25: Best Practices for Celebrating Bilingual Masses


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Patti Gutiérrez
Dr. Rick López

Show Notes: patticc.com/25

Notas del Programa: patticc.com/s25

In today’s episode, I will be sharing guidelines and best practices for bilingual liturgies, a summary of copyright law for Catholic worship guides and we will hear the rest of my interview with Dr. Rick López about leading music in bilingual liturgies.

Recommended Resources

Best Practices

For Holy Week Resources see Episode 24: Bilingual Holy Week in a Multicultural Parish

Liturgy in a Culturally Diverse Community: A Guide Towards Understanding by Fr. Mark R. Francis, C.S.V. © Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, 2012

Guidelines for a Multilingual Celebration of Mass

Download the Cheat Sheet: Best Practices for Celebrating Bilingual Masses

Descarga la Hoja de Referencia Rápida:Mejores Prácticas para la Celebración deMisa Bilingües

Download Descarga

Thanks! Your download is on its way to your inbox!

¡Gracias! Tu descarga ya está en camino a tu buzón.

Chant for Celebrants:

For specific resources for the Triduum – see Episode 24: Bilingual Holy Week in a Multicultural Parish

Spanish audio of the parts of the Spanish Roman Missal, Third Edition

English audio of the parts of the English Roman Missal, Third Edition – from ICEL & from OCP

Additional Resources for the English Roman Missal, Third Edition from OCP

PDFs of parts of the Spanish Roman Missal, Third Edition

Resources for Music Ministers

Invite Dr. Rick López to come do a workshop

OCP Webinar: Learn techniques to teach your Spanish choir to sing in parts with Estela García López & Rodolfo López

OCP Webinar: How to Incorporate Bilingual Mass Settings with More Authenticity with Jaime Cortez

GIA Bilingual Hymnal Oramos Cantando/ We Pray in Song

OCP Bilingual Hymnal Flor y Canto, Tercera Edición

GIA Bilingual Hymnal ¡Celebremos / Let Us Celebrate! (2017-2019)

OCP Bilingual Songs Collection: Cantemos Unidos/United in Song

OCP Bilingual Psalms Collection: Cantaré Eternamente/For Ever I Will Sing

WLP Bilingual Psalms Collection: Aclama Tierra Entera/Sing All You Lands

GIA Bilingual Psalms Collection: Oramos Cantando / We Pray in Song

Copyright – Music

Sample text for licenses in worship guides

OCP Webinar “License to Sing: Navigating the World of Copyright” with Paul Raspa

One License Service

The Diocese of San Diego has put together lots of great resources related to copyright laws and liturgy:

Christian Copyright Solution’s Practical Church Copyright Guide – Part 1 and Part 2

Copyright Guidelines for Churches from the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church

Copyright Resources from the Music Publishers Association of the United States


If you have other favorite resources, come share them with other ministers in our Gente Puente Facebook group!


Greetings Gente Puente! In today’s episode, I will be sharing guidelines and best practices for bilingual liturgies, a summary of copyright law for Catholic worship guides and we will hear the rest of my interview with Dr. Rick López about leading music in bilingual liturgies.

Multicultural liturgies require sacrifice. There’s always going to be some sacrifice, but for the greater good. Because we are now doing what Christ has asked us to do, which is to be one body in Christ, one body under His name, one Church.

Dr. Rick López, Gente Puente, Episode 25

Si prefieres español, puedes encontrar un resumen del episodio en español y todos los recursos mencionados sobre las mejores prácticas para las misas bilingües en patticc.com/s25.

I am Patti Gutiérrez from Patti’s Catholic Corner. Our team serves Catholic ministers like you who want to connect with the Hispanic community. We make your ministry easier by sharing best practices, resources and encouragement through this Gente Puente Podcast and our Facebook group. And we help you focus on your ministry through our Catholic translation services. Get a quote today at pattic.com/services.

In this episode we are continuing a conversation that we began in Episode 24, so if you haven’t heard that one yet, you might want to go back and listen to that one first so you have a better sense of the context. In episode 24, my guest musician and liturgist, Dr. Rick López, strongly suggested that every parish or diocese that is even considering a bilingual Mass needs to get a copy of and study Fr. Mark Francis’ book called Liturgy in a Culturally Diverse Community: A Guide Towards Understanding.

