Brief History of CAL

A Brief History of the Catholic Academy of Liturgy

Katharine E. Harmon (CAL Executive Committee, 2016-2018)

The Catholic Academy of Liturgy (CAL) originated as a forum for Roman Catholic members of the North American Academy of Liturgy (NAAL) to “dialogue concerning Christian liturgy” and to promote leadership that embrace “principles articulated in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and subsequent documents, especially the principle of full, conscious and active participation” (Constitution of CAL, art. 2, §2.2.1).  CAL convenes annually as a pre-meeting to NAAL, and seeks to foster dialogue and community between the Church and the academy, to develop collaborative scholarly endeavors amongst its members, and to engage in practical pastoral questions within the contemporary Church.

An organizing committee, composed of John Baldovin, S.J., Andrew Ciferni, O. Praem., Rev. Michael Driscoll, Edward Foley, O.F.M., Cap. Larry Madden, S.J., Mary Alice Piil, C.S.J., Victoria Tufano, and Rev. Richard Vosko first met in January 2001 during the NAAL meeting in St. Louis, Missouri.  The formation of the Catholic Academy of Liturgy was formally proposed by Foley, and first announced at Driscoll’s vice-presidential address, in January of 2002 in Reston, Virginia. 

Joyce Ann Zimmerman, C.P.P.S., Ciferni, and Foley, who were elected as the first executive committee, arranged a meeting with Cardinal Francis George of Chicago to inform him of CAL’s existence.  Zimmerman also developed the first logo for CAL (pictured above).  CAL officially convened for the first time in 2003, inviting all Roman Catholic members of the NAAL to attend.  Some of CAL’s members had previously been attending other Catholic pre-meetings, such as that of the Jesuits.  Such groups elected to suspend in order to attend CAL.

The earliest meetings of CAL chiefly focused on networking and news-sharing among Catholic liturgists, with significant portions of the formal CAL agenda allotted to reports on conventions, committees, and conferences in which CAL members had participated.  Meanwhile, the executive committee worked on drafting the constitution for CAL (approved 2002) and its by-laws (approved 2005).  From its beginning, CAL members experimented with intentionally dividing their activities between presentations and reports during a formal morning session, and participating in voluntary interest groups in the afternoons.  One of these interest groups resulted in published resources: A Commentary on the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2008 Catholic Press Association Award winner) (LitPress 2008 and A Commentary on the Order of the Roman Missal (LitPress 2011).  This pattern of publishing was continued with CAL’s support of A Handbook for Catholic Preaching (LitPress 2016).

Foley served as Secretary and Treasurer until the 2008 meeting in Savannah, Georgia; at this time, in order to facilitate fundraising as a tax-exempt corporation, CAL was incorporated in the State of Massachusetts.  Robert Daly, S.J., resident of Boston, Massachusetts, assumed the position of Treasurer and Clerk, and James F. Walsh, S.J., provided invaluable pro bono services to support this endeavor.  Driscoll assumed the role of Treasurer in 2015, in addition to taking on the role of webmaster for CAL.  Stephen Wilbricht, C.S.C., also a resident of Massachusetts, adopted the position of clerk in 2017 at the Washington, D.C. meeting.

In more recent meetings, the CAL executive team has chosen to increase the allotment of time for presentations and discussion, while limiting the amount of time spent on reports.  Some recent topics/presentations have included a panel discussion on the implementation of the 2011 Roman Missal (2011); liturgical diversity in Canada (2012); the future of liturgical studies (2013); liturgy and healing (2016); and liturgy and technology (2018).  In 2017, the CAL met jointly with the Lutheran pre-meeting, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

I am grateful to Robert Daly, Michael Driscoll, Ed Foley, and Joyce Ann Zimmerman for assistance in composing this history.  Other information was drawn from CAL executive committee minutes (archived by Katharine E. Harmon; for more information, please contact, and publically available minutes on CAL’s website.

The Catholic Academy of Liturgy Executive Teams:

2003 (Indianapolis) Presiding:
Joyce Ann Zimmerman, CPPS, Edward Foley, O.F.M., Cap., Andrew Ciferni, O. Praem.

2004 (New York City) Presiding:
Edward Foley, O.F.M., Cap., Andrew Ciferni, O. Praem., Julia Upton, R.S.M.

2005 (Louisville) Presiding:
Andrew Ciferni, O. Praem., Julie Upton, R.S.M., John Baldovin, S.J.

2006 (San Diego) Presiding:
Julie Upton, R.S.M., John Baldovin, S.J., Mary Alice Piil, C.S.J.

2007 (Toronto) Presiding:
John Baldovin, S.J., Mary Alice Piil, C.S.J., Kathleen Harmon, SNDdeN

2008 (Savannah) Presiding:
Mary Alice Piil, C.S.J., Kathleen Harmon, SNDdeN, Keith Pecklers, S.J.

2009 (Baltimore) Presiding: Kathleen Harmon, SNDdeN, Keith Pecklers, S.J., Richard McCarron

2010 (Milwaukee) Presiding:
Keith Pecklers, S.J., Richard McCarron, Joanne Pierce

2011 (San Francisco) Presiding:
Richard McCarron, Joanne Pierce, Michael Driscoll

2012 (Montreal) Presiding:
Joanne Pierce, Michael Driscoll, Mark Wedig

2013 (Albuquerque) Presiding:
Michael Driscoll, Mark Wedig, Anthony Ruff, O.S.B.

2014 (Orlando) Presiding:
Mark Wedig, Anthony Ruff [chair], O.S.B., Victoria Tufano

2015 (Minneapolis) Presiding:
Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., Victoria Tufano, Steve Janco

2016 (Houston) Presiding:
Victoria Tufano, Steve Janco, Katharine E. Harmon

2017 (Washington, DC) Presiding:
Steve Janco, Katharine E. Harmon, Stephen Wilbricht, C.S.C.

2018 (Vancouver) Presiding:
Katharine E. Harmon, Stephen Wilbricht, CSC [co-chair], Alan Hommerding [co-chair]

2019 (Denver) Presiding:
Stephen Wilbricht, C.S.C., Alan Hommerding, David Turnbloom