Ministry of Ushers/Ministry of Hospitality
People experience the presence of Jesus Christ in the world through the ministry of the church. The first task of the parish community is to reach out to all people in Christian love and service. Christian hospitality draws people together, opens them to participation, and sets the tone for the liturgy. Every Christian is called to ministry and gifted by the Holy Spirit. This calling is rooted in our baptism. By means of our initiation into the Church and strengthened by grace, God empowers each person with the resources for ministry.
The Usher/Minister of Hospitality is equipped for this ministry by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts make that ministry effective and enable the minister to build up the Body of Christ. In their welcome and Christ-like attitude, ministers of hospitality ensure that the faithful see and experience the love of Christ.
The ministry of hospitality is crucial because it is so visible in the Church. Certainly the attitude, conduct and even the appearance of the minister of hospitality directly affects, either positively or negatively, the experience of the faithful at Mass.
Those who desire to serve as ministers of hospitality should be active and faithful members of the Church. They should be of godly character and reputation. Respect for others, discretion and appropriate decorum are the hallmarks of a minister of hospitality. Above all, ministers should be noted for their care to the assembly. These qualities are found in a mature Christian – qualities that transcend chronological age.
Furthermore, the minister should be comfortable meeting and greeting others. They must always extend a sense of welcome to others and make them feel at home. Such qualities are a blessing, especially to the stranger in our midst.
The proper place for seating of ministers of hospitality is within the assembly. Always attentive to the needs of the faithful, they should sit in those places that would enable them to best exercise their ministerial role, i.e., near the doors, throughout the church, etc.
Procedures Before the Liturgy
Greet and welcome the faithful as they gather for worship. Ushers should be at each (all) of the entrances of the church. They should avoid congregating in only one area of the church, as well as speaking with their fellow ministers to the exclusion of those who are gathering for the liturgy.
Assist with the seating of the assembly before the liturgy begins and accommodate those requiring special seating such as the handicapped and those who will be seated in reserved sections for special events. It is your responsibility to know what is happening at all Masses especially if they are out of the ordinary.
Appoint and, if necessary, assist those who will be taking up the gifts in the procession for the Preparation of the Gifts. Ushers should not bring up the gifts. Members of the assembly are to be asked in advance to bring up the gifts. Be sure to check with the office to see if those who requested the Mass would like to carry up the gifts.
“The Church encourages the faithful to bring forward the elements through which Christ’s offering will be made present, together with money and other gifts for the sustenance of Christ’s body, especially the poor and the needy.” (Introduction to the Order of the Mass 101)
Be aware of the placement of first aid supplies and an emergency telephone if the need should arise.
Procedures During the Liturgy
Ushers are part of the worshipping community. As such, they are to participate fully in the music, responses, and prayers of the liturgy. At times, however, the special duties of the minister may limit his or her ability to participate. Yet, every effort should be made by the ministers of hospitality to be models of participation in the worship of the Church.
During the liturgy, ushers should assist with the following:
The seating of latecomers with as much haste and as little disturbance as possible:
- Once the entrance procession has completed and the Presider greets the assembly, make sure the doors are closed between the gathering space and the body of the church. It is appropriate that at least one usher stay in the gathering space during this time to inform people that are waiting for the proper time for them to enter the body of the church.
- During the Liturgy of the Word, to show respect for the Word of God among us, the following are the only appropriate times to allow people to find seats:
- Between the 1st reading and the Psalm,
- Between the Psalm and the 2nd reading,
- Following the 2nd reading, and
- Following the reading of the Gospel, before the homily begins
Collect the offerings of the people. Both the faithful and the offerings are to be treated with utmost dignity and reverence. The faithful should be given adequate time to deposit their gifts during the collection.
“The gifts of bread, wine and money are carried forward by members of the congregation. The congregation’s identification with the gifts is best expressed if the procession passes right through their midst. The gifts are accepted by the priest, who may be assisted by the deacon and other ministers. The collection of money and other gifts is deposited near the altar or in another suitable place. The priest places only the Sacred Vessels containing the bread and wine on the altar.” (Introduction to the Order of the Mass 105.3)
The altar server will go to the back of the church carrying the cross as soon as the Prayers of the Faithful have been proclaimed. Those who will process with the gifts (bread, wine, and a sampling of the offering) will come forward at that time. As the gifts are brought forward the offerings of the assembly will be collected by passing the baskets along the pews from the side aisles and the celebrant will begin with the Preparation of the Gifts.
If there is a second collection it will immediately follow the first.
Once the offerings are collected, the ushers will bring them forward and place them on the step in front of the altar.
Ushers will direct the communion procession in an orderly manner starting with the front rows and continuing to the back. Do not remain at the front pew as people process up. This is a distraction for those who are preparing themselves to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Also, to respect the prayerful preparation of the communicant, please do not greet them or engage them in conversation at this time.
Procedures Following the Conclusion of the Liturgy
Following the dismissal, when the Presider leaves the sanctuary area, one usher should take up the collection basket(s) and take them to the designated room.
Ushers should open the doors to the gathering space so that the procession can easily leave the body of the church but not until the procession is almost to the doors. This will discourage people leaving before the priest.
The front doors should be opened with stops but the side doors should not be propped open.
Ushers should be stationed at all exit doors (except chapel) to hand out bulletins as people leave the church.
They should also be available to assist those with special needs.
Finally, ushers assist in preparing the worship space for the next liturgy, making sure it is well organized and inviting, placing hymnals and missals in the pew book racks.