Enterence processional turning into a circus


Good afternoon!

I’m writing this for a bit of aid and to benefit from the vast wisdom of this collected community. My wife is the director of music and worship at our parish; and we are getting much push back in trying to correct what we are perceiving to be a liturgical abuse.

The short of the problem is this: Under a former pastor, the entire active ministerial body processed in during the opening processional. This is to say that the priest, deacon (if present), and lector all processed in. All of that is quite acceptable. However, in addition to these typical members of the procession, all of the extraordinary ministers of holy communion as well as the cantor processed in as well. If it was a special Mass, say All Souls day or something where a specific ministry was being highlighted, that ministry would process in as well.

My wife very quickly nipped the cantor processing in; using the simple logic that the cantor is busy exercising his ministry during the gathering hymn, and that he/she should be serving as opposed to processing.

What it is turning into is a “moment in the spotlight” for the various lay ministers, rather than a humble approach to the altar. It is very much a time where these people can stand front and center before all the congregation…In the far off distance, I can hear trumpets blaring… :shrug:

At recent meetings, she has told the EMOHCs that they will no longer be processing in. She has been met with blacklash ranging from simple refusal to personal attacks against her. Really, its been a very trying time. The pastor supports the decision, but hasn’t publicly stood along side her in this time.

What I’m wondering is if this community can point me in the direction of liturgical documents that might defend her point (or justify the opposition?). I’ve been doing some research, but I haven’t really found much that I can give to her.

Thank you all for your time, and God bless.


This is an interesting question. I personally don’t know, but you might try asking at the CMAA forum.
There are lots of knowledgeable folks over there who will probably know the right documents and such.


The biggest question to me in all this is what does the pastor think?

Quoting documents probably isn’t going to sway people who don’t like her decision. However, if the pastor is behind her and supports the change, then it’s going to happen.

If the pastor isn’t totally behind the change, then there’s going to be a problem when someone complains (and someone undoubtedly will).


GIRM 44 & 47 simply says “ministers” accompany the celebrant and deacon, with no specifics about which “ministers” qualify to process in. I think that is the Pastor’s decision, and I can understand if there is some push-back if it appears that the participants are chosen by the Music Director instead of the Pastor.


Forgive me if I wasn’t clear; but the pastor was the one who originally suggested these changes.

Again; I apologize to the confusion.


This won’t help, but all I can say is, you’re not alone. The entrance processional you describe sounds the same as what happens at my parish, with the altar servers, the EMHC’s, the lector, the ushers, and oh yes, the presider all in procession. The way the lector carries the lectionary above their head always looks as though they’re about to clobber the person ahead of them with it.


At our parish the EMHC’s are suppose to process in but rarely do. I don’t like doing it so I never do-except when I’m MC and carry the processional cross.


Generally, when the GIRM uses the term “minister,” it is not referring to anything and everything that is somehow termed a “ministry,” but rather has the more narrow sense of just meaning the altar servers/acolytes. Hence, this could be read as saying that the altar servers process in with the celebrant and the deacon.



In that case it would probably be best if he told other people/groups that they would no longer process in. It would also be good if he had an explanation for why he wants things to be different so it’s not just “we’re making this change” but “we’re making this change because…” He’s the one with the authority over liturgy in the parish and people will probably accept changes more from him.


I completely agree. In an honest effort to not be uncharitable toward out pastor; of whom we are quite greatful for; I didn’t mention that he shys away from conflict. My wife is very strong willed; and so was given the duty of “laying down the law”. I’m hoping in the future he will stand beside her on issues such as this (if only for her stress levels). Really; he is a very holy man; but conflict resolution can sometimes be lacking.

Due to that; I was hoping for documents or precedents by which I could empower my wife in the abscence of a definitive public statement from the pastor.

Thank you all once more!


I wholeheartedly agree with every single thing that SuscipeMeDomine wrote. The Pastor is the authority and he may, if push comes to shove, say “that is the way it will be.” Period and end of story.

The Pastor could be throwing your Wife under the bus unintentionally! When I have been in “kind of” similar situation/s I have told him to please handle it. The Pastor should be the one who speaks and sets things straight. The reason I do tell him, is so that he knows I am not doing it. He is now aware and not waiting for “it” to be resolved.

If your Wife does not feel like telling the Pastor that “this is his problem”, then she might ask him to “help her” by calling a meeting (in which the Pastor would stand with her), with those processing and then he would be able to speak to/with them. Your Wife in turn would let them know the details about the music – if she needs to say anything at all.

