Q: Given the priest shortage can a priest arrive in time for Liturgy of Eucharist after laity have led the liturgy of the Word? I service a number of ‘Mass Centers’ in Australia on a Sunday. There is limited time to travel between my three Parish communities. One of the communities will celebrate soon its patronal feast. I am wondering if it’s permissible to stay after the first mass for a little while to participate in a festive morning tea and then arrive in time at the next mass centre to preside over the Liturgy of the Eucharist – after an instituted acolyte (or maybe a deacon if i can find one who’s available) has led the Opening Rites and Liturgy of the Word.
I suspect this may not be allowed; nonetheless, I thought I would ask an expert.
A: It’s a clever idea, but, no, that won’t work. The priest presides over the whole function. Even a concelebrant who arrives after mass has begun is not supposed to vest and slip in.
There are other options. The conditions may favor a Sunday celebration in the absence of a priest for that one occasion at the next mass centre. Of, if you’d like to celebrate mass, you may start it late and abbreviate some parts – shortening the opening hymn, or the prayer of the faithful – that sort of thing. The first and second reading may be omitted at masses with children and on Palm Sunday for pastoral reasons, so perhaps by extension, that could be done on this occasion.
I regret you find yourself in this situation. Everyone wants to pray on Sunday with a priest. How sad when it becomes so difficult to do.