St Werburgh's Roman Catholic Parish, Chester

The Mass

The main act of communal worship in the Roman Catholic Church is the Holy Mass. At St Werburgh's, Mass is celebrated daily. The main weekly celebrations take place on Sunday. The Saturday evening celebration at Rowton Methodist Church, Moor Lane, Waverton, is the vigil Mass (the first Mass of Sunday), and serves the Parish community who live and worship away from Chester city centre.

The late morning Mass of Sunday (usually at 10:45 am) is particularly well suited for families; a children's liturgy group takes care of young parishioners in approximately the 3-11 year age range during the Liturgy of the Word.

We welcome visitors, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to join us in the celebration of Mass. Service books, cards with the new translation of the people's responses during the liturgy, hymn books and song sheets are available as needed to help everyone to follow what is happening.

The structure of the Mass

A Catholic Mass has four parts.

1. The Introductory Rites

The people are welcomed, and the congregation joins in the Penitential Rite, in which we reflect on and acknowledge our shortcomings in the sight of God, and ask for His forgiveness. We ask for God's mercy and (except during the solemn seasons of Advent and Lent) proclaim His Glory.

2. The Liturgy of the Word

A number of readings from Scripture are given. On Sundays and special feast days there are usually three main readings, one from the Old Testament, one from the letters or historical books of the New Testament, and one from the Gospels which give accounts of the life of Christ. On other days, there are two main readings. The readings are interspersed with psalms and acclamations in which the congregation participate. Following the readings, the priest will usually deliver a homily or sermon.

On Sundays, before the next part of the Mass begins, a collecting plate is circulated, in which members of the congregation may place their financial contribution towards the upkeep of the Parish. This is a voluntary contribution, and many parishioners may have made other arrangements to contribute through bank standing orders.

3. The Liturgy of the Eucharist

The Eucharist is the Sacrament at the heart of Mass, the great Thanksgiving that commemorates Christ's Last Supper on Earth, and His Sacrifice on the cross. The bread and wine that will be consecrated are brought in procession to the altar and offered up to God. During the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest intercedes with God on behalf of all people, living and dead. At the solemn moment of Consecration, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ in an echo of the Last Supper and Christ's gift of himself, body and soul, for His people. The Eucharistic Prayer  concludes with the Sanctus ("Holy, holy, holy"), in which the congregation joins, as they also pray together the Our Father, the prayer of Christ Himself that binds us all together in the one family of God.

The congregation then comes forward to receive the consecrated bread and wine, the act of communion that affirms their common membership of the Church of Christ. While only baptised Catholics may receive the communion bread and wine, we welcome all who wish to receive the blessing of the Church to come forward at this time, placing their right hand across their body on their left shoulder.

4. The Concluding Rites

After receiving communion, the congregation returns to its seats for a period of quiet reflection. At this time, announcements are made to inform the parishioners of forthcoming events in the life of the Parish. Occasionally a second voluntary collection may be taken to raise money for some particular good cause. The priest then dismisses the congregation in a spirit of thanksgiving and joy.