Settings for Mass

We celebrate together


The most common place for Catholics to celebrate the Mass is in a church.

Churches are built in different shapes, for example, in a cross or round, but traditionally with the altar facing east towards the rising sun.

Mass is celebrated by a Priest, or on special occasions such as Confirmation, the Bishop leads the celebration of Mass. Mass may take place in other settings.

Wherever it is, the celebration will follow the same structure and include music, speech, readings from the scripture, different types of prayer, a homily and various holy ceremonies. 


A diocese is divided into geographical areas called parishes. The parish church is where most Catholics celebrate the Sunday Mass. Some parishes have more than one church, or Mass centre.


A chapel is generally associated with a specific place, like a school, college, monastery, convent, military base, hospital or similar institution. It usually looks like a small church.


The cathedral is the main church of the diocese. It is also usually the biggest church in the diocese. The word cathedral comes from cathedra which refers to the chair that the Bishop sits on.

It is usually in the cathedral that the Bishop confers the Sacrament of Holy Orders on those who are called to become Priests. The Chrism Mass – when the holy oils are blessed – is one occasion when the Bishop and all the Priests of the diocese gather to celebrate the Eucharist in the cathedral.


Mass can also be celebrated in other places, like sports halls, general purpose rooms, undercover areas or outside.

Mass can be celebrated anywhere as long as some preparation has gone into making sure that it can be a prayerful place and one where people can feel close to God.




Brainstorm with the class, the different places where you have participated in the celebration of Mass and share something special about each place. For example, ‘the Mass centre is special because it is right in the school and anytime we go past it we can remember what happened at Mass there.’


Draw your favourite place to celebrate Mass and explain why.


Search the internet for photos of people celebrating Mass in different settings and create a collage of them under the heading ‘We can celebrate Mass in different places’.


  • What are some of the different places where you have participated in the celebration of the Mass?
  • What is your favourite place for the celebration of the Mass and why?