The ministry of usher comes from the Jewish tradition of the “gatekeeper” in the Old Testament. Their duties included watching over the doors of the temple and collecting money offerings from the people (see 2 Kings 22:4, Chronicles 9:19 and Chapter 26, Jeremiah 35:4). There is 3rd century evidence that this ministry continued in the Catholic Church. They were referred to as “porters”, and carried out some of the original functions of deacons. Porters were one of the four minor orders prior to 1972. Today, the ministry of usher involves much more than collecting money and serving as doorkeeper.
The ministry of usher is perhaps the most important for setting the tone for worship during Mass, prayer services, or other Parish event. The usher, who should be comfortable meeting and greeting others, extends a sense of welcome to others prior to prayer. Such qualities are a blessing, especially to the stranger or to those who haven’t attended Mass in our parish on a regular basis.
Of course, it is ideal to have an Usher/Greeter at each door of the church as people arrive for worship. A lengthy conversation is not necessary at this time, but a warm smile and a “good morning” may be all that is needed to help people feel welcome and glad to be at Sacred Heart for worship. Also, before the Mass begins, and once it starts; ushers assist with seating parishioners (especially the latecomers when appropriate). Ushers are also responsible in assisting with making the church comfortable by paying attention to opening doors or windows as needed and being available for emergencies.
Collections, as offerings to God, have always been part of our preparation for the Eucharistic prayer. We place before the altar the work of human hands. As part of our normal collection process beginning September 12, 2015, collections will not be gathered after communion because it interrupts the prayer time after communion and it is disconnected from the offering of bread and wine.
The collection basket along with the bread and wine we offer can be brought up by an usher, but preferably by someone else chosen by the usher. It is best that people from the congregation bring forward the gifts. If the ushers routinely bring up the gifts, it excludes the many other parishioners who may wish to have the opportunity.
At Sacred Heart, it has become customary for some of the ushers to direct the flow of the communion procession by guiding the faithful out pew by pew. Other ushers stand near the Communion Ministers to assist with the flow of people receiving communion. This coordinated effort helps minimize the time it takes to distribute communion to the congregation, yet keeping the process reverent.
Those who desire to serve as minister of hospitality should be active and faithful men and women Sacred Heart Covina. In addition to providing the best attention to the care of the assembly, Hospitality ministers/ushers should be of good character and reputation. They should respect others, practice discretion, and show in their living the qualities of stewardship. To join, contact the Parish Center at 626-332-3570