Abbot Marcel Rooney founds institute to deepen understanding of sacred liturgy Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, May. 17, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Abbot Marcel Rooney, OSB, right, has founded a new service to the Church, The Orate Pastoral Institute of Sacred Liturgy, Music and Art. Dr. Jeffrey Karls, left, is the co-founder and vice-president of the institute, which is based in Madison. (Catholic Herald photo/Joe Ptak)

MADISON -- In Latin, “orate” means “pray.” More than just an invitation, it is a command to pray, says Abbot Marcel Rooney, OSB, former abbot primate of the Benedictine Order.

“We feel that in the last half century, all the changes in the liturgy have led us to emphasize performance. There has been a lack of training in the spirituality of liturgy and prayer,” he observed.

This has influenced Abbot Rooney to found a new service to the Church, the Orate Pastoral Institute of Sacred Liturgy, Music and Art.

Responding to needs

The new institute is intended to respond to two particular needs:

• Fulfilling what the popes of the last century as well as Pope Benedict XVI have requested, that is, that there be a renewal of liturgical prayer in parishes and religious communities, and in all the members of the Church, including laity and clergy.

• Fulfilling the desires and requests of many ministers and people in parishes and religious communities, who feel that in the last decades we have achieved a certain adequate level of performance of the sacred liturgy, but without achieving at the same time a deepening of the prayer-life of those who participate in that liturgy.

Therefore, the Orate institute is dedicated to fostering catechesis of the liturgy, not merely for intellectual content, but so that “the faithful . . . be led to full, conscious, and active participation” in the liturgy as called for by the  Second Vatican Council.

“We want to help people come to a deeper grasp of the liturgy,” said Abbot Rooney, who is the founder and president of the Orate Institute, based in Madison.

The co-founder and vice-president is Dr. Jeffrey Karls. They both met at Magdalen College in New Hampshire, where Karls served as the college president.

Supporting the Orate Institute
Those interested in supporting the work of the Orate Institute may contact:
• Right Rev. Abbot Marcel Rooney, OSB, 722 South High Point Rd., Madison, WI 53719, 608-203-6735, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
¶ Dr. Jeffrey Karls, 702 South High Point Rd., Madison, WI 53719, 608-748-2009, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
The Web site for the institute can be found at

Abbot Rooney has a great deal of experience in the field of liturgy. He was a professor of liturgy. He was a professor of liturgical theology and pastoral liturgy at seminaries in the United States. He also was a professor at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy in Rome.

As abbot primate of the Benedictine Order, he had the opportunity to understand the experience of the Church across the world regarding the celebration and praying of the liturgy.

Three-fold mission

Abbot Rooney said the Orate Institute has a three-fold mission:

• Theological — To help people understand the theology behind the liturgy. “We want people to know not only what to do, but why,” said Abbot Rooney.

• Spiritual — To relate what we’re doing in liturgy to the interior life. “We want to not just say the words and do the action, but get beneath to a deeper level,” said Abbot Rooney. He noted that a person could go through the liturgy and never meet God. “We’ve really got to help people pray so that they do meet God,” he emphasized. “We hope our little institute — which could be bigger — could have an impact on that.”

• Pastoral — To do things well. Abbot Rooney points out that many altar servers, for example, don’t know why they should fold their hands or genuflect. “We want to teach them that there’s a reason for reverence,” he said.

Sense of the sacred

Karls noted that we call the Mass “the celebration of the liturgy” for a reason. “It’s meant to be an encounter with Christ. It’s a divine activity, not just a human social activity.”

He said the “sense of the sacred” in liturgy is often not understood. “The Orate Institute wants to enlighten the priests, laity, musicians, servers, readers of sacred liturgy, and others that this is prayer. We think the institute will be a great benefit to the Church.”

Video series

The Orate Institute is preparing a series of 40 video reflections on the liturgy featuring Abbot Rooney. The reflections are an average of 15 minutes in length.

Joe Ptak of Memory Lane Productions in Sun Prairie is the videographer for the series. The reflections by Abbot Rooney will be enhanced with sacred music and pictures.

The series breaks down all the parts of the Mass from the procession to the recession. A study guide will accompany the series.

Abbot Rooney said the series could be used in parishes to train liturgical ministers, as well as for all forms of adult education, including study groups and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). It could also be used at the high school level.

“The reflections are short enough that they could be used in a class or workshop followed by discussion,” said Karls.

Abbot Rooney is in the process of completing the editing of the series and expects to be done with production by the end of May. He and Karls hope the series will be ready for purchase by early fall.

Serving the diocese

Abbot Rooney said that Bishop Robert C. Morlino welcomed the Orate Institute to have its residence in the Diocese of Madison, although the institute is operated independent of the diocese.

Bishop Morlino said, “Because of the great importance of the Sacred Liturgy, I am happy to welcome in the Diocese of Madison the foundation of the Orate Pastoral Institute of Sacred Liturgy, Music and Art. This institute is dedicated to deepening the understanding of the liturgy in all Catholic people but especially in those who are involved in the leadership of liturgical life in parishes and other religious communities. May God bless the efforts of this new institute and through those efforts bless our Catholic people everywhere.”

“We’re here to assist and serve the diocese, in addition to our work beyond the diocese,” said Abbot Rooney.

The Orate Institute is assisting the diocesan Office of Worship by providing a series of workshops for priests, deacons, and other liturgical ministers.

The institute has also offered courses in the diocesan Seat of Wisdom Institute and plans a series on the sacraments and the Second Vatican Council documents on the liturgy in the future.

Abbot Rooney is meeting with all the priests of the diocese to explain what the institute is and to offer ways it can be of assistance at the parish level.

“I am available for parish missions and to give talks on the liturgy, expecially appropriate in the upcoming Year of Faith.”

Karls emphasized that it is an opportunity to teach what the Church has taught. “There has been confusion about what the Second Vatican Council actually said, and there have been many documents on liturgy since the council.

“The teachings have been provided by the Church, but they aren’t getting to the laity. We have resources and people have to learn about them. It’s a great time to be Catholic!”

Institute needs support

In addition to using traditional methods for catechesis — including classes, workshops, and seminars — the Orate Institute intends to use contemporary means of communication to present its offerings: Web sites and computer technology, CDs, and DVDs. It takes money to cover the expenses of production.

To achieve its goals, the new institute needs the assistance of interested persons who will help support the institute with prayers and financial support.

Please support our advertisers: