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LITURGICAL MINISTRIES

OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE AT THE ALTAR

Heavenly Father, grant us the grace to serve at your altar with reverence, attention, and love.

Extraordinary Ministry

In the early days of the Church, there were fewer restrictions about who distributed Holy Communion. For example, a sick person could have asked a friend to bring the sacrament. One of the early martyrs of the Church, St. Tarcisius, was killed while bringing Holy Communion to the sick as an acolyte. But by the Middle Ages, the ministry was restricted to bishops and priests. Deacons were considered the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and on some occasions they administered the Blood of Christ from the chalice. Throughout Christian history, rare circumstances existed when laypeople served as exceptional minister of Holy Communion, for example, in danger of someone’s death or in time of persecution.

The Second Vatican Council opened up the ministry of distributing Holy Communion. They also change the use of the word ‘extraordinary.’ Formerly, deacons were extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. But because deacons are ordained clergy, the Council identified deacons along with bishops and priests as ‘ordinary minsters’ of Holy Communion.

The Council permitted bishops to appoint laypeople to distribute Communion, and these were now called ‘extraordinary’ ministers. Although many of them are ‘extraordinary’ according to the common definition of someone wonderful and exceptional, the word here means ‘outside the ordinary,’ that is, they are not among those in holy orders who, by reason of Ordination, have the responsibility of providing Communion to the faithful (adapted from Guide for Extraordinary Ministers, pg. 9).

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion typically will distribute Holy Communion during one of our Parish Masses as well as, on occasion, bring Holy Communion to the sick and homebound.

If you are interested in this ministry, please contact Matt Robinson at mrobinson@sjvgladwyne.com.

 

Lectors

The proclamation of scriptures at the Eucharist dates from the time of Apostles. We also have written documents from AD 150, in which Saint Justin describes a typical gathering of Christians. He wrote: “The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits…[The rest of the ceremony follows] when the reader has finished.”

It did not take long before some ceremony with the lector began to evolve. In some places in the third and fourth centuries, a ritual action was taking place before the reading began. The bishop picked up the book and handed it to the lector. In this brief gesture, the bishop indicated the worthiness of the book and his appointment of the reader to serve as a minister for the people.

The title of lector as an “institute” lay ministry has been established by Pope Saint Paul VI following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
Today’s candidates for ordination are first installed as “instituted” lectors before they can be ordained deacons or priests. In addition to instituted lectors (who are in line for ordination), there are also lectors who are deputed. Thus, the ministry of lector has been restored to a ministry of the laity. By tradition, the function of proclaiming the readings is ministerial, not presidential (adapted from Guide for Lectors, pg. 10).

The Lector, therefore, is tasked with reading the Sacred Scriptures (First or Second Reading) during the Liturgy. A Lector may be assigned to one or two Masses a month.

If you are interested in serving in this important ministry, please contact Matt Robinson at mrobinson@sjvgladwyne.com.

 

Ushers

At the first Eucharistic celebration on Holy Thursday, our Lord sent out His trusted associates to prepare the Upper Room for the sacred celebration. Ushers are the spiritual sons and daughters of those first ones sent ahead to prepare the celebration for all of us to share in.
The ministry of the usher is the oldest lay ministry in the Catholic Church. The ushers of today have descended from a long line of people of God who have gone before them. During the time of Christ, the doorkeepers of the temple numbered in the hundreds and were the forerunners of today’s ushers.

The more recent immediate predecessor of today’s usher can be found in the clerical order of Porter, instituted in the 3rd Century AD. During those times, it was the duty of the porters or ushers to guard the door of the church against any intruders who might disturb the service. The porter duties were so important that they came to be included in the rite of ordination, where they specified as: “to ring the bells, open the church and sacristy, to open the book for the preacher.” In 1972 Pope Saint Paul VI abolished the order of the porter, and this important task was given over to the laity.

The primary duties and responsibilities of ushers today include greeting and welcoming parishioners, helping them find seats, taking up the collection, assisting with the offertory procession, assisting with communion lines, ensuring the safety of worshippers, and wishing everyone a good day at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Celebration (adapted from "Guide for Ushers and Greeters").

Ushers usually serve at whatever Mass they typically attend.

If you are interested in this ministry, please contact Matt Robinson at mrobinson@sjvgladwyne.com.

Altar Servers

Altar Servers are young boys and girls in grades five through twelve, as well as adults who assist the priest at the altar during the sacred liturgy at Sunday Mass.

If you or your child are interested in becoming an altar server, please contact Matt Robinson at mrobinson@sjvgladwyne.com.

 

Cantors

A cantor leads the congregation in the singing of hymns during the Sacred Liturgy. They are instrumental in the beautiful and sacred celebration of the Mass and other Sacramental occasions. Typically, a cantor will be scheduled to sing at 1-2 Masses per month.

If you would like to find out more about this ministry, please contact Dr. Cara Latham, Director of Sacred Music, at clatham@sjvgladwyne.com.

 

Choir

The Saint John Vianney Choir generally sings at the parish 10:30 AM Mass from September - May. The choir also typically sings at large parish celebrations such as the celebration of Sacraments. In addition, the choir performs two beautiful concerts for our parishioners during the season of Advent and Lent.

If you are interested in joining our choir, please contact Dr. Cara Latham at clatham@sjvgladwyne.com.