The ordained priest serves the People of God by a special Ministry:
he alone has the right and duty to preside at the Eucharist: he
alone has power to change the Bread and Wine into the Body and
Blood of Christ: he alone has the power to administer most of
the Sacraments: But when God's People are gathered together for
Mass, or Sacraments, or any other kind of worship, the priest
is not the only one with a job to do. Apart from any other consideration.
the priest cannot do it all, and when he tries to, it detracts
from the dignity of the liturgy.
So there are other Ministers, members of the People of God who
serve the whole People of God in a particular way. Some are specially
commissioned to give Holy Communion, either in Church or to the
sick in their homes. Some are Ministers of the Word of God, the
Readers. Altar Servers are Ministers: they may think they serve
the priest: in fact they serve the People of God by ensuring the
smooth and dignified running of all our celebrations.
are Ministers too. Their job is to make the People
of God welcome and in general ensure that everything in the
body of the church is as it should be
It is a Lay Liturgical Ministry:
Lay: in the sense that is open to any man or woman who belongs
to God's People by Baptism.
Liturgical: because it is part of the public
worship of the Church.
Ministry: because it is a service to the People
of God: a service which in the past was dignified by a clerical
Perhaps the simplest way to think about a Lay Ministry is as
a job in its on right. It is not a wee favour
to the priest. It becomes your job. your responsibility.
It becomes your way of taking part in the liturgy.
||Three further points:
1. It is a service, not an honour or a
reward. It is important to stress this! When we
ask you to do this work, we are not saying to you or to
anybody that you are the perfect Catholic. Maybe you are,
but it is dangerous to make such claims. We are not putting
you in the firing line, to be shot down by criticism. All
we are saying is that we feel we can trust you to do the
job well, and we hope you will be willing to accept the
2. It would not be
right to call for volunteers, because it is service
to the Community. Pass-keepers should be positively
chosen for the job. A community which depends exclusively
on volunteers for a ministry (any ministry), is publicly
stating that it doesn't care who does the job.
It is a Ministry that can in many cases be shared
by the whole family. We are not looking for volunteers,
and every family situation is different, so the call has
to be to an individual. But when others in the family are
suitable and willing, you can draw them into your ministry
especially by asking them to keep an eye open in your area
of the parish, or to act as your substitute when you cannot
make it to a particular Mass yourself. Husbands and wives
certainly can share the ministry; older brothers and sisters
who live in the same household; and younger members of the
family too. But we must fix a minimum age: say, sixteen,
the age when they can leave school and get a job, and be
Sponsors at Baptism and Confirma
General qualities required in Pass-keepers:
A. BEFORE MASS
1. A sense of Liturgy.
2. A sense of Community.
A SENSE OF LITURGY
The word Liturgy means work of the people: in this case the
work is Worship, the people are God's People gathered together.
So a sense of Liturgy and a sense of Community are not two separate
things. A sense of Liturgy is a sense of belonging to the Community
at worship, and understanding what the People are doing as they
worship God together.
Pass-keepers have been known to give the impression [not in
this parish) that they are a class apart: they don't quite belong
to the congregation. They are like ushers in a Cinema who have
seen the film a hundred times before. They hang around until
they are needed, spring into action for a few minutes and then
slip back into their lethargy.
This is not the way it should be:
the whole People, including the Pass-keepers, worship God, the
whole People offer the Mass, celebrate the Eucharist.
The Pass-keepers give and receive with the rest of the community.
But it is more than joining in with them; as Pass-keepers, you
make it possible for them to join in. Your Ministry
is to enable all the People to play their full part
in the liturgy: everything to do with the comfort and
needs of the congregation is the concern of the Pass-keepers.
It is your Ministry to provide for these needs.
To be able to do this, you need some knowledge and understanding
of the structure of the Mass. A Missal can be instructive there,
though you may need some help to get started using it. There
are other books and pamphlets to read. Study groups or discussion
groups can be useful. You've got to know what is happening.
You must be sensitive to the rhythm of the Mass: aware of the
quiet moments, the intense moments, the momentary breaks when
one part is finished and the next not quite started, the times
you can move to do something. the times when everything should
be perfectly still. You need a sense of occasion: dignity always,
solemnity when required.
