Sample Celebration

This is a a sample of what one of the celebrations looks like. It is the first celebration from the Proclaiming Abundant Love Parish Mission or Retreat.

Celebration I – People of the Covenant

The focus of the first celebration is God’s covenant with us – a covenant signed in water and in blood.  It is a covenant God made with all humanity in the blood of Christ – a covenant by which we “who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)  It is a personal covenant as well as a communal one – for in the waters of baptism we enter into covenant with the God who calls us each by name.

We are invited to the water, to the place where we entered into covenant with the Almighty.  We are invited to renew that covenant – to remember that Christ’s blood flows in our veins and thus unites us not only to God but to one another.


A lector for the first reading 
A cantor for the responsorial psalm and gospel acclamation 
At least four members of the Parish Planning Team to dry the hands of the people after they have blessed themselves with the holy water and to pray over the people as they return from blessing themselves with the holy water (If there are enough member of the Parish Planning Team, some may dry hands and others pray over the people after their hands have been dried)


Entrance Song
Responsorial Psalm
Gospel Acclamation (Sing or omit)
Song after the Faith Sharing (Optional)
Refrain during Procession to the Water
Closing Song

Things needed:

If the baptismal font is easily approachable, it should be filled with warm water.
If not, a large bowl of warm water should be placed front and center.
Towels for drying the hands of those who bless themselves with the holy water.

Introductory Rites

Entrance Song and Procession

Members of the local mission team lead the procession with a cross and two candles.  The Book of the Gospels is carried in next, usually by the lector for the first reading.  Other members of the local mission team are followed in by the pastor and the members of the preaching team.  Generally, all of them are seated in the first few pews at the front of the church.

Sign of the Cross

Generally, the pastor begins the mission with the sign of the cross, greeting, introductions and welcome.  After the opening prayer, one of the members of the preaching team presides, while another preaches and the third accompanies the children for their liturgy of the Word.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The people respond:



The pastor uses these or similar words to greet the assembly.

The grace and peace of God our Father,
the love of Jesus Christ,
and the blessings of the Holy Spirit be with you.

The people respond:

And with your spirit.

Introduction and Welcome

The pastor welcomes the people in his own words, thanks them for coming, and briefly introduces the preaching team.  Then he hands over the mission to them.

Opening Prayer

The presider for this service leads the people in the Opening Prayer.

Let us pray.

After a brief silence, the presider continues:

God of the covenant,
you created us in your own image
and set us over the world to serve you.

You made a covenant with Israel
as you led them from slavery to freedom
and invited all people to be your people
in Christ and through his blood.

Renew with us now that covenant
by which we became your beloved sons and daughters.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who shed his precious blood for our salvation,
and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.

The people respond:


Liturgy of the Word

Dismissal of Children (Optional)

If the children are to be dismissed, the presider calls them forward, introduces them to the preacher and Parish Planning Team member who will accompany them, and dismisses them.  If there are only two preachers, two people from the Parish Planning Team go with the children and lead them in their activity.

Reading I – Exodus 24:3-8

A reading from the book of Exodus:

When Moses came to the people
and related all the words and ordinances of the LORD,
they all answered with one voice,
“We will do everything that the LORD has told us.”

Moses then wrote down all the words of the LORD
and rising early the next day,

he erected at the foot of the mountain

an altar and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.

Then, having sent certain young men of the Israelites to offer holocausts
and sacrifice young bulls as peace offerings to the LORD,
Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls;
the other half he splashed on the altar.

Taking the book of the covenant,
he read it aloud to the people, who answered,
“All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do.”

Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying,
“This is the blood of the covenant
which the LORD has made with you
in accordance with all these words of his.”

The Word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm

The parish musicians choose a responsorial setting of one of the following psalms:

Psalm 63
My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord, my God.

Psalm 89
For ever, I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Gospel Acclamation

The gospel acclamation is either sung or omitted.


Generally, the preacher reads the gospel, using the one that corresponds to the current liturgical cycle.

Year A – Matthew 3:13 – 4: 1, 11

A reading from the holy gospel according to Matthew:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened (for him), and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.

Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.

The gospel of the Lord.


One of the other preacher, not the one presiding at that celebration, prepares a presentation of fifteen to twenty minutes.  It ends with a question which the members of the assembly are invited to reflect upon and share.