This is a work that was written by the Multicultural Commission of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC) as a result of an extensive study with parish practitioners and liturgy experts. I fully agree with Dr. Rick that it’s worth buying a copy for all those involved in planning bilingual liturgies in your parish or diocese and studying the guide together. It is a very practical, bilingual book that goes through all the elements of successful liturgies in multicultural communities. You can purchase the book from the FDLC website: https://fdlc.org/publications/44763 and you can find a link in the Show Notes. Today I’m going to share some of the highlights from the book but I hope each of you will take the time to study it as well so you can see the complete liturgical considerations, explanations and principles behind this summary. You can find a Cheat Sheet with bullet points for quick reference in the Show Notes at patticc.com/25. You can also find a link to the USCCB Guidelines for a Multilingual Celebration of Mass which align with this guide from the FDLC.

As I mentioned during the last episode, I recognize that there are many communities that are very diverse with several language groups, but we are going to focus in on bilingual Masses for communities where the main cultural groups speak English and Spanish, since our focus in the Gente Puente Podcast is on Hispanic Catholics.

Before we dive in, I also want to say that the goal is progress, not perfection as they say. What I am going to share here in recapping the guidelines and best practices of bilingual liturgies, may be very far off from the current reality in your parish or diocese. Remember, like we discussed in Episode 24, there is a lot of other integration work that needs to happen outside of liturgy in order for bilingual liturgies to work well. Let’s not get discouraged or frustrated if we’re not there yet. I think we can all learn some things to improve our bilingual liturgies over time and little by little our faith communities will become more and more integrated, inside and outside of liturgy, if we are intentional and open. OK, let’s dive in.

The first essential element to a successful bilingual Mass is good planning. The FDLC guide has a great section that talks about the importance of involving the different cultural groups in planning the liturgy and moving from simply including another language to an actual intercultural experience where each culture shares their gifts with the assembly. He warns against tokenism, just throwing in a piece or two from another culture or language with no real consideration or consultation, in a superficial way. They describe how there should be attention given to the way this process is carried out, not just the final product. We talked a lot about this in Episode 24 and you can find a Cheat Sheet with a summary of Dr. Rick’s suggestions for the background work and formation for this planning team in the Show Notes at patticc.com/24. The FDLC guide also encourages the planning team to consider using art, environment, posture, gesture and movement in addition to the spoken word and music, in order to help all cultural groups to contribute and feel welcomed.

An aspect of bilingual Masses that the FDLC guide also discusses is the aspect of sacred silence in the liturgy. It says, “the way in which a communal silence is observed may differ from culture to culture.” I know at St. Michael’s, the multicultural parish where my family belongs and where I worked for 11 years, this has always been an important aspect to keep in mind. Since our English masses are mostly made up of middle-aged adults and older with just a handful of children, and because in the prevailing culture silence during Mass is more of an absolute thing, the assembly is used to quiet. However, in Hispanic culture, like the FDLC guide says, “silence is observed in a more relative way.” And because the majority in our Spanish masses are small children, this can be particularly challenging. Over the years, our bilingual Masses have improved though, as we have spent some time setting expectations with both language groups, as well as emphasizing good behavior during Mass in our religious education classes and Liturgy of the Word with children. I would always try to offer Liturgy of the Word with children during bilingual Masses, have extra quiet items in the “cry room” and have someone in a hospitality role that could quietly and respectfully return wandering children back to their parents or remind parents that they are welcome to use the “cry room” to soothe a crying child. This always works better if the person with this role already has a relationship with the Hispanic community and carries it out in a pastoral way, so that their assistance will not be seen as unwelcoming or judgmental.

One of the biggest challenges in a bilingual Mass is deciding how much of each language to include. Especially if you have no idea how much of each language group is going to show up! At St. Michael’s we started preparing everything in a way that it could be easily adapted once we saw the assembly. For instance, we had the readings prepared in a binder with each reading printed in English and Spanish. And the lectors knew that things might change depending on the assembly. And the worship guides were prepared in a way that no matter which language was being proclaimed, the assembly could read the language they understood. It’s a lot more work ahead of time, but it helped our Masses to run more smoothly. If you’d like to see samples of the scripts and worship guides I prepared for St. Michael’s, come on over to our Gente Puente Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/gentepuente and check out the learning unit called “Holy Week.”