THE MINISTRY OF PASS-KEEPING IN SAINT DOMINIC'S TORRANCE:
1. The Pass-keepers
should be instantly recognisable, so, when you are on duty, always
wear your badge of office.2. It is your job as
Pass-keeper's to see that everything is ready for the
People of God.
a. Arrive in plenty
of time to spend a few moments in prayer, be-fore checking everything.
b. Prepare the baskets [keep them under the table].
c. Check that the hymn-books are out. If not.
(and if they are going to be used] put them out or be ready to
give them to the People as they come in.
Make sure the gifts [the bread and wine) for the Offertory are
on the table [and nothing else: no handbags, newspapers, gloves,
||e. Check ventilation, heat.
If the People are wilting with the heat, open the windows
[even during Mass). If they are freezing, close the windows.
In the cold weather. make sure the outside doors don't get
f. Always switch on the
light and fan in the Cry-room.
Be ready for emergencies: have a glass of water ready; know
where to find first aid kit, fireextinguishers etc.
h. Normally the amplifier will be switched
on by the servers, but know how to do it, just in case.
i. Check with the priest for any special
e. Notice the families with young children. If
you get the chance, encourage them to sit near
the Cry-room, not in it. The Cry-room is too small for families
to take up residence in it. It is intended for a parent to take
a child there only as long as the child is making too
It is your job as Pass-keeper's to welcome
the People of God.
a. Be at the door to speak to People
as they come in. There should be an atmosphere of welcome
in the porch, and this requires the presence of more than
one Pass-keeper. (But don't force your attentions on People
who would rather slip in quietly.)
b. Keep an eye open for strangers: make a point of speaking
to them. This may be hard for some of you, but a smile
and Hello! can be enough. (It is especially
hard at the 4.30 pm Mass, where often nearly everyone
is a stranger.) Escort them to a seat, if this seems helpful;
offer them a bulletin.
c. Also keep a look-out for the Catholics
[especially the new ones] who live in your own district
of the Parish. Make a point of saying Hello!
d. Notice the presence of the elderly
and/or handicapped. and be aware of their needs.
f. It may not have any
effect, but it should be policy, when the occasion presents itself,
to suggest to people to fill up the Church from the front, instead
of from the back.
g. Make sure that a family
or group is chosen for the Offertory Procession: normally two
for the bread and wine and two pass-keepers for the baskets.
h. When required, give out hymn-books, bulletins,
or other booklets or leaflets.
i. Be aware
that emergencies are possible: make a mental note of people who
may be able to help: for example, doctors or nurses.
B. DURING MASS
1. The Pass-keepers are part of the
Community. What they do and how they do it should re-inforce the
atmosphere of worship and not distract from it.
Stand, kneel, sit, pray, listen, respond, sing with the whole
People, and, when necessary, give a lead.
The seats in the cross-aisle are reserved for the Passkeepers.
Remain in position, except when a specific job has to be done.
c. Do not treat latecomers as a nuisance! Be
courteous to them! But, if you can, persuade them to wait for
the right moment to troop in: e.g. not during a Prayer, or a Reading,
or a moment of silent prayer. A good time to direct them to their
seats would be after the Opening Prayer and before the first Reading
-- the Reader should wait for them to settle -- or after the Gospel
and before the Sermon. Direct them, if they are willing, to the
nearest possible seats. The ideal would be to reserve some back
seats for late-comers, but we don't have enough back seats.
2. The Offertory: This is one
part of the Mass everybody associates with Pass-keepers.
The Collection must take as
little time as possible. This is achieved, not by rushing, but
by being well organized and employing as many Pass-keepers and
baskets as possible. It is especially importaht at Masses with
no singing. because then the Collection breaks the continuity
of the Mass, and it can seem endless.
Don't rush or embarrass anyone during the Collection.
Make sure that the Offertory Procession is formed without de-lay.
As soon as all is ready get the procession under way. [On occasions
like Weddings, Funerals, etc., when there may be an Offertory
Procession, but no collection, it may be necessary to keep them
at the back till the second verse of the hymn. It depends on the
circumstances, but sometimes the procession is over before half
of the first verse is sung.)
d. The bread
and wine come last in the Procession, because last is the correct
position for the most important persons or gifts. The baskets
are at the front for practical reasons: 51. the Pass-keepers can
set the pace and give the others confidence about where to go
and what to do; 52. the baskets are handed over first and are
put in their place, so that, when the priest and servers receive
the bread and wine, they can take them straight to the altar and
get on with the Mass.
e. Those who took part
in the procession genuflect together, and return to their places.
f. If the bread and wine are not to be carried
in the procession, two Pass-keepers bring up the baskets in the
3. The Communion: the Pass-keepers may occasionally
be required to direct the People during the Communion. But don't
develop a "Traffic Cop" mentality!
