‘Face to Face’ Formation Workshops Begin

BRIDGEPORT—The Leadership Institute of the Diocese of Bridgeport has announced a series of  45 “Face-to-Face Formation” workshops, which will be held throughout the diocese in the coming months for all lay liturgical ministers readers, musicians, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion as part of the introduction of new Norms Governing the Liturgical Ministries.

More than 4,000 men and women liturgical ministers are expected to attend the formation sessions in parishes throughout the diocese from January through May 20, 2019. All parish face-to-face sessions are two hours and include local, practical formation. Each gathering will also include 30 minutes of registration tech-support before and after each meeting.

More than 50 people attended the first meeting held last night at St. John Parish in Darien.  The program began with a video message from Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. Participants also received Formation Workshop booklets.

The Norms Governing the Liturgical Ministries for the Diocese of Bridgeport went into effect on January 1, 2019, as a response to the fourth diocesan synod and its call for reform and renewal. After one year ad experimentum, the norms will be revised and become permanent.

The norms offer standards and required formation for those who serve as Readers (proclaimers of the Word at Mass), Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC), Altar Servers, and musicians.

“By definition, norms are an authoritative standard. Liturgical norms regulate how the public worship of the Church is to be carried out. In the case of the Holy Eucharist, these norms ensure that the celebration of Mass in our diocese is in conformity with the universal liturgical law of the Church,” said Patrick Donovan, executive director of the Leadership Institute, which is sponsoring the workshops and online formation.

Donovan said the norms of the Diocese of Bridgeport are based on the teaching and guidance of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, the Magisterium and the entire prayer history of the Church, the Bride of Christ.

More than two dozen clergy, lay leaders, and theologians worked to develop these norms over the course of a year, he said.

Readers, musicians, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who are grandfathered into the formation have been invited to complete an online module and attend a face-to-face gathering, which can be hosted at their parish. Most have already received an invitation to register online through their participation in the Virtus database.

Most of the formation for Altar Servers will happen at the parish level. Musicians are invited to watch one module online and then attend a face-to-face conversation with Bishop Caggiano on February 16, 2019. Donovan said that while the February 16  event is geared towards musicians, those who serve in this role may attend any workshop for credit.

Donovan added that anyone who currently serves in any of these liturgical roles who has not received an invitation via email should confirm that their Virtus status is up to date and then contact to request an invitation. Everyone will be required to register with The Leadership Institute and participate in formation opportunities around the diocese. Paper applications are available for those without computer access.

When liturgical ministers have met all requirements, they will receive your certificate (“the mandate”), which should be presented to the pastor. Pastors will also receive a list of those to whom a mandate has been given by the bishop.

The dates for Formation Gatherings are as follows:

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Entry for those who will be grandfathered into liturgical ministries will receive an email. Those currently serving as a liturgical minister who did not receive in online invitation should confirm their Virtus status and then email

Anyone new to ministry who would like to serve as a reader, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, or musician, can also visit the Leadership Institute website——after February 1 when formation for new ministers opens.