There are different gifts but the same Spirit; there are different ministries but the same Lord; there are different works but the same God who accomplishes all of them in everyone. To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7
The flourishing of the liturgical ministries of the Church has been one of the visible fruits of the Second Vatican Council. All ministries have their root in Baptism and in the Sacrament of Holy Orders (See Holy Orders); in appointing lay ministers the parish priest delegates a share in his liturgical responsibility to the lay faithful, as an exercise of the common priesthood of the people in an extraordinary way.
Lay ministers foster the mission of Christ that flows from baptism and put their gifts at the disposal of the community for the common good and in response to specific needs. Since the Second Vatican Council many new liturgical opportunities have emerged for lay men and women in the Church.
Liturgical ministers serve in various capacities to facilitate the prayerful dignity and ‘noble simplicity’ of the liturgical celebration. Whether participation is through “behind the scenes” preparation and planning or a public role of service within the Mass, parishioner contributions help our liturgies to be truly life-giving celebrations.
Altar Servers assist the priest and the entire worshipping community during the Sacrifice of the Mass and other liturgical celebrations. At St Patrick’s we have a dedicated team of women, men, boys and girls who assist our prayer and worship.
We are linked with the Archconfraternity of St Stephen (Guild of St Stephen) to encourage the highest standards of serving the Church’s liturgy and contribute to the whole community’s participation in a more fruitful worship of God.
The Guild also aims to provide altar servers with a greater understanding of what they are doing so that they may serve with increasing reverence and prayerfulness and thereby be led to a deepening response to their vocation in life.
Who can become an Altar Server?
Any Catholic who has made their First Holy Communion is able to join our Altar Serving team. Adults who wish to join will need to undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance. If you would like to become a server, just have a word with the Parish Priest or Sacristans.
Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC), assist the priest (and deacon) in distributing the Body and the Blood of Christ at Mass; to the sick at home and in the hospitals; and to the housebound.
Whether at Mass or in other special situations, the EMHC enables the recipient to share the Communion of the entire Body of Christ i.e. the Church, and share in the effects of the abiding Communion of love of the Triune God i.e. the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
They are termed “Extraordinary Ministers” to distinguish them from the Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (bishops, priests and deacons). They are invited to serve in this ministry at the invitation of the parish priest and with the approval of the Bishop.
General Principles of Ministry at Holy Communion.
In every celebration of the Eucharist, there should be a sufficient number of ministers of Holy Communion, so that it may be distributed in a reverent and orderly manner. Bishops, priests and deacons distribute Holy Communion in virtue of their office as ordinary ministers of the Body and Blood of the Lord.
When the size of the congregation or the incapacity of the bishop, priest, or deacon requires it, the celebrant may be assisted by other bishops, priests, or deacons. If such ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are not present, “the priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, i.e., duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been deputed for this purpose. In case of necessity, the priest may also depute suitable faithful for this single occasion (General Instruction of the Roman Missal n.162).”
Registering interest in this ministry
Anyone interested in helping with the distribution of the Body and Blood of Christ should contact the parish priest. Adults who are ministering Holy Communion to the sick and housebound will need to undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance.
Readers – Proclaimers of the Word of God
“Christ is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church”
(Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, n.7)
The Second Vatican Council teaches that in proclaiming the word of God, readers exercise their responsibility by mediating the presence of Christ.
God speaks to the assembly through them; the reader has responsibility for not just simply reading the word, they are vehicles of God’s presence, proclaimers of the word. Readers are called to deepen their knowledge and understanding of Sacred Scripture to perform their ministry with sincere, genuine humility and service to both God and the people to whom he chooses to reveal himself.
Who may become a Reader?
“The faithful should not refuse to serve gladly the people of God whenever asked to perform some particular ministry or role in the celebration.”
(General Instruction of the Roman Missal n.97)
Our Churches welcome readers from all sections of our parish, both young and old, male and female, married and single, able and disabled.
Adult Readers should be baptised, have made First Holy Communion and Confirmation, be regularly participating in the life of and be in good standing within the parish.
Young People are especially welcome to take part in the ministry of Reader and are encouraged to do so particularly after they have been confirmed.
If you are interested in serving the community in this way, please speak to the Parish Priest. Training is available for those who would like to undertake this ministry and ongoing formation sessions are held regularly for existing Readers. Come and be a proclaimer of God’s word!
Ministry of Hospitality & Welcome
Greeters welcome people to church at the door, paying special attention to anyone new or visiting. Greeters help people to feel welcome, assisting with the distribution of hymn books and liturgy booklets and responding to any needs arising.
Ushers assist in seating when needed and receive the Offertory collection. The ministry continues after the celebration of Mass, facilitating the social gathering in the hall and serving refreshments.
Liturgical Art and Environment
Liturgical Art and Environment ministers assist in design, setup and take down of decorations and/or care of flowers or plants in the worship area. Artists, interior decorators, flower arrangers, cleaners, carpenters, designers, or graphic artists would fit this ministry perfectly! Time commitment varies with each liturgical season and volunteers are called upon as needed.
Singers, Cantors & Instrumentalists
Singers, cantors and instrumentalists lead the musical prayer at our weekend and holyday liturgies. ‘He who sings, prays twice’, said St Augustine.
Anyone who enjoys singing or playing an instrument is warmly invited to come along to the rehearsals. (See Liturgical Music)
Sacristans help with the preparation and putting away of the sacred vessels, linens and ritual books needed for the celebration of the liturgy. They coordinate the purchase of altar supplies, care of the vestments and the laundering of altar linen. This is a ‘behind the scenes’ ministry, but a ministry that is so important to the smooth running of our worship.
Ministry of the Gathered Assembly – Liturgical Participation
Listing all these specialised roles might give the impression that those who are not exercising one of these roles, passively attend the liturgy and simply let the liturgy happen around them.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Those who come together to celebrate the sacred liturgy do not have the luxury of acting as spectators, waiting for all to be done for them. “Full, conscious, and active participation” in the Liturgy (as commended by the Second Vatican Council) is not only their right but also their duty and their responsibility.
All of us, enter that movement of self-offering of Christ to the Father, raising our hearts and minds to the Lord in communal prayer and song. We are the body of Christ and recognise the presence of Christ among us ‘when two or three are gathered’ in his name.