A significant amount of effort goes into our worship, which is at the heart of parish life. Here are some ways in which you can help.
The role of altar servers is to assist the priest during Mass and sometimes at other liturgies. It is a role open to young and old, although a young person would usually only start after making their First Holy Communion. Servers will help prepare the Sanctuary before Mass, carry out duties during Mass, and then assist with clearing up at the end.
Choir and Music
Music plays an important part in the life of many parishes, and involvement with a choir or group of singers can give meaningful expression to personal faith as well as glory to God. Instrumentalists can be a special blessing to parishes, particularly those with keyboard or guitar playing skills, as they provide support to the congregation and as part of the overall music team. Musicians are often asked to give a little time towards preparing music for Mass and may need to attend rehearsals. Some parish choirs will welcome everyone, whereas others may hold some form of audition.
Church Laundry volunteers
In the liturgy many linens are used, which will subsequently need to be washed and ironed. This can involve small items like finger towels, larger items such as altar cloths, and in some parishes the vestments servers or other ministers wear.
Extra-ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion assist the parish community by helping to distribute the Eucharistic, that is the Sacred Host or the Precious Blood. This will often be during Mass but may also be taking Holy Communion to those in the wider parish community who are housebound due to health, age or disability.
The term ‘extra-ordinary’ is used as a distinction between the ‘ordinary’ minister, a bishop, priest or deacon; they assist where there are insufficient ‘ordinary’ ministers.
Ministers should be willing to arrive at Mass in good time and to prepare readings and prayers for visits. They should be willing to share responsibility as part of a team and report any concerns back to the parish priest, including requests for the anointing of the sick.
We all appreciate a beautiful church, and flowers can enhance many celebrations, especially at important times such as a Baptism, First Holy Communion or a marriage. If you have flower-arranging skills, or would like to find out more about the possibility of learning this skill from someone else in the parish, please speak to your parish priest.
Parishes will normally have a rota of readers for Masses at the weekend. This is a good role to consider volunteering for if you have a clear voice and are prepared to spend a little time in reading preparation. Your parish priest may offer you some guidance about how to read in church, since it is often a large space and some older churches are often very resonant. Your priest may ask you to 'audition' before adding you to the parish reading rota.
Those who volunteer as Sacristans provide a valuable, although often hidden, service to the community. They help in preparations for Mass and tidying away afterwards; they work closely with, or give direction to, the Altar Servers in this regard. Additionally, they will be involved in ensuring that the stock of items needed for the liturgy, such as altar breads, wine, and candles etc. are kept at the right levels. Sometimes they will be involved in locking and unlocking the church.
Welcomers / Ushers / Stewards
As part of the parish welcome team you will be asked to arrive before the start of the Sunday Mass to greet people as they arrive, perhaps to hand out the weekly newsletter, hymn books and other items as required. You may also be asked to record how many people attend the Mass and to collect any hymn books or other items as they are handed in at the end of the service.
In this role, you may be asked to usher any latecomers to the remaining seats in the church and to ensure that the Offertory Procession is ready at the appropriate moment in the Mass. Finally, you may be asked to deal with any matters that may arise within the congregation during the Mass.
The main qualifications for this role are a friendly smile and good people skills. During the pandemic, this role had to be adjusted but was very important to help ensure the Church met its obligations in regards to the necessary restrictions.