Elderly or infirm "liturgical ministers"?

I was wondering what others thought about very elderly or infirm “liturgical ministers” who refuse to graciously retire when there are ready replacements for them?

For example, let’s say one is a reader. It has come to the point where they are extremely difficult to hear and understand. Is it proper to endure this and let them continue to show respect for their long service to the parish, or should they be gently “retired” by the pastor?

The same question could be asked about EMsHC. Some in my parish are so fragile that they put the Blessed Sacrament at risk (yes, there have been incidents) due to shaking hands and unsteady legs, etc. Should they too be quietly retired? I know in some liturgical meetings they have pushed to suspend communion on tongue because they no longer have the ability to do it.

In none of the cases that come to mind would the person be appreciative of being retired by the pastor. It’s their post by golly and they have done the job for years and they’re not about to step aside.

I’m just curious what others think?

It can be a sensitive issue to address. But I feel that the pastor should know when to ask the person to retire if they do not ask on their own. It is not always a case of pride for some of them to continue in their serving. Some may wish to retire but may feel that they do not want to abandon their duty. They may even welcome being asked to step down. You never know.

The decision rests with the parish priest.

Were there not ready replacements, that would be a different situation indeed. That’s not the case around here though.

That’s axiomatic.

It’s very much like the problem of some elderly people continuing to drive a car after they’ve become unsafe. Some will insist on doing it until they are stopped by someone else and had their licence removed. They can be very dangerous to themselves and others.

So, yes, sometimes there is a need for the parish priest to intervene.

Correct, and they know best how to deploy that decision gracefully & with respect for the person involved.

That is a very powerful analogy. Thank you. I was just curious what others thought? This is one of those subjects that some mistakenly feel shouldn’t even be considered by laypeople, much less discussed. They are wrong about that.

Sadly in my parish, it’s a layperson that “trains” and schedules lay ministers. It’s an incredibly political process, including linkages to tithing and major gifting. Typically it takes a very difficult “incident” during Mass for the pastor to take much needed action. At least that’s been the tradition in my parish.

We all take Don Ruggero’s point that the decision rests with the priest (and presumably, the action also).

However parish priests are usually overworked, and could easily overlook such a matter until it were brought to their attention - tactfully, of course.

I would think such a reader would be quite welcome at daily Mass…because he would likely be reading and assisting at the Mass with many of his peers.

I would recommend speaking to the Pastor about the individuals affected and suggest to the Pastor that they might be better suited to the daily Mass where there is not so large a crowd.

That could be a very sensitive way to handle it.

Depending on scheduling and the availability of others, the schedule could also be very gradually reduced. Instead of every other week, it could go to every third, then after a while, once a month, once every six weeks, and so on.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to take a tack like this simply to avoid conflict, but in some cases it’s a kindness ​to a person who is committed and trying hard, but just no longer capable.

The steps up to the sanctuary and up to the ambo are just as challenging on week days as they are on Sundays. For some, the vision only gets worse and for others the memory doesn’t get any better. If it is time to retire then it’s time to retire. I think in most cases people know when it’s time to step down. I agree that the pastor should be the one to talk to those who can’t seem to make that move to retire.

That presumes, though, that the space used for the celebration of Eucharist on Sunday is the same space used for the weekday Eucharist. That is not universally so.

Over the years, I have had various lectors tell me that they preferred to stop reading at the Sunday Eucharist…but were glad to continue at the weekday, given the size was so much smaller – both in terms of space and number attending – and the gathering was much more informal.

Ultimately the pastor makes the decision and has the dubious privilege of retiring the EMHC. In the meantime perhaps the OP could receive Communion from only the priest? I have seen people do the whole line switching thing so it can happen.

I assume that the OP is in on the liturgical meetings and knows that the people refuse to retire. Is it a case of feeling they have to serve? My mother the Baptist was asked to serve at her church long after she had any ability to do so. My mother was torn with guilt thinking that she had to do it. I of course was telling her just to say “no.”:shrug:

This is what I think. You need to get out more, volunteer in aged and infirm residential care units. Help ageing Priests in their daily Pastoral Care of their much loved Parishoners.

Attend Masses celebrated by Indian Missionary Priests whose accent is quite thick at first.

Go volunteer in extremely derelict and poverty stricken Parishes who don’t have the funds to wear the latest high fashion alter garb or use highly adorned artifacts.
In fact a stint as a Missionary in an outback Australian Parish, or a war torn Syrian Parish , a homeless Mission where drugs and destitution are the norm for those coming to worship God, might just exhibit the value and worth of God in everyday life.

You asked, that’s what I think. The worship of God seems deficient in threads about alter garb, and elderly readers. My goodness. I will pray for you.

This is what I think. You need to get out more, volunteer in aged and infirm residential care units. Help ageing Priests in their daily Pastoral Care of their much loved Parishoners.

Attend Masses celebrated by Indian Missionary Priests whose accent is quite thick at first.

Go volunteer in extremely derelict and poverty stricken Parishes who don’t have the funds to wear the latest high fashion alter garb or use highly adorned artifacts.
In fact a stint as a Missionary in an outback Australian Parish, or a war torn Syrian Parish , a homeless Mission where drugs and destitution are the norm for those coming to worship God, might just exhibit the value and worth of God in everyday life.

You asked, that’s what I think. The worship of God seems deficient in threads about alter garb, and elderly readers. My goodness. I will pray for you.

And if you feel this strongly about the niceties of the celebration of Mass and the customs of Priesthood, walk the talk, become a Priest. Then a Bishop. Change things to your standards.

Perhaps I was responding to a poster who presumed that the weekday Mass is celebrated in a space other than Sunday Mass :slight_smile: And that is not true for many parishes. But I get your point.

Hold on just a moment. I didn’t say that I was personally impacted by elderly or infirm “liturgical ministers”, or that I felt I needed to do something about it. Nor did I ask whose responsibility it is to replace them.

I simply asked “I was wondering what others thought about very elderly or infirm “liturgical ministers” who refuse to graciously retire when there are ready replacements for them?”

I think if I asked that question in my parish to the pastor and the “liturgy committee” and they answered truthfully it would be something along the lines of “they have served for a very long time and they are entitled to continue as long as the possibly can even if it has a deleterious effect on the celebration of the Mass or places the Blesses Sacrament at risk.”

But I’m not really curious what my parish feels – I already know what they feel. I’m curious what others feel outside of my parish?

That’s not really the case in the situation I’m asking about because he is the one that is at least sometimes presiding over the Masses that give rise to my question,

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