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Inviting Students Inside the Catholic Liturgy: A Teaching Mass with Father Leo

Fr. Leo Edgerly, Vice President for Catholic Mission, carefully lays his stole and alb across the presider’s chair. “We are lucky to have a school community so diverse and representative of the Bay Area,” he says. “As a Catholic school, it’s an opportunity to share our faith and explain how we worship with all our students.”

For some at O’Dowd, their connection to liturgy (the rituals of worship) happens mainly during our masses. This year, Fr. Leo added another opportunity, inviting all of our religious studies classes to O’Dowd’s chapel for a more intimate liturgical experience - a teaching mass. “For everyone to feel welcomed and included, it’s important to start with the ‘what,’” explains Fr. Leo. “Then, no matter their faith background, students can appreciate and connect with the ‘why’ for many of our liturgical traditions.”

In his teaching masses, Fr. Leo explained the relevance of the different parts of the chapel, like the altar and tabernacle, and showed students the different garments he wears. He talked about the significance of different parts of the mass, including the recited prayers, and how the liturgy is loosely based on the Jewish prayer ritual. “By unpacking the Catholic liturgy, we’re encouraging students to reflect on each ritual action and its significance in their own lives,” shares Ryan Dilag, Director of Campus Ministry. “The Catholic Church is a universal church, and the teaching mass invites students into that universality. ”

For the Liturgy of the Eucharist, students gathered together around the altar. “It’s important that this community understands that we are not just watching the mass,” states Fr. Leo. “We are active participants in all parts of the liturgy.”

After his teaching mass, Fr. Leo took time to answer student questions. “Any opportunity to help demystify the liturgy is valuable,” explains Corinna Guerrero, Religious Studies teacher. “It’s an invitation to live and love in greater harmony as a community.”


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