Working in the Vineyard: Jungmann Society

In this installment of “Working in the Vineyard,” Pray Tell presents the Jungmann Society, an international professional association of Jesuits with expertise in liturgy and related fields. Below is a written interview with John Baldovin, S.J., the society’s current President.

How long has the JS been around? Tell us about founding and history. The Jungmann Society grew out of an initial invitation in 2002 by Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., for Jesuits with academic training and expertise in the liturgy and its allied arts to consider liturgical and sacramental life in the Society as both a wellspring of our religious life and an instrument of ecclesial ministry. Major addresses of that Rome conference resulted in the publication ofLiturgy in A Postmodern World, edited by Keith Pecklers, S.J., (Continuum, 2003), which includes major addresses by Godfried Cardinal Daneels, Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., Peter Phan, Mark Francis, C.S.V., Robert Taft, S.J., and other major liturgical figures.

Almost two hundred Jesuits and guests were at this Rome meeting in June 2002, and we were very fortunate to have the participation of Cardinals Danneels, Shan (Taipei), and Kasper, as well as Archbishop Peter Sarpong (Ghana) and Bishop John Cummins (Oakland). In 2004 we formed The International Jungmann Society for Jesuits and the Liturgy in Bangkok, Thailand. Fr. Keith Pecklers of the Gregorian Univesity and Sant’Anselmo was elected as the first president. The association is naturally named after the great Jesuit liturgical historian Josef Jungmann whose two-volume Missarum Sollemnia: The Mass of the Roman Rite was extremely important for the liturgical reform of Vatican II.

Thereafter we have met every two years: Fortaleza, Brazil (2006), Montserrat, Catalonia (2008), Tampa, Florida (2010), Nitra, Slovakia (2012), Mexico City (2014), Dublin (2016) and Nairobi (2018).

Who are your members? The membership of the Jungmann consists mainly of Jesuits who are working full-time in the field of liturgy, for example teaching at the Gregorian University and various other theologates around the world. Jesuit students who have finished the first two stages of formation are also admitted to membership if they intend to pursue liturgical studies. There are also a number of Jesuits responsible for formation who are members as well as several non-Jesuits like Mr. Peter Dwyer (Liturgical Press), Mr. Toshimitsu Miyakoshi (Japan) and Fr. Mark Francis, C.S.V. (CTU) who have been very faithful to our meetings. Our members come from every continent and at least twenty-five countries.

What is the most important contribution the JS makes to the life of the church? What is your niche?
I think the Jungmann Society serves the Church somewhat indirectly by encouraging good formation in liturgy for Jesuits throughout the world as well as serving as a support organization for those engaged in teaching liturgy or forming others, including many non-Jesuits in our institutions. We are deeply committed to promoting the post-Vatican II liturgical reform especially in line with Pope Francis’ strong commitment to it.

I’m not sure if this counts as a niche, but I don’t think it would be bragging to say that Jesuits have an important apostolic impact on the Church and quality celebration of the liturgy should be an aspect of that apostolic service.

Here’s our Mission Statement:

The Jungmann Society is an international professional association of Jesuits with academic training and expertise in liturgy and its allied arts. It has been founded as a response of the Society of Jesus to the Church’s urgent call for a new evangelization of the world’s many different cultures through worship, scholarship and dialogue. Its goal is to promote the renewal of the Church’s liturgical life as a central dimension of the Church’s mission to preach the gospel effectively in today’s world.

It seeks to accomplish this goal by:

  • helping Jesuits, their lay collaborators, diocesan bishops, and local churches recognize the challenges and qualities of good liturgical practice;
  • providing a venue in which research and practical experience can be shared and participants can receive consultation and support;
  • exposing its members and collaborators to significant elements of worship and to styles of liturgical and religious practice from different cultures in order to make them better scholars, teachers, and practitioners;
  • undertaking specific research projects that study the connections between liturgy, the role of the laity, social justice, and the different cultures of the developing world.

What else do you want Pray Tell readers to know about the JS?
Like pretty much everyone else in the world we have been stymied by the global COVID pandemic. We had planned a meeting in Rome (the scene of the crime as it were) for June 2020. Of course, that didn’t happen. Luckily, we did not reschedule for 2021 because we don’t want to conflict with the years when the Societas Liturgica holds its congresses. God willing, our next meeting will be in Rome in June 2022 – or it will be held virtually. Actually, it will most likely have to be at least hybrid since many of our members will not be able to attend in person.

The focus for this meeting will be the four current universal apostolic preferences of the Society of Jesus:

  1. To show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment;
  2. To walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice;
  3. To accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future;
  4. To collaborate in the care of our Common Home.

We’re hoping to connect the service of the liturgy to these important aspects of our mission. We have also invited Archbishop Arthur Roche, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to address us on how Jesuit liturgists can serve the Church. He has graciously agreed to participate. We’ll have a number of other speakers including Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J., speaking on migration and service of the poor.

May God prosper your work!

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