Even though it is a constant challenge, and like Dr. Rick said, there will always be sacrifice involved, there are some best practices that the FDLC guide describes with regard to language. The overall goal should be to avoid long stretches in a language that is not understood by the entire assembly. It may be helpful to use Latin as a common language for some of the assembly’s parts. The guide mentions that printed worship guides can help make the Word and prayers more accessible, but should not be the only strategy, especially since many cultures do not emphasize literacy in the same way as the prevailing culture here in the U.S.. It says one of the first considerations is the community’s base language, the one understood by the most people, even though it may not be their native language. We will refer to this base language when we get into the different parts of the Mass. No matter what language is the base language, shorter phrases can be repeated. For example, the invitation to prayer throughout the Mass could be “Let us pray. Oremos.”

A beautiful and effective way of including both English and Spanish, as well as the many cultures that may be present, is in creating what the FDLC guide calls a “unity choir.” Bringing together the musicians from the different cultural groups to form one choir for bilingual liturgies. It describes the natural progression that this integration will take and even suggests rotating leadership of the choir and collaborative decision making as the integration progresses. In the interview a little later in the show, Dr. Rick will give a lot of suggestions for music ministers that align with the guide as well, so that’s all I’ll say for now about music. You can find more resources for music ministers in the Show Notes as well at patticc.com/25.

Now, let’s get into some of the guidelines and best practices for the specific parts of the Mass. Starting with the Liturgy of the Word. Again, the goal is to avoid long stretches in a language that not everyone knows. One of the suggestions that the FDLC guide gives is to use alternating languages for the First and Second readings and introducing each reading with the one-sentence summary found in the Lectionary in the other language. So, for example, if the first reading will be in English, someone could read the one-line summary in Spanish before the reading is proclaimed in English. And then do the opposite for the second reading. The psalm is a great place to include use a bilingual option, which like Dr. Rick will explain later, are now readily available.

The FDLC guide does state that while the other readings should not be repeated, it is appropriate to repeat the Gospel reading if it is not too long. Although the introduction and conclusion are only done once. For example, the introduction could be done in English, then the Gospel read in English, skip the conclusion, read the Gospel in Spanish and then conclude in Spanish.

The homily will of course depend on the language skills of the priest or deacon who is preaching. The FDLC guide describes that the ideal situation is when the preacher basically prepares two homilies – one main homily in the base language that speaks to the prevailing culture of the assembly and a second, shorter homily in the other that speaks to the culture of the smaller group. This second homily should be interwoven into the main homily so as to avoid long stretches in a language not everyone understands. When this is not possible, the guide explains that “the preacher may have to invite qualified members of the other language group to aid him in the presentation of the homily,” and that most appropriately it would be a deacon.

I know in our experience, when the homilist is monolingual, it has worked well for him to provide summaries of the main points of his homily for someone bilingual to stand with him at the ambo and read or interpret in the second language every few minutes. Again, the goal being to avoid long stretches in one language as well as a pure repetition of everything said which can become tedious, especially if there are a lot of bilingual people in the assembly.

The last point for the Liturgy of the Word is that the petitions are an appropriate place to use each language included in the liturgy. You can alternate languages for each petition, or even include a short intro like “For the sick” and then continue in the other language. You can use a uniform response that can be learned easily, like “Domine, exaudi nos.”

And finally, as for the prayers of the Mass, the FDLC guide recommends that the Collect Prayer be in the base language, as well as the entire Eucharistic Prayer from the Preface through the Doxology to preserve the integrity of the prayer. The assembly’s responses can of course be bilingual or alternate languages and ideally the entire congregation would learn a bilingual Mass setting for such an occasion. The language of the minor euchology which includes things like the Prayer over the Gifts and Prayer after Communion can alternate languages, but each prayer should be prayed in one language, not split up. The same thing goes with the Communion Rite which should be prayed in one language, the language not used in the Eucharistic Prayer. For the Our Father, invite all members of the assembly to pray in their preferred language simultaneously.

