Recruitment and training of confident Bible readers vital to Catholic life in England and Wales

01/12/2014 1:22 pm

Reader at Mass - Clifton Cathedral

The Catholic bishop with national oversight of the work of evangelisation in England and Wales has highlighted the need to recruit and train more people to read confidently in public, and understand better, the content of the Bible.

Speaking ahead of Catholic Bible Sunday, which is celebrated on 7 December 2014, The Bishop of Plymouth the Rt Rev Mark O’Toole, Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said:

"The Bible is a treasure in Catholic life in which God speaks to men and women in a human way. The Word of God is vital to our life and mission. There is already a generous network of people in parishes across England and Wales who read the Scriptures at Sunday Mass and we are all grateful for their generous service. In recognising this, we need to challenge the quality of reading in Church and the individual reader’s depth of understanding.”

He added:

“The Sunday reader makes an important contribution to parish mission. This year’s Bible Sunday offers resources to support readers to develop their skills. We all notice when someone has prepared properly to read at Mass. It is a beautiful thing to hear and witness. There are many good resources to support better reading at Mass and I encourage all present readers to use them. The Church invites new people to come forward, in consultation with their parish priest, to offer themselves for this important ministry in the life of the Church. It would be wonderful to have a growing network of confident readers proclaiming the Word of God at Sunday Mass. Hopefully, they will feel inspired to share their love of God’s Word in their daily lives."

It is estimated there are around 30,000 regular Mass readers in England and Wales. They are the focus of this year’s Catholic Bible Sunday which is themed Hear, Reflect, Proclaim.

A number of free resources are available online including:

  • ‘Tips for Readers’ card
  • templates for a Readers’ Commitment or Blessing
  • links to Bible resources
  • prayers
  • children’s liturgy materials
  • homily notes

Catholic Bible Sunday is resourced by the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Bishops’ Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis. The Group has also produced a Study Guide to a Catholic teaching document called Verbum Domini and next year plans to host a Scripture Conference in Manchester.

The Chair of the Working Group, Rev Dr Adrian Graffy, has recently been nominated by Pope Francis to become a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion for the Catholic Church worldwide. 

Links and Information

The estimated figure of 30,000 readers was arrived at on the basis that, on average, 10 people are on a parish readers’ rota covering 3,000 churches in England and Wales. In some parishes there will be many more than 10 people on a rota, so 30,000 is a conservative estimate; the actual figure could be much higher than this.

Verbum Domini Study Guide

Scripture Working Group

Special Edition Catholic Bible Sunday Packs

In celebration of Catholic Bible Sunday 2014, the Catholic Truth Society has created this special edition pack for parishioners and Mass readers, to help deepen their understanding of the Word of God.

Bible Sunday Parishioners’ Pack

Bible Sunday Readers’ Pack


Clare Ward
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