Lay volunteers in the Parish


Not sure if this is the right forum, but here goes. We have several lay people who are in charge of altar servers, Holy Communion for the housebound, music during Mass, youth groups, etc. Trouble is they don’t like anyone else to ‘help’ They want to be in charge and are very sensitive to any criticism. How you get other people involved without upsetting anyone? One person refused to let another do a reading at Mass because’ I ‘ve been reading for 20 years and I’m not stopping now!’ When some has been spoken to they get very upset and annoyed. Any suggestions perhaps something someone has tried and it has worked?


Maybe have a talk with their shepherd. Let him have an opportunity to offer them some better perspective on service.


When the person who has been lectoring for 20 years, just cut in front of them and read the passage yourself. :wink: :smiley:

JUST KIDDING! Don’t do that!

Talk to your priest about it and let him talk to the director instead of you dealing with it yourself.

Any lay who wants to help out needs to find some way of helping out, its called stewardship. If your priest don’t allow other laity to come in and participate in the mass, Just call up your Deanery head, or your bishop, and let HIM deal with it. :slight_smile:


I’m confused. Do you mean that there’s only one reader in the parish and that reader won’t let anyone else read? Or has this reader been the reader at a specific Mass for 20 years and now won’t let anyone else read then? Or is this reader being asked to quit the ministry completely (for whatever reason) and won’t do so?

In any case this is for the Pastor to deal with. He’s the boss and he answers to the Bishop. While he may well consult with the various ministries, his is still the final word.


as others have stated, this is a problem for your pastor to deal with. i just have one other thing to add from personal experience. highly visible service to the church tends to fill up the fastest. make of that what you will. but there are other services that you can render! ask around. when i wanted to pitch in and noticed that there were plenty of lectors and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, i simply asked my priest where my help was needed most. i found my niche cleaning and ironing linens. this otherwise dull task (i do not enjoy doing laundry!) is uplifting because it is so vital and necessary, they didn’t have enough people helping, and because other participants in the liturgy are so appreciative of what i do. i get thanked by someone or another almost every time i come in with another load purificators and corporals. i don’t stand in front of the whole church and get recognized for what i do, perhaps, but those few who see me in the sacristy every week and handle the linens that i bring in do note it and appreciate it.


You’re just witnessing the Sin of Pride in action.


I don’t mean this to sound rude but for the sake of understanding the problem better…

Who are you that you consider this situation to be a problem and you think you need to come up with the solution?

Are you a member of the clergy or someone at the parish tasked with organizing lay volunteers? Are you someone who would like to become a reader or other volunteer?

In general I agree with what others have said: this is an issue for your pastor/parish priest to tackle and/or solve. That is, unless your priest or other parish authority has tasked you with handling it. If you yourself want to become a volunteer for a particular ministry then you need to start with the person in charge of the ministry.

If the person in charge is the 20-year-reader then you need to decide if it’s worth rocking the liturgical boat by going over his/her head.


Agreeing with everyone else. The Pastor is in charge and so is the person you should ask about whatever task you would like to do. The question is “Father, I am interested in becoming a reader/EMHC/other. How should I go about that?”

Saying something like “Mr. Smith won’t let me read the epistle! Make him!” is not the best tact to take. :wink:

I also agree that doing the less “popular” tasks will give you the same satisfaction of helping and possibly more graces!

When we joined this parish, I volunteered to teach CCD since I have taught at every other church I’ve belonged to. When my son was old enough, we signed him up to be an altar boy. Every other task we do or have done for the parish has been in response to a direct request from the pastor or the person put in charge of that ministry.

If there has been a request for more readers/ushers/etc. than the person in charge of that task should accept anyone who volunteers and does whatever training, etc that is required. If you are offering, than start with the pastor and then go to whoever he directs you to. If you are told there isn’t a need for more readers/ushers/etc. than you can only say “well, call me if you ever do need someone else” and then move on to volunteering at the soup kitchen.


I agree with everyone else here. the pastor is the one who ultimately who does what in any parish. Service is drilled into us in our parish since the youth group on and is always classified as an ‘honor’ not a right. You can’t just decide one day you should be a lector and b oom it happens :shrug:

At our parish in order to read or be a EMHC you have to be asked by the leader of that ministry or at the prompting of the pastor. You also have to be approved by the pastor of course.

Like another poster said ask the pastor or another priest where help is needed. Believe me there’s always a need for cleaning, moving stuff, etc the non-glamorous stuff.

The ladies that clean the inside of all building in our parish are not known by anyone since that is the way their ministry is set up, they can’t tell anyone they are the ones doing all of the cleaning only they and the pastor know and maybe some busybodies that hang around late on weekdays.

"The first service I did at my parish was cleaning the outside of the church by sweeping and mopping with my youth group at night. Not glamorous but super fun and we felt proud when the church looked great for Sunday mass :thumbsup:


I agree, find out what is needed. If the job you want is already filled, than what’s the point?
Ask your pastor if he has something for you to do. Pastors love to hear that.:slight_smile:


This is how I’ve been a reader, a cantor and an EMHC at various times over the past 12 years. Not enough readers? I volunteer (since I’m at Mass anyway). Not enough cantors? I step down as a reader and volunteer to learn to cantor (I’m at Mass anyway). One of the people in the EMHC rotation died and the priest asked me to be available? Sure thing, Padre! :thumbsup:


Once someone is “in charge” as you described this position of authority, they are responsible.As a newcomer be very careful of criticism that you dish out.
If one is called to serve, serve. we are not called to boss.


That is an issue that should be taken up with the pastor andd let him handle the situation.
Hopefully he will be diplomatic.


At a former parish, a man used to serve and set up the alter during weekday Masses and sometimes on Sunday too. However, when we had a transitional deacon, he did not defer to the deacon, even thought it's really the deacon's place to do this. This poor, young deacon was trying to set up the corporal and chalices on the alter, and the lay man was reaching over him to do this. They almost were almost starting to elbow each other. He seemed to act like the deacon was infringing, even though it was the other way around.

I've also seen this in other ministries as well. Sometimes when someone needs to suddenly quit a ministry, no one else knows what they were doing, you just have to start from scratch. I think this is just part of parish life now. There are not enough priests to run everything, so the pastor needs to find people to lead different ministries with little direction. And sometimes the people who end up in those positions would just rather do everything themselves instead of using it as a way to build community. I think most of the time we are to offer it up and look for other ways we can serve. I also try to consciously not be like this myself, but to welcome others into whatever I'm doing.


This is a horrible, horrible problem in my parish. The people who are in charge of such things in my parish lack ability, drive and tact. Sadly the only people they allow into their pet ministries are their friends who think a like. They have taken a horrible toll on my parish, on the celebration of the Mass and on the faithful.

The bottom line is this. Until we get a pastor who has the resolve to replace these people, nothing is going to change. It really is that simple.


It’s not the deacon’s job to lay-out the corporal or the precious vessels or to set-up the Missal, etc. “Dressing the altar” is the job of the server(s). Preparing the chalice(s) and other vessels is the job of the deacon. Watch the daily Mass on EWTN. They have it down nicely.


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