That’s everything in a nutshell! 🙂 I know it’s a lot of information, so check out the Cheat Sheet in the Show Notes at patticc.com/25 for the bullet points and be sure to order a copy of Liturgy in a Culturally Diverse Community by Fr. Mark Francis for all those who have a role in planning bilingual liturgies in your parish or diocese! You can get a copy at from the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions at https://fdlc.org/publications/44763. As I said in the last episode, a good, bilingual liturgy is a lot of work, but it’s so worth it! We can all take baby steps to improve over time. Like it says at the end of the FDLC guide: “In promoting greater sensitivity to the various ways culturally diverse assemblies express our common Catholic tradition, we are all enriched and the face of Christ in our world is brought into clearer focus.”

Now we’re going to hear a little more of my interview with Dr. Rick López. If you’d like to hear a little more about his background and ministry, be sure to check out episode 24. He was a parish music minister for nearly 40 years and he is now the Associate Director of Music and Liturgy for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in Texas. This section of the interview focuses more on tips, strategies and resources for ministers leading music in bilingual liturgies. You can find the resources mentioned here and others in the Show Notes at patticc.com/25. At this point in the interview we’re talking about preparing for a bilingual Mass by pulling together a planning team where every culture group is well represented.

Now let’s hear the rest of my interview with Dr. Rick!


There is a methodology that is very important. Once we have established the importance of gatherings of the dominant cultures, then, here’s one of the things that need to happen if we decide we are going to celebrate together; for example, let’s say Holy Thursday, which is a great starting point. It’s going to be a bilingual Holy Thursday celebration, the beginning of the Triduum. The pastoral leadership have made this decision, the other organizations within the parish have been brought on board with this idea, and everybody is hopefully agreeing it is a good idea. The first thing that has to happen is the leadership that’s going to be involved with that liturgy (i.e. I’m talking about: the Liturgical ministers, the Eucharist ministers, the lectors, the hospitality ministers, the musicians, etc). So the decision has been made, we are going to have a meeting to plan bilingual Holy Thursday. Here’s the date and here’s the time. Do you know how I get them there, Patti?


I call them. I call them or I see them face to face, and put that little flyer in their hands.

Ok. So there needs to be a more personal touch with the Hispanic community?

A face to face invitation with a brief explanation of what this is about and what are we going to talk about. For example: “Esperanza, you as the leader of the Hispanic lectors, I need you there to help us plan this Liturgy.” I either talk to her on the phone, or even better face to face. “Esperanza, please come.” She says: “Ok, I’ll be there.” Then, that goes on and on. The leader of the musicians, or maybe more than one, the leaders of the Eucharistic ministers, leaders of hospitality, all of them. By and large, the only way they are going to get there is if they have been invited voice to voice, or even better face to face. It’s just a reality of our Latino culture. I cannot overemphasize that. It is very important.

The music in general, if I could speak to that, for that evening. Here’s what happens. Here’s where I always try to be very sensitive too. Now we’ve had our meeting, and I’ve invited Pedro and invited Rudy and Jane; we have two or three groups to help us all prepare the music together for our bilingual Liturgy. Now we have a multilingual, parish choir that is going to serve at mass that night that represents the parish at large. I want that choir to look like everybody who is seating out there. I wanted it to look as mixed (in a good way) as possible as everyone who is seating in the parish. I want that choir to represent the parish at large that has been asked to come together in this particular evening.

Now, what I don’t want to do is this. I may have the Spanish choir from the 2 o’clock mass on Sunday; I may have the Spanish choir from the Saturday night mass at 7, and then I may have the traditional English choir from the 10 o’clock mass on Sunday. We have all come together. What I don’t want to do – and this is a lot more work – I don’t want the Spanish choir doing this hymn, then the English choir doing that hymn. Then the other Spanish choir doing something else. That’s not what this is about, and it’s not what we are trying to do. The whole concept of doing this liturgy together as a unified family is to do much as we possibly can together, and that includes the choir. I don’t want this ping pong going back and forth. We are going to learn everything together. My 10 o’clock English choir may roll their eyes because they can’t speak Spanish. While my Spanish choirs are rolling their eyes because don’t speak English. I know, but multicultural liturgies require sacrifice. By their very nature there are going to be things that one community or the other community is going to be asked to do something they don’t normally do, so there’s always going to be some sacrifice but for the greater good. Because we are now doing what Christ has asked us to do, which is to be one body in Christ, one body under His name, one Church.

