sacristan A good sacristan is a boon to any parish and, as the GIRM says, the post fulfills a true liturgical function. As the Ceremonial of Bishops states: "The adornment and decor of a church should be such as to make the church a visible sign of love and reverence toward God" (No. 38).

In order to carry out the following duties, the sacristan needs to have a fairly good idea of the content and norms of the principal liturgical books and an understanding of the intricacies of the liturgical calendar.

Men and women in good standing can serve as sacristans. To become a sacristan, contact the church office: 465-3215.

Official duties

The sacristan carefully arranges the liturgical books, the vestments, and other things necessary in the celebration of Mass. GIRM, No. 105

The sacristan, always under the general direction of the clergy, undertakes the overall preparation of liturgical celebrations, including all that is needed for special days such as Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday.  Ceremonial of Bishops, No. 37.

The sacristan thus arranges the books needed for the celebration, marking all of the divisions. He or she lays out anything else needed for the celebration, such as cruets, chalices, ciboria, linens, oils, processional crosses, candles and torches.

The sacristan in harmony with the pastor also makes sure that the vestments, church furnishings, liturgical vessels and decorative objects are kept in good condition and, if necessary, sent for gilding or repair.

Practical duties

The sacristan ensures that the things necessary for worship are always available. There should be a ready supply of fresh hosts and of duly authorized wine, sufficient clean purificators, corporals, hand towels, incense and coals.

In this context the sacristan is responsible for making sure that those who wash the altar linens do so according to the indications of the missal and that the water for the first wash is poured down the sacrarium or to the earth. The sacristan also takes care of burning old linens and other objects that are no longer suitable for liturgical use.

He or she also makes sure that the sanctuary candle has sufficient burning time and that the altar cloths are changed regularly, and that the holy water stoups are clean and replenished frequently.

The Sacristan scheduled for each individual Mass ensures that all the scheduled ministers are present and if not, finds replacements for them from the gathered assembly.

Pre-Mass Duties

  • Sign in
  • Make sure all doors are unlocked
  • Look to see who is scheduled to serve in any of the ministries and determine if replacements might be necessary
  • Check to see who is the celebrant for that Mass. This will determine which chalice will be used and also the correct liturgical color for the pall
  • Look to see if a deacon/seminarian is present, and if so, notifiy B2 that they will not need to fill that position or, if necessary, move them to another position
  • Be sure the lights are on and candles are lit to create a welcoming atmosphere for the gathered assembly
  • Check to see how many ciboria with consecrated hosts are in the Tabernacle to help determine how many additional hosts and/or ciboria may be  necessary for that Mass.
  • NOTE:  5 are necessary if the Cry Room is open for that Mass, 4 are necessary if not
  • Estimate an approximate number of hosts necessary for that Mass so that there are a minimal number of consecrated hosts left in the Tabernacle that can be used to take to the homebound
  • There should never be an over abundance of consecrated hosts left after any Mass
  • Check the Credence Table in the Sanctuary to be sure there is at least one purificator, 5 palls, cruet of fresh water, bowl, towel, 4 or 5 chalices (determined by the scheduled Mass).  Also, be sure that the presiding priest’s chalice, purificator, paten, pall and large host are properly assembled and in place.
  • Make sure the Roman Missal is visible and accessible.
  • Check to determine that the Corporal and altar cloths are clean.
  • Be sure the stand for the Book of the Gospels is in the center of the altar.
  • Check the side Credence tables to be sure each has a fresh bowl of water, a towel, 2 purificators for the table on the ambo side and 3 purificators for the table on the choir side. Both tables should have an extra towel and at least one purificator on the bottom shelf.
  • Place the ciborium with the lid, the vessel with the wine and the Offering plate on the “Gifts Table” at the back of the church
  • Put the cart in the storage room behind the Sanctuary on the ambo side of the church
  • Check to be sure the processional cross is on the stand near the hallway for the altar server
  • Be sure the Book of the Gospels is set for the current Mass and available for the Lector to carry in the procession
  • Verify that everyone has signed in for their assigned positions and make substitutions for any vacancies. If no substitutions are available, it may be necessary for you to fill that position.
  • Gather with celebrant and other ministers for prayer in the gathering space

During Mass

  • Sit in the assigned seat for Sacristan and be ready to assist in whatever way necessary.

Post Mass Duties

  • Leave lights on and candles lit until all purification of vessels has been done
  • Using cart, remove all vessels and towels from the Credence Table in Sanctuary.  Empty and dry the finger bowl and if after the 4pm or last Sunday Mass remove the cruet with water
  • Bring the Book of the Gospels to the back of the church for the next Mass
  • Empty the bowls on side Credence Tables, if necessary, and remove all soiled/wet linens/towels
  • In the Sacristan’s room, purify all the vessels placing them in their appropriate storage places unless after the 8am Mass
  • Place all soiled linens in the bag provided
  • If there is no one in the church, extinguish the candles and turn off lights
  • Make sure the side doors are locked and closed properly
  • Check restrooms to be sure they are empty and the lights are turned off.
  • Turn off all lights, be sure the side front doors are locked

Set alarm, exit church and lock the main door