“Ask a Priest: Could We Do a Mass Without a Priest?”

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Q: Can Catholics hold Mass without a priest present? For context, I and my friends want to hold some sort of reciting of Mass during our hourlong lunch break at our high school. We don’t want it to seem mocking or anything, and we don’t want to do anything we aren’t allowed to do as Catholics. Is that OK, and if it’s not, are there any alternatives to holding a Mass? – M.D.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s great that you want to pray with your friends during your lunch hour.

But no, a Mass cannot be celebrated without a priest. Without a priest (or bishop), there can be no consecration of the bread and wine — no Eucharistic sacrifice — and thus no Mass.

What you might want to do is pray the rosary together, perhaps with a short reading from the Gospels before or afterward. You might also consider doing a Gospel reflection, using the passage from the Mass of that day.

You could even pray part of the Liturgy of the Hours together. It’s also known as the breviary or Divine Office. There are apps that allow you to download it. A priest or deacon or someone else could show you how to pray it.

You might consider remembering your classmates in your prayers, and to look for little ways to evangelize them day by day.

I hope this helps.


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