To make that work we all have to give up and give in to this or that, including the choir. I make them understand we are all sacrificing something, but we need to work together. One of the ways that helps is to use a lot of psalmody. What do I mean by that? A lot of psalmody means that the choir (especially if they are brand new to each other), they use short responses, short refrains, and shorter versions of bilingual sacred music. I kind of give them baby steps. We are not going to do long and evolved choral motifs for a bilingual Holy Saturday.

There’s all kinds of psalmody or verse/refrain, or even hymns and songs where the combined choirs aren’t been too demanded upon to sing in a language they are not used to. Then I let my cantors do the longer songs, maybe it is a verse to the hymn of Pan de Vida, and the choir just sings at the very beginning. I keep it as simple as I possibly can, but I’m emphatic that we all sing together as much as we can from beginning to end. You can do that by keeping things on the simpler side as far music compositions are concerned. I don’t want to isolate any choir, and I want us to do everything together as much as we possibly can, even if it means taking baby steps in the beginning. That very concept you would use in any future bilingual or multilingual liturgies that you may have at your parish. In time, this will also help the assembly to participate in the hymn. The assembly is being invited and encouraged because the choir is singing the refrain bilingually, so they are going to be inclined to participate with the now new, bilingual choir. Those are some of the rubrics that I’ve used. You have to be a little bit creative in making things as practical as possible, but also making sure you are accomplishing the goal set forth.

What would be some of your practical advice or tips for somebody planning these liturgies to help the congregation to prepare ahead of time, not just the musicians and the ministers? How do you prepare the broader congregation to come together? And how do you help them in the actual liturgy to participate more fully?

That’s a very good question, and unfortunately there’s no easy answer to that. However, this is one thing that I have seen work: is that slowly start to introduce the idea. One of the things that could be done pretty easily, why not on occasion (as long as the readings are available in both languages in a missalette or worship guide) have the Second Reading or maybe the First Reading in the corresponding language. What that means is: let’s make sure that if we are reading the First Reading in Spanish, that the English reading people know what we are praying and presenting because it is right there in their books. Little by little we can start to do that on occasional Sundays. Obviously, your celebrant can also start doing the same thing with some of the prayers. What you are doing, you are getting your assemblies (because at this point we are talking about separate communities) getting used to the idea on a very subtle, but slow (not aggressive) basis you are introducing this other language. What you are also doing is reminding them that we have this other family here; that our parish does consist of more than this one culture, more than this one language. Obviously with the music you can do the same thing. On occasion, in the 10 o’clock English mass, we’ve never done a bilingual hymn. Then all of a sudden, we are doing maybe a hymn that is traditionally English, but now I got a bilingual setting of Amazing Grace or I’m the Bread of Life. There’s are some beautiful translations of “Yo Soy el Pan de Vida” that they’ve never heard. You don’t have to do the whole hymn bilingually but throw in a double refrain on occasion. Again, subtly introducing them to the whole idea of bilingual, sacred repertoire.

There are all kinds of bilingual hymns now. I’ve got a great hymnal called “Oramos Cantando,” [We Pray in Song] that everything is bilingual cover to cover. There are plenty of resources out there that help you introduce the idea.


We will continue with my conversation with Dr. Rick in a moment, but first I want to ask you: How would you feel if you had all the documents you needed in English and Spanish but you no longer had to translate them yourself or beg your bilingual colleagues to translate them for you? Are there translations you need for your ministry, but you don’t have time to research the specialized vocabulary? Would you be able to focus better on your ministry and what you do best if you could hand off your translations to someone you trust?

The team at Patti’s Catholic Corner would love to be that resource for you. We have years of experience in direct ministry, and we know what it’s like to have so much to do and not have a team big enough to do it all. Now we use our experience and expertise to serve ministries like yours. You can trust us with the translation of any Catholic ministry document and we will serve you in a way that is accurate, faithful to your message and easy for you. Save time today! Get a quote for your project at patticc.com.

Now let’s continue with my conversation with Dr. Rick.

