Georgetown Center for Liturgy

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The Georgetown Center for Liturgy, founded in 1981 by Georgetown University and Holy Trinity Catholic Church, is an education, research, and consultation center dedicated to transforming American Catholic parishes through the liturgical renewal initiated by the Second Vatican Council.


The mission of the Georgetown Center for Liturgy is “Working for a Transformed Church through a Renewed Liturgy.” To help parishes, dioceses, and the greater Church reach this mission, the Center for Liturgy offers a range of quality national and regional programs and conducts parish liturgical missions, training days and consultations. The staff undertakes research projects, publishes regularly in liturgical and pastoral journals, and offers courses at Georgetown University.[1]

History of the Center for Liturgy[edit]

In 1981 Fr. Timothy Healy, S.J., then president of Georgetown University, and Fr. Al Panuska, S.J., the Provincial of the Maryland Province, recognized the critical need for specialized centers to assist the American Catholic Church with the implementation of the liturgical reforms initiated by the Second Vatican Council. This prompted Fathers Healy and Panuska to establish The Georgetown Center for Liturgy, Spirituality and the Arts (now known as The Georgetown Center for Liturgy), a unique joint project of Georgetown University and its neighbor, Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Being rooted in both a university and a parish assured that the Center’s work would be supported by the strength of the university’s resources and educational expertise and informed by the actual pastoral experiences of a parish.

Fr. Lawrence J. Madden, S.J., who held a doctorate in liturgical studies from the University of Trier, Germany, was selected to head up this new project. Father Madden had been Director of Campus Ministry and a member of the Theology Faculty at Georgetown University for the preceding ten years. Upon becoming Director of the new Center for Liturgy, Father Madden also became an associate pastor of Holy Trinity parish; later he served as pastor. His participation in the life of the parish helped to shape the overall mission of the Center as one concerned not only with the theoretical dimension of liturgy but also with congregational praxis.

Under Madden’s direction, the Center for Liturgy became a nationally known and widely respected education, research, and consultation center whose primary focus is to ensure the quality of Roman Catholic worship in the United States. Worship is the heart of parish life, “the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit.” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 14.) Since the Second Vatican Council, remarkable strides have been made in the renewal of Catholic liturgy, including the use of the language of the people in the liturgy, the involvement of the laity, the greater role of Scripture in Catholic worship, and the composition of new music to enhance the celebration of the reformed rites.[2]


Leading from the Heart[edit]

The Leading from the Heart Program is a long distance learning program for presiders and preachers that integrates ritual studies, theology and spirituality, and developing performance capacity; the distance learning program includes "coaches" to assist the learner in building practical competency in their role. With the assistance of expert coaches, preachers and presiders improve their skills with the goal of inviting those to whom they preach to full, active, and conscious participation in liturgy.

Study Tours Abroad[edit]

The Georgetown Center for Liturgy conducts annual liturgical study tours. These tours, led by GCL staff, investigate the intersection between liturgy, art, and architecture. Previous tour locations include the following:

  • Low Country Study Tour of Amsterdam and Brussels, 2008
  • Study Tour of Rome, 2007 & 2006


  • Northeast Liturgical Conference (2003)
  • Liturgy-Justice Colloquium (2003)
  • The Joseph Campbell Phenomenon (1991)
  • Twenty-Five Years Since the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1988)
  • Form/Reform (1986-2006)

Catholic Coalition on Preaching[edit]

The Catholic Coalition on Preaching, a partnership of member organizations, recognizes the primary importance of preaching in the Catholic Church and seeks to promote and energize quality preaching in the United States. The Georgetown Center for Liturgy is one of twenty three member organizations that support a renewal of preaching in the Church. The Center for Liturgy’s founder, Rev. Lawrence Madden, S.J. is a member of the CCOP’s Governing Board.

Talks and Retreats[edit]

The Georgetown Center for Liturgy offers various talks and retreats on liturgy, spirituality, and parish life.

Advent Celebration[edit]

Each December the Georgetown Center for Liturgy hosts an Advent Celebration. In addition to a Eucharistic Celebration and Reception, the Georgetown Center for Liturgy presents its annual Award for Outstanding Contributions Made to the Liturgical Life of the American Church.


The Georgetown Center for Liturgy also operates EnVisionChurch is the Center’s interactive online resource concerned with liturgy, spirituality, and sacred art and architecture.

EnVisionChurch offers articles on sacred art and architecture, seasonal worship environments, places of spirit, and liturgy. These articles, written by professionals in each field, provide insight and advice for those interested in the intersections between liturgy, theology, spirituality, sacred art and architecture. EnVisionChurch also hosts a gallery of images, library of resources, and a catalog of professionals.

In addition to its informational nature, EnVisionChurch also is a forum for learning, sharing, networking, and conversation among professionals who assist faith communities with building and/or renovating places of worship and with commissioning artwork; parish leaders, building/renovation committees, parishioners engaged in liturgical ministries (including art and environment committees), and facility/maintenance staff; and diocesan building/renovation and facilities commissions and offices.

Georgetown Center for Liturgy Staff[edit]

  • [vacant] – Director
  • Paul F. X. Covino – Program Coordinator, Adjunct
  • Johan M. J. van Parys – Artistic Director, EnVisionChurch project, Adjunct

GCL Staff Biographies

Georgetown Center for Liturgy Staff Publications[edit]

  • Liturgy and Justice: To Worship God in Spirit and Truth - Anne Y. Koester, editor
  • Called To Participate: Theological, Ritual, And Social Perspectives - by Mark Searle, edited by Barbara Searle and Anne Y. Koester
  • Vision: The Scholarly Contributions of Mark Searle to Liturgical Renewal - Anne Y. Koester and Barbara Searle, editors
  • Celebrating Marriage: Preparing the Wedding Liturgy -- Workbook for Engaged Couples, Third Edition - Paul Covino, John Buscemi, Dr. Elaine Rendler, Lawrence Madden, S.J.
  • The Joseph Campbell Phenomenon - Lawrence Madden, S.J.
  • The Awakening Church - Lawrence J. Madden, S.J., editor

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Georgetown Center For Liturgy,
  2. ^ "The Georgetown Center for Liturgy: Working for a Transformed Church through a Renewed Liturgy", National Jesuit News