Carmel Bulletin, 9 August 2015
The role of the sacristan, or of the group of volunteers who attend to the work of the sacristy, is an important ministry in any parish. These ministers not only assist the priest, but support the entire assembly to participate fully, consciously and actively in liturgical celebrations.
One responsibility sacristans have is to prepare for specific liturgical times and celebrations. While music ministers will organise and rehearse music for different seasons and special occasions, the priest will prepare a homily, and other ministers will hang banners and arrange flowers, sacristans are reviewing previous practices and the requirements outlined in the liturgical books for each season and major feast.
It will mean, for example, that sacristans are attentive to the fact that the sanctuary cannot be decorated with flowers during Lent. They will often prepare a checklist for a major occasion such as the Easter Vigil Mass, remembering that it has additional requirements such as firewood, candles for the entire assembly, incense nails, and all the items for the baptismal liturgy. They will be prepared for the fact that additional seating is required in the sanctuary when the Mass will be concelebrated by several priests.
Attention to these details is essential to ensuring that there isn’t a frantic rush to organise something minutes before Mass begins, or an awkward, embarrassing “break in the program” once it is realised that something crucial is still out the back in a cupboard. With all aspects of the celebration well prepared, the entire assembly, as well as those leading them, can focus their minds and hearts more deeply on prayer and an encounter with Christ himself.