You mentioned a few resources that are out there that are bilingual, especially with regard to the music, and you sent me a list that I’ll put links in the Show Notes to some of those bilingual resources for music ministers. You also said that you are working on one that should be available soon. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Yes, I’ll be glad to. I have a couple that are already the outline for a guide; we’ll just call it a workbook for Hispanic Music Ministers. It talks about the various aspects of the Liturgy that we need to be sensitive to, but it also talks about music in general. This is a big subject: what is considered sacred music in our Spanish masses? This is kind of a challenge: what we call secular music in our Hispanic celebrations and that whole discussion. In other words, what’s acceptable? It will be audio and video, and also visual with a DVD. The DVD is probably going to be the basics of how to read music: the notes and chords. How to read music in a very basic form. We will use the most popular Latino hymnody in songs as the rubrics for the basics of how to read music. Why is this important? One of the challenges with our Latino musicians is that they don’t know how to read music. They learn it by memory or orally, and that’s fine. Unfortunately, that limits their options for music in the Mass.

Especially in trying to come together and learn the music for bilingual liturgy, that’s a challenge.

Exactly right. One of the key aspects of this workbook is real simple rubrics, but approachable on how to read music. I’m very happy to tell you that we’ve come up with a program as part of this workbook on how to do that.

Sounds great! Before I let you go, here on the Gente Puente Podcast one of our main goals is also creating community and encouraging space for ministers to support each other. I want to hear from you after so many years leading, can you share something that you have learned about being a leader in ministry that could help other ministers that are listening?

Yes, of course. What I’ve learned (especially helping and serving Hispanic music ministers), is that there’s a tremendous need to provide formation, especially liturgical music formation for our Hispanic music ministers. No matter what level they are coming from. In other words, even if they are professionals. The background is not there for whatever reasons, but there’s a tremendous need. Here’s the best part though. Whenever I do these workshops by myself or with some of my cohorts (other leaders here in Houston), the best thing is that they are tremendously appreciative of what we do. The need is painfully apparent. but most importantly when we are done, they thank us and tell us “gracias” for sharing the gifts that God has brought into our lives whether is our education or experience. They thank us for the gifts that we’ve shared, and then finally, they ask us: “When can you come back? When are you going to offer it again?”

That’s what I have learned and continue to do this as much as I possibly can within the constraints of my position with this Office. There’s still a tremendous need all over the country.

Thank you. Before we go, can you please close in prayer for all of those who serve the Church.

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

Lord God, help me to feel free enough to let go and to pursue and to never give up.

But to let You take over my life. Take over my ministry. Take over this that You have put in my heart.

To accept Your presence in my life. Transform my ego to give away to humble service and set free my self-consciousness, my concerns, my timidity, lighten my worry and need to control outcomes.

Accept my prayer. Help me to accept You and the graces of the Holy Spirit that I ask for today.

Send me the gift of breath that I may greet with joy the Spirit, which I know is singing deep within my heart and in my mind.

In all this in Jesus name we pray.


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

Thank you, Dr. Rick, for coming on and sharing your expertise with us. I really appreciate it.

You’re very welcome, Patti. Thank you for the invitation.

Que Dios la bendiga.



I hope you enjoyed this small segment of the interview with Dr. Rick! If you want to hear the whole thing, again, check out Episode 24. Remember that if you are listening to this episode in the future (not in the Spring of 2019), the resource that Dr. Rick mentioned he was in the process of creating may already be available! Be sure to check out the Show Notes at patticc.com/25 for updated links. Also, as Dr. Rick mentioned in Episode 24, he is open to coming to your Diocese to give a workshop, just email him at rlopez@archgh.org to get in touch with him.

Before I wrap up this episode, I want to bring up copyright rules, because it’s something I always found so challenging in my ministry, especially when it came to worship guides. I’m going to put links to a couple great resources that summarize copyright rules, as well as a webinar from OCP called “Navigating the World of Copyright.” Actually, I’m going to link to several webinars related to this episode that you may find helpful. So check out the Show Notes at patticc.com/25.

Before I go into any details, please know that I am not a lawyer, I am not an expert in copyright laws and this is for informational purposes. You should consult an attorney for specific guidance. I highly recommend watching the OCP webinar with Paul Raspa to hear details about his tips to always attribute, don’t assume fair use or public domain, limit sharing and copying and obtain written permission in the form of a license. He uses the analogy that I can give you permission to use my car, but it’s still mine, just like a copyright holder can give permission, but the treasure is still theirs. He also states that you need written permission for things like reproduction, adaptation, distribution and any performance, whether that is public or digital.

