Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, Provincial, traveled this week to Ireland to attend the biennial congress hosted by Societas Liturgica, an international body of liturgical scholars, educators and practitioners. The organization was founded more than 60 years ago to promote ecumenical dialogue on worship, based on solid research, with the perspective of renewal and unity.

The main altar inside the College Chapel

This year’s congress is set at St. Patrick’s College, a Pontifical University in the town of Maynooth, located 15 miles west of Dublin in County Kildare. The historic college dates back to 1795, when it was built as a seminary. Its magnificent College Chapel, built in 14th Century Gothic style, opened in 1891.

The theme of this year’s congress is Liturgy and Ecumenism. More than 50 scholars contributed research papers ahead of the meeting, while five different professors and theologians are presenting keynote addresses. In all, there are more than 200 participants from over 30 countries are in attendance. Conference sessions are offered in three languages: English, French and German.

As a liturgical scholar himself, Fr. Francis was asked to give a pre-conference keynote address to a group of people interested in the topic of liturgical inculturation, which examines incorporating local culture into the liturgy. Several of the organizers were particularly interested in proposing a new rite of the Mass for the Aboriginal people of Australia, Fr. Francis said.

The main aisle in the College Chapel

The title of his talk was: “The Three Phases of Liturgical Inculturation Since Vatican II.” Fr. Francis has focused much of his academic research on the relationship between liturgy and culture, and he is a popular presenter at international conferences on the subject.

“Mark is a scholar,” says Fr. Robert M. Egan, CSV, Superior General, “and his belief in the importance of recognizing the need for inculturation and cross-cultural experiences in theological formation are part of his genuine convictions.”