What does a priest do for Mass Intentions?


I am trying to understand what goes on behind the scenes when a mass is offered for someone. I go to the rectory, turn in the form with the person’s name on it & pay, then I see the name printed in the bulletin for the date I gave.

Does anybody know what if anything is done with that list by the priest? For example is he given a list by the church secretary and does he pray over those names before Mass? Or is it something he says silently to himself during Mass?


Essentially, the priest is offering that particular Mass for that intention (living or deceased).

It’s not always mentioned out loud.

In Eucharistic Prayer I, the Roman Canon, there are 2 places where the priest whispers the Mass intention (one for the living, one for the deceased). In Eucharistic Prayers II and III there is an optional addition to mention the deceased by name.

Sometimes the intention is mentioned in the petitions, sometimes it’s announced before the Mass begins.

The mechanics of announcing the intention out loud vary, but regardless of how that’s done, the point is that the priest offers that Mass for that intention.


FrDavid96 answered correctly. My wife the parish secretary, records the intention in the book, gives a card to the petitioner. The Mass intention is published in the bulletin. The intentions are announced at the start of the Mass.

Someday I hope we do away with having to announce the intentions as it is more for the benefit or pride of the petitioners. As one pastor told me, God honors the intention of the heart–publicizing it in the bulletin or calling it out at Mass-start is unnecessary.



At our parish a small slip of paper with the daily names or intentions are where the priest can be readily reminded. (his desk, the vesting sacristy, the working sacristy, etc.)
Most people request a “private intention” at our parish. But when we see the name of a family known to us, we have a chance to offer prayers, condolences, or offer help in some way. People do take comfort in their parish family caring.


I just have to comment as someone who has been the recipient of what you suggested, moving away from announcing them. I had planned on a Mass said for a young man who committed suicide. The Mass was for his soul but also for my son who was friend’s with him. I also planned on inviting his parents to the Mass. Guess what? Fr and the sec took the same attitude as you are suggesting.
We were never informed and would not be informed nor did he have to tell us!
I went elsewhere to enroll the man and gave the card to the parent as what I experienced was so uncalled for I didn’t think an answer was deserved, nor comment.
When we know the intentions of the Mass, it helps us to make a special effort to go to one.
I think this may be why some my age never have masses said for their deceased loved ones also. I wonder how many tried and failed - or were given the same rebuff?


In our parish it is normally impossible for all requested Mass intentions to be included in a parish Mass. There are only so many Masses in a week. But Mass intention requests are not turned away. Those which cannot be included at the parish are sent to the missions. Of course, you then don’t know what priest will say the Mass or when, but every Mass intention is honored. It is really not necessary to announce them.


Our Mass intentions are booked almost a year out. People always want to walk in and ask for Sunday’s Mass on Thursday afternoon.
People forget that Masses said for the LIVING are the most efficacious. :slight_smile:
When kids ask me what they should get their parents for Mother’s Day or Father’s day, I always suggest a Mass. Brings the family together in a really nice way too.


i dont want to derail this conversation but what exactly does it mean to have a mass said for your intentions?


You can give a stipend to the priest to offer Mass for a loved one, living or dead, or an intention, such as healing, employment, repair of a family that is in pain, etc.
The money is the priest’s personal money. Some give it to the church, but most that I have known use it for things their salary doesn’t cover. Like savings, or put towards their retirement. There’s generally no set donation amount. Once I asked for a Mass for the Sister of Charity that taught me to play the piano. Sister Winifred. The Monsignor said “it’s on me! I’m glad to hear a nice nun story for a change! Glad you loved her!”


First, all Masses are really for all the intentions of the entire Church—the whole Church, the whole Communion of Saints in heaven and on earth.

With that in mind, though, a particular Mass can be offered for a particular intention of someone living or deceased. Think of it as that particular Mass being “dedicated” to the intention or that the intention is prayed-for in a special way at that Mass.

It’s not a way of honoring a person, but praying for the person in a special way.

Make sense now?


Thank you everyone. :heart: I am learning so much.


My parish is small so the priest always announces before Mass the Mass intention.


Announcing the petition, especially for someone who is ill or deceased, not only encourages others to pray for said person, but it also lets those of the parish know the status of a certain parishioner they might not have heard from in a while. In my experience, my family was shocked to learn that a certain parishioner our family knew and loved was deceased. If it wasn’t for the petition announcement, we would have never know that person was deceased, nor would we have prayed for the repose of the soul of said person.


True and well said. Here, though, you almost have to send in UN peacekeeping forces if the Mass intention is not published or announced. The most uncharitable attitudes and words await the secretary when she reports to work on Monday. I’ve heard such things personally and it makes me wonder if the Mass intention was really for the petitioner than for the deceased.



When there is a mass intention, it is the PRIEST’s intention, not everyone who is attending the mass. Anyone who attends the mass can make their own prayers as an offering.


I believe this is why in most parishes it is not permitted to also say "“at the request of the So and so Family”

The person’s name, and nothing else. No “father of Jimmy Jo Bob at the request of Peggy Sue Tammy”


Mass Intentions are meant to be included in the Canon. It’s one of the many reasons why I prefer EPI over the others.


I didn’t realize that Mass Intentions were sometimes not spoken, or that it might be better to not say it aloud :confused:

I focus on the moment during our prayers and petitions when the priest says, “For Joe Smith, for whom this Mass is being offered” R “we pray to the Lord.” It would just not be the same without that. The whole congregation consciously praying for your deceased loved one? How wonderful.


The place in the Roman Canon where the name of the deceased is mentioned, and the corresponding attachments to Eucharistic Prayers II and III, are meant to be used only at a funeral Mass. If a regular Mass is offered for the repose of John Doe’s soul, it is not necessary to mention Mr. Doe’s name at all during the Mass, because the priest knows in his mind the intention of that Mass. He may mention Mr. Doe’s name before Mass begins or during the intercessions, but it is not required.

In the Roman Canon, the names of the living may be mentioned during a specific liturgy such as a wedding or anniversary Mass or a Mass offered for someone’s healing, but at a regular Mass the names are not mentioned.


Actually, the additions to Eucharistic Prayers II and III can be added at any Mass, not just funeral Masses.

They are not required, but are still optional, so you’re right to say “it’s not necessary.”

The rubrics are a bit vague on this, but Rome did clarify.

For the actual notitiae as a PDF image see here

Unofficial translation
Query: When may the special formulary for the dead be used in Eucharistic Prayers II and III?

Reply: The source of this query is the phrasing of the rubric for Eucharistic Prayer III: “When this prayer is used in “Masses for the dead. . .”” (See “Preces eucharisticae et praefationes,” Vatican Polyglot Press, 1967, p. 35). This rubric has been clarified in the new Order of Mass (GIRM no. 322b): "When Mass is celebrated “for any dead person …” Thus the special embolism for the deceased may be used in any Mass that is celebrated for a dead person or in which a dead person receives special remembrance. The purpose of the law is to facilitate the carrying out of the GIRM no. 316 on restraint in using the Masses for the dead. Not 5 (1969) 325, no. 4.

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