Welcome to the Ministry of the Ushers!
Jesus said, "Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the One who sent me" (Mt. 10:40).
Your willingness to respond to your Baptismal call to serve the people of God, in the capacity of an Usher, reflects your commitment to Christ. Your willingness to arrive on time and to be a friendly, welcoming presence to those coming to worship here at Sacred Heart is a further reflection of your willingness to respond fully to your Baptismal call.
When you assure a welcoming presence, while ensuring orderly seating at all Masses offered in this Parish, you enhance the beauty of the Liturgy and become an instrument through whom God may be present to members of the assembly. "For the sake of my relatives and friends, I will say, 'Peace be with you!' For the sake of the house of our Lord, I will pray for your good." (Ps 122:8-9) and "I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of the wicked." (Ps 84:11)
Once you are commissioned to serve in the ministry, you will be issued an identifying ministry badge signifying that you are an Usher. Wear this badge humbly for it signifies that you have accepted the awesome privilege of welcoming and being for others a representative of a welcoming gracious, God!
God bless your efforts!
- A practicing Catholic of faith and prayer
- Enthusiasm for welcoming and greeting all people
- A person who is responsible and takes this ministry very seriously
- A person who has the gift of hospitality, service, evangelization or mercy
- The Ministry of Ushers has assisted parish worship for generations since long before the 2nd Vatican Council. In light of the liturgical reforms of the 2nd Vatican Council, much attention was focused on new liturgical roles by the laity and Ushers were often ignored when it came to outlining new expectations of the Usher role.
- At Sacred Heart, at every regularly scheduled Weekend Mass and at Masses offered during the Christmas and Easter Season, the Ministry of Ushers is an important and valued ministry.
- The role of the Usher is one of offering a friendly welcoming presence to those coming to worship, providing assistance in securing seating for latecomers, providing assistance in emergencies, providing assistance in taking up the collection, providing assistance at the time of the presentation of the gifts and at Communion, providing assistance in the dissemination of the parish bulletin and participating in the clean-up of the church after the completion of Mass.
- The presence of an Usher, for every scheduled week-end Mass, at the entrance to the doors of the church (at least 4 Ushers for each Mass) is a goal here at Sacred Heart.
- Special services, such as Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, require participation by the Ushers in the planning and practicing of these liturgical celebrations, which will be scheduled with sufficient notice to all Ushers.
- On the day you are assigned to serve as an Usher, it is appropriate and a good practice to develop the habit of taking time to prepare for your service with quiet prayer and if possible, a reflective reading of Scripture.
- Your respect for your ministry should be reflected in your appearance, by being clean and well groomed and in your attire; appropriate attire includes: suit and tie or clean, nicely creased trousers with shirt and tie, or, shirt and nice sweater; for women: pants suit or skirt and blouse or slacks and blouse...please note; no shorts at any time!
- Committing oneself to ongoing faith and ministry formation is essential in being an effective minister, regardless of the ministry. Attend workshops, classes, retreats, and small Christian communities to help you grow in your own faith.
Responsibilities Before Mass
- Plan on arriving in a timely manner for the Mass at which you are scheduled to serve, according to the dictates of the particular Mass for which you are Ushering.
- Wear your Usher Badge so that it is visible to all those coming to worship.
- Check the thermostat in the church and the chapel to make sure that it is set at a comfortable temperature. Open windows if need be. During the summer, it is important to keep the doors of the sanctuary and the doors to the church closed as much as possible. Propping the doors open sucks all the cool air outside.
- It is always a good practice to check in with the celebrant/deacon to find out if there are any special rites (Baptism, Marriage blessings, RCIA Rites, etc) taking place during the Mass, or if there will be any special handouts or instructions for that particular Mass.
- Find different members of the assembly each week at each Mass to bring the gifts to the altar.
- Because the gift bearers represent all those in the assembly gathered at that celebration, those asked to participate in the presentation of the gifts should reflect the diversity of the assembly.
- Once you have identified the gift bearers, they should be told to come to the rear of the Church when the collection begins, so that they will be ready to come forward with the gifts at the appropriate time. They should be instructed on the process, when necessary, in bringing the gifts (bread, wine, prayer requests, collection, etc.) to the altar. The gifts are to be given to the priest or deacon standing to receive them. After the gifts have been received, the gift bearers bow to the priest/deacon and return to their seats.
- The folding doors between the Sanctuary and the Day Chapel may need to be opened. There are special instructions posted in the Sacristy on opening and closing the folding doors that need to be followed closely.