Faith Sharing

Members of the assembly are invited to form groups of three of four right where they are to share some of their answers to the question posed by the preachers.  Two or three members of the assembly may be invited to share their reflections or insights with the rest of the assembly.

Return of the Children (Optional)

The children who were earlier dismissed for the Children’s Liturgy of the Word are welcomed back to the assembly in order to participate in the ritual.  When they return, they might be invited to share some of their experience with the adult community.


Blessing the Water

The presider invites the assembly to stretch out their hands in blessings over the water, then prays:

Lord God,
you led Israel through the waters
which set them free from Pharaoh’s army
and made them your chosen people.

You proclaimed Jesus as your beloved Son,
and sent him to be our savior
in the waters of the Jordan.

You brought us into that covenant
through baptism and the Holy Spirit.

Breath once again upon these waters,
that they might be holy
and a source of grace
for all whom  you have called and chosen.

We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

The people respond:



The presider invites people to come to the water, explaining that they should feel free to actually get wet as we celebrate God’s abundant love for us.  Tonight “a little dab will NOT due” and people may be invited to bless one another - especially spouses or family members.

Let all who thirst come to the waters.
Let us know there once again
the grace of the one in whom we have been saved.

Procession to the Water & Prayer over the People

At least four members of the local mission team are invited to dry the hands of those who have just been to the water and to pray over people as they return from the water.  Those who are praying for others hold their hands open in front of them in a gesture that invites others to place their hands in their hands..  One of the following statements might be used as part of this or those who pray may use their own words, based in part on what the preacher said or on the scriptures that were proclaimed during this celebration.

You are God’s beloved daughter/son, with whom God is well pleased.


May God renew the grace of baptism within you.


May the grace of the covenant be renewed in you.

Lord’s Prayer

After everyone has returned to their seats, the presider invites the people to stand and pray:

Renewed by God’s grace,
we pray together
the words our savior Jesus gave us.

The entire assembly prays:

Our Father . . . 
for the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.

Sign of Peace

The presider then invites the assembly to share a sign of peace with one another:

Let us share with one another a sign of the Lord’s peace.


Closing Prayer

Once the sign of peace begins to wind down, the presider continues:

Let us pray.

After a brief silence, the presider continues:

Almighty and ever loving God,
you created humanity to share your love.

You entered into a covenant with your chosen people
so that your love might grow.

You redeemed us, and washed away our sins
in the blood of your Son.

You dwell in us as we share the cup of salvation
with one another.

Renew in us your saving grace
as we celebrate our parish mission.
As your abundant love is proclaimed,
may we learn to live that love more fully.

May our parish be transformed
by the proclamation of our salvation
in Christ and through his Blood.

We ask this in his name
who is Lord for ever and ever.

The people respond:


Concluding Rites


During a Parish Mission, the presider makes the following announcements:

  1. Thank everyone for coming and invite them to come back tomorrow and bring a friend
  2. Introduce tomorrow’s celebration - People of the Cross.
  3. Introduce and thank all who prepared for the mission, especially the members of the parish mission team.
  4. If there is a reception after the celebration, invite people to the social after the celebration.

During a Retreat, the presider makes the following announcements

  1. Thanks everyone for coming.
  2. Introduces the next celebration - People of the Cross - as well as what time that celebration will begin.
  3. Introduce and thank all who prepared for the mission, especially the members of the parish mission team.
  4. Invites those on retreat to spend some time in either silent reflection or in shared reflection with one or two others until lunch.


Then the presider says:

To remind the people of Israel of the covenant,
God taught Aaron to call down God’s blessings upon the people.

Tonight we use his words, as we pray:

With outstretched hands, the presider prays over the people:

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The people respond:


The presider continues:

The Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.

The people respond:


The presider continues:

The Lord look upon you with kindness and fill you with peace.

The people respond:


The presider continues:

May almighty God bless you/us, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The people respond:



The presider uses these or similar words to dismiss the people:

Go in peace to live the covenant love
with which God has blest you.

The people respond:

Thanks be to God.

Closing Song

The presider, preacher, and team members depart in procession – similar to the entrance procession, but without the Book of the Gospels – as an appropriate song is sung.