the Society of St Gregory, Fr Joseph Connelly, referred to the necessity of having a Liturgy Centre and priests, detached from other duties, to serve in it.

The Pontifical Liturgical Institute was established by Pope John XXIII in 1961 and inaugurated by him in 1962; the Second Vatican Council (1963-1965) provided dogmatic and pastoral constitutions that would indicate the way ahead for teaching sacred liturgy. In England Fr Harold Winstone desired that the St Thomas More Centre of Pastoral Liturgy established in North London in 1969, might become the official National Liturgical Centre, but this was not to be. A second proposal in England enshrined in the report “Living Liturgy” was commissioned and accepted by the bishops of England and Wales in 1981, though no centre or institute was in fact established.

Other attempts followed. From 1995 to 2002 the joint Anglican-Roman Catholic Institute for Liturgy and Mission existed in Sarum College in Salisbury, where Canon Christopher Walsh served as director. This was followed on the Church of England side by the Mirfield Liturgical Institute in 2008 and the MA Liturgy programme which had been taught at Lampeter but has now been taken up at Sarum College. All this patient preparation, study and work by many in the field of liturgical study, research and pastoral care has brought much spiritual fruit to Catholics in Britain and Ireland.

Yet still there is no Liturgical Institute with a dedicated staff of trained professors in England, Wales or Scotland, where students can adequately be trained to do research or to serve on liturgical commissions. On Saturday 12th September 2009 two abbots from different Benedictine congregations in England, Fr James Leachman, OSB and Fr Daniel McCarthy, OSB agreed to work together as a board to promote the establishment of such a Liturgical Institute. They wrote to the Preside of the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy to ask permission to organise the teaching of PILcourses in the UK.

Ever since the 1990’s successive presidi (deans) of the PIL have tried to establish English-language programmes of PILcourses in the US, first in Chicago and later in Miami, but these have not yet borne fruit. Similar attempts to initiate an English-language liturgy summer school at Sant’Anselmo in Rome have not yet matured.

On Thursday 12 November 2009 the Council of the Preside of the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy accepted the proposal of the board to permit the teaching of some PILcourses in English by the Institutum Liturgicum in the UK for a period of five years beginning in the Summer of 2011. At the suggestion of the Preside, two of the board members on Friday 26th March 2010 met with faculty members of the Catholic University of Leuven, who has agreed to credit a higher certificate in Liturgical Studies (30 ECTS).

On 16 November 2010 the Department of Christian Life and Worship of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Engalnd and Wales agreed to endorse the Institutum Liturgicum.

On 4 January 2011 a research center began to be established at St Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough where future teaching also may be accommodated. The next concrete step is to inaugurate a teaching programme on 12 July 2011 and begin teaching on the following day.

An Institutum Liturgicum would be able to complement both the liturgy programmes taught at Salisbury, Mirfield and Maynooth and the work of the bishops’ Liturgy Office, by undertaking research and publishing, by offering accredited courses and seminars and by responding to requests for speakers.

Summary of student profile.

Ordinary students, studying for credit, must fulfil the same entry requirements as students of the accrediting university. Because the courses are taught at masters or license level, an STB or equivalent (BATheology, BDiv, BAPhilosophy or Religious Studies or “Approved Previous Experiential Learning”) is required with entry requirements in Latin, Greek and English. Students entering with an STB may take the track leading to the Licence in Sacred Theology (STL)

Visiting students, who are matriculated in a post-graduate programme at another university, receive transferable credits.

IL award students with adequate Latin, Greek and theology but without the requisite degree in theology, enrol at the Institutum Liturgicum, attend courses, take examinations and receive a non-accredited IL Award in Liturgical studies, Diploma in Studiis Liturgicis.

Auditors, enrol at the Institutum Liturgicum and attend lectures with no expectation of taking exams or receiving marks or credit. They receive an attestation of attendance from the Institutum Liturgicum.

Method of instruction and outcomes. Instruction is planned for the months of July and August in order to allow North American students to attend. Each module lasts twelve days contains two hours of class per day for each course. Generally one hour of class requires two and a half to three hours of private study. Students may commute, find their own accommodation or request to reside at the Ealing Abbey house for guests. Some students may wish to avail themselves of the liturgical life of Ealing Abbey or neighbouring communities.

Upon successful completion of the Post-Graduate Diploma in Liturgical Studies, students may apply the 30 ECTS to KULeuven Masters in Theological Studies or transfer them to another university or to the licence in liturgy programme at Sant’Anselmo, Rome. The Higher Certificate also prepares students for graduate research, for private study or for work in diocesan and national liturgical commissions.

Ecumenical consensus in method. The Institute, like the PIL, will welcome students of all liturgical traditions.