C. AT THE END OF MASS AND AFTERWARDS:
a. The People come down the centre aisle in
single file, and re-turn to their seats by the side aisles.
Most People are used to this arrangement and there is no need
for Pass-keepers to intervene.
b. If there are two Priests or a Priest and
a Special Minister, the People come down the centre aisle in
two lines. This too does not usually require the intervention
c. Just keep an eye open for possible difficulties,
and intervene only when necessary.
d. On special occasions, if different arrangements
are made, the Pass-keepers will be told.
a. The Second Collection:
It is taken up during the final hymn, starting from the back of
the Church and moving forward.
When it is finished, those who are designated take the baskets
immediately to their destination.
When there is no singing, take up the Second Collection standing
at the Church doors as the People go out.
Use your voice: draw their attention by saying, "Building
Fund Collection" or "Special Collection" or whatever
is appropriate. Don't give them the chance to pretend they haven't
noticed you, but do it with humour and without any
intention of embarrassing or forcing people. Immediately the Collection
is over, those who are designated take the
baskets to their destination.
b. Be at the
doors as the people go out (even when there is no second collection).
You welcomed the People to the
Church; send them happily on their way. Be hospitable right to
c. Once again keep an eye open for
anyone who may need assistance.
d. If there
is anything on after Mass, e.g. Saint Paul's Repository, tea in
the hall, a petition to sign, or tickets on sale,
draw the People's attention to it. A mention in the notices is
|e. Those who are designated
to deal with the money, remove the baskets from under the
Altar and take them together with the Second Collection
directly to their destination.
Tidy up the Church and prepare it for the next
Mass: remove lit-ter, gather abandoned bulletins, tidy the
hymn-books in the seats or, if they will not be needed again,
gather them up and put them away.
Switch off the light and fan in the Cry-room.
Check that the toilets are in order: if needed, replace
toilet rolls, switch out the lights (the fans go on for
another 20 minutes.)
These instructions have been about Sunday Masses.
However, many of the more general points apply to any celebration
you may attend. In particular:
1. At Weekday
Masses and at Devotions: make sure the People get any
books or leaflets that are needed. Ask if there are any special
2. At Funerals there are usually
quite a number of strangers who need to be directed or escorted
to seats. It may be necessary to organise or help with the Offertory
Procession, to open and shut doors, and, after the funeral has
left the Church, to put out candles, remove chalice, cruets, trestles,
etc to Sacristy. (Don't move the Easter Candle till you are sure
the wax has hardened.] Shut the sacristy doors.
|3. At Weddings
they usually have members of the family as ushers, often
teenagers. I always hope that an experienced Pass-keeper
will be there to help and to keep order if necessary. We
have had trouble and noise during weddings because of youngsters
hanging around for the scramble. For this reason I have
forbidden scrambles in the Church grounds, but
that does not seem to stop them.
1. The duties
of Pass-keepers as outlined in this book, especially at the end
of Sunday Mass, will normally require four Passkeepers to be present
rather than just two.
2. For this reason,
the Pass-keepers are divided into teams of more than the required
number. This should allow for holidays and other reasons for absence.
3. Each Mass will be allocated to a team of Pass-keepers.
The Head Pass-keeper will be responsible for this allocation.
4. The team leader will be responsible for ensuring
that enough members of his team are present.
Each member of a team is responsible for keeping the leader informed
when he/she cannot be present.
6. If necessary,
teams or individual members can arrange an exchange with other
One of the biggest problems for Pass-keepers is the handling of
money. I have never had any reason to mistrust any of our Pass-keepers.
But it is essential for your own sakes to follow a strict
procedure. Offertory baskets just occasionally have been
left, for-gotten, under the Altar; or the Second Collection has
lain too long in the porch, a temptation to anyone who is passing.
1. Money must be handled so publicly that no
Pass-keeper ever comes under suspicion and no one else can get
access to it.