At all the parishes I have been a member, the people who process are: the Priest Celebrant/s, Deacon/s, and Altar Servers (including Cross bearer). I have only known the Lector/s and EMHCs to process only at one of the parishes. That is it.

Best of luck. I will pray for your Wife and for the Pastor.

Happy and blessed Advent!


All right. I get a better picture now – I think. :slight_smile: Who likes conflict, though?:confused:

Let me ask you, is there an “Office of Worship” in your Diocese? Is your Pastor open to have someone from that office come and help with the Liturgy? The person would meet with the Pastor (and possibly your Wife), come for Mass a few Sundays, meet with the Pastor, and then meet with those who have anything to do with the Liturgy and explain things. The Pastor would, of course, be completely involved, but would have the enormous help of the Diocese. Your Wife would then not be the “target”;).

What I did for one of my parishes, with the Pastor’s permission, was to get all the information for my Pastor, the Pastor then decided, and I called the Archdiocese person back. It all worked out very well for everyone and we all worked together.:thumbsup:

That is only an idea.


Perhaps a ‘blurb’ in the bulletin explaining the change would help as well, from the Pastor.


My advice is that you don’t need any documents to prove your point. The pastor’s suggestion is all that is needed and that is all that you need to say. Backlash tends to fade away if you let it.


:coffeeread: :popcorn:


freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-angelic014.gif :slapfight: freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-angelic006.gif :compcoff:


I think you have received quite a number of good ideas – and more may come. Do keep us informed! Your Wife (and of course, you) have my prayers. Thank you for caring!

freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-angelic014.gif :slapfight: freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-angelic006.gif :compcoff:

Happy Advent!

Luz Maria


A few extracts from the liturgical books that may help:

“47. When the people are gathered, and as the Priest enters with the Deacon and ministers, the Entrance chant begins.”

Chapter III of the GIRM has the title “Duties and Ministries in the Mass”. It then has sections:
The Ministry of Instituted Acolyte and Lector
Other Functions

Groups listed under Particular Ministries are:
instituted readers,
instituted acolytes,
“in the absence of instituted acolytes … lay ministers … who are even deputed to distribute Holy Communion as extraordinary ministers.”,
“in the absence of an instituted lector, other lay people may be deputed to proclaim the readings”,
the psalmist,
“103. Among the faithful, the schola cantorum or choir exercises its own liturgical function …”.
other musicians, the organist,
cantor or a choir director,
the sacristan,
the commentator,
those who take up the collections,
“Those who, in some regions, welcome the faithful at the church doors, seat them appropriately, and marshal them in processions.”,
master of ceremonies.

“120. When the people are gathered, the Priests and ministers, wearing the sacred vestments, go in procession to the altar in this order: …”. It then lists thurifier, ministers with lighted candles, minister with cross, the acolytes and other ministers, reader, Priest.

This is for “Mass without a deacon”. The important part for this issue here is “wearing the sacred vestments”. It seems everyone in the entrance procession is to be in sacred vestments.

But: “339. Acolytes, readers and other lay ministers may wear the alb or other suitable attire that has been legitimately approved by the Conference of Bishops.”

“259. The sanctuary is the place where the altar stands, the Word of God is proclaimed, and the Priest, the Deacon, and other ministers exercise their functions.”

Ceremonial of Bishops, n. 128, has a strange list for the Entrance Procession for a Stational Mass of the Diocesan Bishop. It has a lot of people in it, but no readers. There is (in order from the front): a censer bearer, acolyte carrying cross, between seven (or at least two) acolytes with candles, “clergy, two by two”, deacon with book of the Gospels, deacons, concelebrant, bishop, two deacons, “ministers who assist with the book, the miter, and the pastoral staff”.


You haven’t given us anything to support your claim which appears to be your private interpretation yet you make it sound like a fact when you state “it is not referring to anything and everything”.
Read John Lilburne’s post and you will see you are wrong.


Hang in there,
When I was transferred into a new parish, there were numerous liturgical abuses and unnecessary actions. Also new was the pastor and the Liturgy director. We proceeded to correct the situation and the wailing and nashing of teeth began. New protocols were written for every ministry with new training. It took almost a year to get everything corrected, but it took the pastor standing his ground and supporting the liturgy director to get it done. Now our liturgies are very close to being what they are suppose to be, still some issues with one of the coral groups, but we will get.

Peace, Deacon Frank

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.