Holy Thursday & Easter Vigil


Is it permissible for a parish to have two Holy Thursday Masses and two Easter Vigils?


Generally, no.

If a parish has 2 church buildings (as many do today) then each building can have its own Mass of the Lords Supper and Easter Vigil.

As a general rule, because these Masses are so important, there should only be one in each parish church.

There can be exceptions made out of necessity, but not for trivial or casual reasons.

The Church recognizes some exceptions to the general rule about 1 of each Mass.

  1. It is fitting that small religious communities, both clerical and lay, and other lay groups should participate in the celebration of the Easter Triduum in neighboring principal churches.

Similarly, where the number of participants and ministers is so small that the celebrations of the Easter Triduum cannot be carried out with the requisite solemnity, such groups of the faithful should assemble in a larger church.

Also, where there are small parishes with only one priest, it is recommended that such parishes should assemble, as far as possible, in a principal church and participate in the celebration there.

On account of the needs of the faithful, where a pastor has the responsibility for two or more parishes in which the faithful assemble in large numbers, and where the celebration can be carried out with the requisite care and solemnity, the celebrations of the Easter Triduum may be repeated in accord with the given norms.



St. Anthony’s in Calgary has two of each Triduum celebration: one for the Ordinary Form and one for the Extraordinary Form.


In our particular parish, we are both English and Spanish speaking. Our Parochial Administrator wishes to have separate Mass for each community rather than one bilingual Mass for Holy Thursday and Easter Vigil. We have no associate priests. We only have one Catechumen this year and that person is English speaking. We only have one sanctuary, there are no side chapels. I am on the staff and we are concerned with the liturgical correctness of this proposal.


I would send this question to your bishop’s office for liturgy, so the specifics of the needs of your parish can be taken into consideration–this is, after all, why the office typically exists. Besides, you may not be the only parish with this concern. It is early enough for the bishop to investigate the needs and come up with the solution or solutions he wants in place for the diocese as a whole.


A reasonable solution and I thank you. However some diocese permit liturgical abuses.


The norms of the Church allow for more than one Easter Vigil (or for that matter, any of the rites of the Triduum) to be repeated. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is not the ideal situation—the Church certainly prefers that there be only one of each celebration (and for many good reasons). The fact that the Church specifically suggests that smaller parishes combine for these services, which is the exact opposite of a single parish splitting into more than one celebration, makes it clear that repeating the rites is not to be done without a very serious reason.

Personally, I can understand that language might be such a reason. I can see the value of each community (English and Spanish) have the benefit of the Mass in its own tongue. I can see it as a possibility—which is not the same as suggesting it.

I would caution against trying to “appeal” this to the diocese. Unless the priest is actually violating the liturgical laws of the Church going over him to the diocese can have longterm negative effects and can cause a great deal of harm.

On the other hand, what I would suggest is that you make the administrator conscious of the logistics involved in trying to repeat the celebrations. We all know that the Easter Vigil takes a lot of time and is quite exhausting on the celebrant (ok, celebrants know this, others might not). There are also quite a lot of other issues that make doing this a major undertaking indeed. The simple fact that after the first Easter Vigil, everything in the building has to be returned to the “Holy Saturday” state makes things difficult. You can ask him things like “what about Pascal candle? Are you going to bless two of them, or will you repeat the blessing over the first one?” What about the schedule? How can you have the first Vigil after sunset, reset the church, then have the second Vigil when there are only so many hours we can deal with? “Father, do you really want to spend 5 + hours doing 2 Easter Vigil Masses?” Even if you start at 8 PM, there’s little chance of being finished before 1 AM. It might be that the priest simply has not realized all the difficulties involved in having 2 Easter Vigil Masses.


This is a very good clarification, because by “you” I did not mean this one individual. I meant that the liturgy committee as a whole would suggest that the pastor investigate the issue with the diocese, because “need” does depend on the larger context. For instance, the bishop might see the need that there be a Spanish-language Easter Vigil, but based on the numbers he may want to have a limited number of them. There are any number of ways he might want to handle it, but he probably would like to consider how to offer a solution that best fits the diocese as a whole, rather than each parish sort of cobbling something out on an ad lib basis.


No, things don’t work that way.

A bishop appoints a pastor (or administrator) and that priest determines his parish schedule.

The priest knows what he’s doing. That’s why he spent all that time in seminary.

He knows that the liturgy office is there if he needs them. He knows that every year, the liturgy office sends out communications on what to do at the Easter Vigil.

Diocesan liturgy offices are not there to interfere with the parish Mass schedules.


I thought the Triduum had to be in the OF only unless the parish was a personal parish erected for use of the EF.


Not quite. I was thinking the same thing as I read this thread, so I went back to the norms for Summorum Pontificum…

A priest can celebrate a private Mass in the Extraordinary Form, on almost any day, however excluding the Easter Triduum.
The Triduum only excludes a private Mass in the EF. A celebration with a congregation is permitted.

The Sacred Triduum

  1. If there is a qualified priest, a coetus fidelium (“group of faithful”), which follows the older liturgical tradition, can also celebrate the Sacred Triduum in the forma extraordinaria. When there is no church or oratory designated exclusively for such celebrations, the parish priest or Ordinary, in agreement with the qualified priest, should find some arrangement favourable to the good of souls, not excluding the possibility of a repetition of the celebration of the Sacred Triduum in the same church.


Thank you. Not that I have to be concerned about it, I’d have to drive 1000 miles to find an EF Mass.


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