2. For this reason, the removal of money to its designated place
in the house should normally be carried out by two Pass-keepers
3. It should be done immediately after Mass.
However, if there are not enough Pass-keepers for other essential
duties, it may be necessary to put the money temporarily in a
safe place in the Sacristy.
4. The Senior Pass-keeper present is primarily responsible for
seeing that the security procedures are carried out.
5. Be careful: NEVER MIX Offertory and Second
Collections when putting the money away.
Not a place to keep spare Pass-keepers but somewhere for all the
things that Pass-keepers sometimes need, but never have; for ex-ample:
first aid kit, stretcher, wheelchair, blanket, lost and found,
"Reserved" signs, pens, paper tissues, sick-cleaning
materials. An inventory should be displayed in the cupboard. The
Head Pass-keeper is responsible for keeping the inventory up-to-date
and also for re-stocking the cupboard when necessary.
1. A meeting of all the Pass-keepers should be held at least once
2. Meetings of the group leaders may be needed more often, and,
if necessary, may be arranged on a regular basis.
A SENSE OF COMMUNITY:
When the Sign of Peace was reintroduced, it was not possible any
more to separate the Community at Mass from the
Community out-side. This is why it was so difficult
for many of us. Of course, it is still possible outside of Mass
to ignore the people we prayed beside,,but, having shaken hands
with them and wished them peace, we are bound to be just a little
more aware of their existence, and maybe feel a little guilty
about ignoring them. The Church does not exist only on Sundays
in the churchbuilding.
It is common now to hear Catholics talk about going to
Church on Sunday. It is not correct. We
are the Church. The Church gathers
for Sunday Mass. So Catholics go to Mass on Sundays.
The Church you serve in the Liturgy still exists after everybody
has gone home. If you, as a Passkeeper, take your ministry seriously,
it is bound to spill over to other days and events. You can't
walk away and ignore the people you get to know on Sundays. Some
of them inevitably will come into your life during the week, as
your friends or just meeting in the street. But it works both
ways. The more people you get to know during the week, the better
you will do your job on Sundays. You will have a better idea of
I have suggested that your sense of Liturgy is inseparable from
your sense of Community; that some spill-over from Sundays to
Week-days is a good thing, may be inevitable.
What I would like to say is that it is essential.
People think that priests have changed; they don't do what priests
used to do. Whatever the truth of this, it is definitely true
that people have changed, patterns of
living and working have changed. Villages like ours are
no longer stable communities: people move in and out, sometimes
without getting to know anybody. For many, their only practical
interest in Milton of Campsie is an evening meal and a bed. For
the Catholics among them, Saint Paul's is only one of a number
of places to grab a Sunday Mass. If new parishioners come to 4.30
pm Mass, it is difficult to distinguish them from the strangers.
Newcomers often show their face for the first time when they have
a baby for Baptism; they remain visible for a few months, then
move elsewhere. Under these circumstances here and in other parishes,
it is increasingly difficult, often impossible, to foster a sense
of belonging to a Parish.
More than anybody else, Passkeepers are in a position to see new-comers
at Mass and to make them feel welcome (or unwelcome). You can
play an essential part in building up a sense of Community, a
sense of belonging to a Parish, by allowing your Liturgical Ministry
to spill over into your daily lives in your own area of the parish.
FOSTERING A SENSE OF BELONGING:
Pass-keepers must be chosen from every district in the Parish.2.
With your wives/husbands and families, you are invited to:
a. keep an eye open for Catholics moving
in or out of your district;
the priest know when Catholics move in or out of the Parish or
change address within the Parish;
without imposing yourself on people, make yourself known to them,
so that you are someone they recognise when they come to Mass;
d. point out to them or put them in
touch with the other Catholics in the area;
let them know the times of Mass etc;
keep the ones who do not come to Mass in Saint Paul's in touch
with the Parish (i.e. those who go elsewhere and those who go
no-where): drop the Bulletin through their letterboxes (i can
always make more if necessary);
be ready on occasions to distribute other leaflets, sale of work
bags, or whatever;
h. if you hear
of illness or problems, let the priest know about it (unless of
course you were told in confidence).
|This is not intended to impose a great burden
of responsibility on you.
It does not commission you to be the organizer or leader
of the Catholics in your area.
You are invited to continue to live your life as before,
but to be a little more visible as a Catholic to the other
Catholics in the district and to be a little more observant.