Skip to content »

About NAAL

The North American Academy of Liturgy (NAAL) is an ecumenical and inter-religious association of liturgical scholars.  We collaborate in research concerning public worship. NAAL meets annually in early January in cities throughout the United States and Canada. The academy’s more than twenty seminars provide the locus of our work and the heart of our meetings.

Connecting scholarship and worship

The Academy's purpose is twofold:

  1. to promote liturgical scholarship among its members through opportunities for exchange of ideas, and
  2. to extend the benefits of this scholarship to the worshiping communities to which its members belong.

Gathered first in 1973

The Academy's origins date to December 1973, ten years after the promulgation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, when more than fifty American experts in liturgy met at Scottsdale, Arizona. The ecumenical gathering, sponsored by the journal Theological Studies and organized by two Jesuits, Walter Burghardt and John Gallen, met to discuss the principal opportunities, needs, and problems of liturgical renewal.

In January 1975 the academy was founded at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, when a basic agreement was reached on goals, structures, and membership qualifications. The first official meeting was held in January 1976 at Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Click here for a list of the founding members.

Growing in membership and diversity

The learned society meets annually in early January in locations throughout the United States and Canada and has grown from the original eighty-three members to over 400 members from a breadth of religious traditions.

Read about the meetings and presentations from 1973 to the present:

Annual Meeting History »

Exploring diverse topics

The academy consists of over twenty standing working groups that foster the scholarly exchange of its members on a wide variety of liturgical topics. The proceedings of the annual meeting, initially published in Worship magazine from 1976 until 1987, are printed in an in-house publication of the academy since 1988.

Developing a collaborative atmosphere

Members of the Academy exchange information within a wide spectrum of liturgical research with representation from diverse Christian churches and Jewish denominations.

The primary vehicle for such dialogue is the annual meeting, usually held in the first week in January, where members divide their time among plenary sessions on topics of contemporary concern, seminars formed around specific areas, and special sessions where members present research in progress.

Publishing collaborative work

The Proceedings of the North American Academy of Liturgy, published each summer, contain peer-reviewed papers from the annual meeting, brief seminar reports, and selected essays growing out of the collaborative research of the membership.

Recognizing significant contributions

The North American Academy presents two awards to honor individuals who have made a significant contribution to liturgical studies or the liturgical arts.

The Berakah Award has been given every year since 1976 to a member of the Academy to honor distinguished contribution to the professional work of liturgy.

The Godfrey Diekmann Award began in 2003. It is named in honor of the liturgical giant Benedictine Father Godfrey Diekmann, OSB, of Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. Fr. Diekmann was a founding member of the NAAL; he died in 2002. This Award is given occasionally to persons who have made a contribution to the liturgical life of the world; normally it is given to those who are not members of the North American Academy of Liturgy.

Berakah and Diekmann Award Recipients »

Learning and adapting

The Academy Committee undertakes a thorough annual evaluation of our meetings and the work of the Academy. One of the results of this process is change in our Policies and Procedures aimed at responding to what we are learning and creating better ways to fulfill our mission. Changes for 2017 include a streamlined process for applying for membership, a clearer description of the process for expedited membership, and a job description for our new position of Donor/Sponsor coordinator.