The best and easiest way for Catholic parishes and dioceses to obtain these licenses for Catholic music is to use OneLicense.net which is now jointly owned by GIA Publications and Oregon Catholic Press. OCP used to run their licenses through LicenSingOnline.org but they have merged and now it’s all under OneLicense.net. They have many options available depending on your use and the size of your congregation. Keep in mind you need a music reproduction license for printing music or even just lyrics in a worship guide, projecting it on a screen and even to include pieces in your bulletin or home study materials. You have to both obtain the license, pay the fees as well as report on an annual basis which songs you’ve used. All of this work is well worth the effort though, because there can be real penalties and stiff fines, even for churches, when these copyright laws are not followed.

Another area that people commonly get in trouble for violating copyright rules is with using images. You cannot just find an image on Google and copy and paste it into your worship guide. Just like with music, you have to have written permission from the copyright holder. So, when you find an image you like through a Google search, for example by using the scripture citation of the Gospel for that Mass, you need to figure out who is the original artist or copyright holder and ask them for permission. Our Music Director here at the Diocese of Owensboro, Mike Bogdan, told me that often times when he has contacted an artist directly, they have given the Diocese permission to use their art free of charge. He recommends of course at least sending a little gift, flowers or something as a token of appreciation though. Or others have a small licensing fee. As Paul Raspa said though, make sure you get and keep a record of all the permissions in writing. Other options are finding online collections that are already labeled as copyright free – just pay attention to the fine print and be sure it includes what you plan to use it for. Another idea is to contact your bulletin company if you happen to print your parish bulletin with a company that provides liturgical art, sometimes their license also extends to use in worship guides.

And lastly, there is the issue of printing the liturgical texts from the Lectionary and the Roman Missal. Parishes and dioceses in the United States have permission to print texts for one-time use in worship aids from the liturgical texts that the copyright belongs to ICEL – the International Commission on English in the Liturgy and the USCCB – the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. So that currently includes the English Lectionary, the Roman Missal and the recently approved Misal Romano, tercera edición for use in the U.S. What it does not include, yet, is the Spanish Lectionary. Although there is a U.S. version of the Spanish Lectionary in process, until that is published, parishes and dioceses have permission to use the Lectionary from the Mexican Bishop’s Conference and it is common practice to print these readings in the same manner. In the Show Notes you can find sample paragraphs for music and text licenses. Use of these liturgical texts outside of parish and diocesan liturgies needs a different kind of license, especially for any commercial-use, so you will need to contact the copyright owners. For printing the readings in worship guides on a regular basis visit http://www.usccb.org/bible/permissions/index.cfm which explains how to obtain a license.

Example texts


All Music and texts reprinted by permission of the publishers.

Onelicense.net #A______________

Cover art by ______. Other images by ______. © [enter copyright holder if applicable] Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, ICEL. All rights reserved.

Los textos de la Sagrada Escritura han sido tomados de los Leccionarios I, II y III, propiedad de la Comisión Episcopal de Pastoral Litúrgica de la Conferencia Episcopal Mexicana, copyright © 1987, quinta edición de septiembre de 2004. Utilizados con permiso. Todos los derechos reservados.

Los textos han sido tomados del Misal Romano, tercera edición © 2014 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – Conferencia Episcopal Mexicana. All rights reserved.

Wow! I don’t know if you feel like I did when putting all this together, but it can be overwhelming! 😀 I pray that my research and all the links found in the Show Notes and the Cheat Sheets from Episode 24 and this episode will help you and your ministry immensely. My goal is to provide you with a central place to find what you need and to provide easily digestible material, so you can get back to focusing on your ministry and what you do best! If you have found these things helpful, I would love if you would do me the favor of sharing the episodes or Cheat Sheets or links with your colleagues who may find them helpful as well. And if you take a minute to hop over to iTunes and leave a review for the show it will help more and more Catholic ministers to take advantage of these resources as well. And I would really appreciate it!

Again, don’t forget that if you’d like to join our online community and share resources, ideas and encouragement with other Catholic ministers who minister with and to Hispanic Catholics, we’d love to have you! Just go to www.facebook.com/groups/gentepuente or just search Gente Puente and you’ll find us.

And lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the Gente Puente podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or your favorite podcast app so you don’t miss any future episode!

Thanks for listening today. May God bless you and your ministry as gente puente!

35 episodes available. A new episode about every 10 days averaging 42 mins duration .