Responsibilities During Mass
- Once Mass begins, conversation unrelated to the action of the Mass should be discontinued. Your full participation in the Mass is expected so that you are joining in the singing, listening attentively to the Word of God, extending a Peace greeting and showing by your entire demeanor that you are fully engaged in the Mass at which you are present. It is understood that there will be times when it is necessary for you to interact with members of the assembly arriving late. This interaction should be short and pleasant.
- It is important that you know the appropriate time to seat latecomers so you can communicate this to those arriving late. Liturgical guidelines indicate that latecomers are not to be seated during the opening prayer, while the Word of God is being proclaimed, during the Homily or the Prayers of the Faithful. Please ask people to remain quietly at the rear of the Church until an acceptable time to be seated occurs; e.g., during the Psalm response, or after the homily.
- Remember to always treat those who are late with reverence and respect; it is not your place to judge, but to be of service!
- Occasionally ushers will be asked to help with special distributions at Mass, i.e. passing out palms, distributing gifts to visitors, sign-up sheets for ministries, etc. They may also be asked to assist with special liturgical events, such as the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday.
- The offerings of the assembly are collected by two (2) Ushers in the middle aisle and one (1) Usher in each side aisle using collections baskets. It is important to remember that this is part of the act of worship and therefore should be completed with dignity and respect, not only in action but in dress!
- The collection baskets are combined into one basket. That basket is then carried up and presented as one of the gifts at the Offertory and placed in front of the altar. During communion, one of the Ushers picks up the basket and carries it back to the Sacristy where the contents are placed in a zippered money bag, locked and placed in the parish safe.
- Ushers assist with good order at Communion time. At Sacred Heart, communicants go out row by row from the front. On occasion and at certain Masses in particular, there may be those who need assistance in going up to Communion. Please ask them if they would like assistance or if they want Communion brought to them. It is your responsibility to be sure to let a Eucharistic Minister know that Communion may have to be brought to someone in the rear of the Church.
- When the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist begin to receive Communion. Ushers stand by the 1st row until it is time to have the faithful move forward to receive. You should go row by row to the rear of the church. Remember, your role is to be of service to the assembly at this time, so you should be offering gentle guidance and not acting as a drill sergeant!
- In keeping with full participation in the Mass, it is appropriate to join in the Communion song while it is being sung.
Responsibilities After Mass
- Ushers should be careful to not signal it is OK to leave the celebration early by opening the doors and standing ready to hand out bulletins before the Celebrant is even off the altar and beginning the recessional. Again, if people do leave early, it is not up to us to stand in judgment of those who do.
- Once the Celebrant has left the altar, Ushers should go to their respective “posts” and stand ready, with a warm smile, to distribute the parish bulletin and say goodbye to those who came to worship.
- Once the assembly has left the celebration, the worship space needs to be cleaned up. You should assist in straightening up the pew areas by putting the hymnals back in the appropriate location, picking up what may be left behind in the pews and returning any stray bulletins to the appropriate locations at the doors.
Disruptions / Emergencies
- Ushers should continually scan the congregation before, during and after Mass for people needing assistance - water, fresh air, a phone call, etc.; for anyone causing a disturbance; and for possible needs of the celebrant during Mass. Families with small children need to be welcomed and encouraged. Sometimes it might become necessary to help or to find someone to help a family having difficulty.
- It is important to remember, no matter the nature of the disruption or the emergency, that the role of the Usher is to bring about good order and to be the presence of Christ to the worshiping community and to see the presence of Christ in those members of the assembly who have come to worship.
- You may be faced with situations where a member of the assembly becomes disruptive. You are encouraged to try to handle any disruptive problem with gentle firmness that focuses on the right of the assembly to worship without undue distraction. A positive approach to a problem yields more fruit than a nasty negative exchange. Again, as an Usher, you are there to serve the assembly, not to judge and you are asked to be a source of calmness and competence during difficult situations.
- Medical emergencies can occur and it is always better to err on the side of caution. Calls to 911 should be made from the phone in the sacristy. Again, you want to try to be as calm as possible and cause as little distraction as possible to the members of the assembly.
- A written plan to handle various types of emergencies, including fire and medical, is to be developed. Each Usher will have the plan made available to him/her and the plan will be posted in appropriate areas of the Church, e.g., the Bulletin Board, and in the sacristies. Each Usher will also be trained, as appropriate, in all aspects of the plan, so that you are comfortable with the execution of any plan to address emergencies during a Mass or service at the parish.
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy
(2nd Vatican Council Document).
General Instruction on the Roman Missal
Guide for Ushers & Greeters
Liturgy Training Publications, 1997.
The Joy of Ushers and Hospitality Ministers
Gretchen Hailer, RHSM, Resurrection Press, Catholic Book Publishing Co., 2000.