I finally started reading my copy of With One Voice, a book of short essays from Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, last night and lo and behold, the opening essay from Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson is about change agency and what is needed to implement the new Missal. While I agree with most of what he says, I strongly feel that catechetical staff and parish faith formation boards need to be a part of the implementation, not just liturgy committees.
Bishop Kicanas cites a number of experts on change-agency, but the most useful thing I took away from his essay is the contention of William Bridges, an expert on organizational transition. Bridges says there are three stages to change: letting go or losing something, a neutral period of adjustment, and a new beginning. He says we cannot short-cut this - we need to go through all three stages.
I suggest that parish and diocesan leaders are going to have to engage in these three stages before we can help the people do that. As in the familiar Kubler-Ross stages of grief, we may indeed revisit the loss stage at various points in the process, but to become a change agent, we have first to be convinced ourselves of the need for change. We have to go through our own sense of loss, our own time of neutrality, before we can be energized to move forward to lead implementation.
"Training the trainers" workshops have been taking place around the country for exactly this reason. Far in advance of the actual implementation, leadership needs to be helped through their own process of letting go and accepting this change, formed, so that they, in turn, can form people in parishes. In our diocese, we will gather parish leaders, beginning in the fall, to talk this through. We will gather them in December to hear Fr. Richard Fragomeni talk about the mystery of the liturgy and liturgical spirituality -- the "soul" of the liturgy that must be addressed even before we discuss changing the words we pray.
In the spring, our parish leaders will experience the Mystical Body, Mystical Voice event from the Liturgical Institute in Mundelein. As follow-up next August, we are planning a practical workshop on helping children, youth and adults to deepen their understanding of the Mass (speakers will include Jerry Galipeau and Bob Piercy.) We will have to talk about the new translation at regional cluster meetings, at adult faith formation leadership gatherings, and on the liturgical side, our diocesan office will be doing the same with their constituents as they, too, have practical workshops on changing the Mass responses, music and more.
Before we can enter this period of re-assessment, renewal and growth, we have to take the time for grieving, anger, resentment, and ultimately, letting go. To become an effective change agent, leaders must first be convinced of the validity of the change. Personally, I'm well on my way to getting there.
In upcoming posts, I plan to deal with skills for change agency for church leaders.