NAAL began in 1973 with a meeting organized by two Jesuits, Frs. Walter Burghardt and John Gallen. It was officially founded in 1975 at Notre Dame, and the first meeting was at Loyola in Louisiana. Its ecumenical membership numbers somewhere around 500 members, of which a bit less than half are Roman Catholic. Worship at the meetings is sometimes Christian, sometimes interfaith in consideration of the Jewish, and now Muslim, members.
On the CAL agenda this year, after greetings from Bishop John Noonan, is Dr. Mary Gautier from CARA. She will give us hard data on U.S. Catholicism, and then a moderator will lead us through a discussion of what this all means for our liturgical scholarship and ministry. Then, at the encouragement of Fr. Ed Foley, there will be discussion of the production of a handbook on preaching.
At the afternoon business meeting there will be, as is customary, a report from ICEL (by Fr. Paul Turner) and from the USCCB liturgy secretariat (by outgoing director Msgr. Rick Hilgartner), and if possible, a report also from the Canadian liturgical scene.
The NAAL meeting will include, alongside the usual worship services, an address by the incoming vice-president (next year’s president), Max Johnson. There will also be a plenum session on the 50th anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium “through the lens of Anscar Chupungco” with Neal Presa, Mark Francis, Gordon Lathrop, and Peggy Kelleher.
The real work of NAAL is done in seminars. A conference participant typically participates in all four lengthy seminars lessons on Friday and Saturday morning and afternoon. The established seminars meeting this year are: The Advent Project, Christian Initiation, Ecology and Liturgy, Emerging Critical Resources for Liturgical Studies, Environment and Art, Eucharistic Prayer and Theology, Exploring Contemporary and Alternative Worship, Feminist Studies in Liturgy, Formation in Liturgical Prayer, Historical Research: 16th Century to the Present, Issues in Medieval Liturgy, Liturgical Hermeneutics, Liturgical Language, Liturgical Music, Liturgical Theology, Liturgy and Culture, Liturgy and Spirituality, Problems in Early History of Liturgy, Queering Liturgy, Liturgical Theory and Performance, Visual Arts and Liturgy, and The Word in Worship.
More reports to follow.