Liturgical roles


I have lived in two diocese recently. In both places I have volunteered to fill one of two Liturgical roles, Lector and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

In one Diocese I was told that each person could only be in one role during Mass. In the other I can be assigned to both roles during Mass.

Is there anything in the GIRM or Liturgical documents that uphold either one of these practices.

For me - I believe one person should only fulfill one role.


It might be preferential to some pastors in their parish, but I don’t think you’ll find any mention of it one way or the other in the documents that govern Liturgy.


I used to make the liturgical minister schedule at my parish, so I am speaking from the guidelines I was given when I took on the task.

It is preferred that a person only perform*** one ministy ***during a Mass, either lector, or be an EMHC. We had many people who did both, so often times they would lector one week and EMHC the next. Sometimes though, a person who is scheduled doesn’t show up, and there may not be someone else, so someone may end up doing “duel ministry”. Thankfully, that does not happen very often. As a matter of fact, I can think of only one time it happened in the 4 years I did the job.

Now, I am not sure where you would find this in the rubrics, or if you even would. My guess is that is falls under the jurisdiction of he local Ordinary to set the “norm” for his diocese, which may be leaving it up to the priest to decide, based on the needs of the parish.


it would seem that this idea is not really supported by church documents. For example, if you have a man who is an instituted acolyte and lector, he should read and distribute communion, as well as serve the Mass.

Of course, there may be something to the contrary specifically for cases when there is no instituted acolytes, but unless someone can produce such a citation, it logically follows that there’s nothing wrong with multiple duties, if the person is the best person to fulfill their duties.


While it is not forbidden, a reading of the GIRM shows that the preference is for different ministers.

  1. If there are several present who are able to exercise the same ministry, nothing forbids their distributing among themselves and performing different parts of the same ministry or duty. For example, one Deacon may be assigned to execute the sung parts, another to serve at the altar; if there are several readings, it is well to distribute them among a number of readers, and the same applies for other matters. However, it is not at all appropriate that several persons divide a single element of the celebration among themselves, e.g., that the same reading be proclaimed by two readers, one after the other, with the exception of the Passion of the Lord.
  1. If at a Mass with the people only one minister is present, that minister may exercise several different functions.

If it was felt necessary to include 110 to say that one person may exercise several ministries if he’s the only minister, I think we can conclude that the preference is for different ministries/different ministers if it’s possible. That doesn’t mean that a person can’t be prepared for several different ministries, it’s just that ideally they would carry out only one at at given Mass.

in my parish, a good number of our readers are also EMHCs and some are also altar servers (one is trained for all three ministries). They usually do not exercise two ministries in the same Mass unless they’re the only minister – usually if you’re going to see that it’s at the Saturday evening Mass where the congregation is smaller, older, and there are only a few ministers willing to exercise their ministry at that Mass.


question answered.


Not so fast…

2010, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. If you have altered the materials, please include the citation: Based upon Roman Missal Formational Materials provided by the Secretariat for the Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, "2010.
Ministries and Roles Within the Liturgical Assembly at Mass

The General Instruction makes it very clear that this variety of offices and roles is desirable and should be maintained. In fact it goes so far as to state: … all, therefore, whether they are ordained ministers or Christian faithful, in fulfilling their offices or their duty, should carry out solely but completely that which pertains to them." Not only, therefore, is it desirable that individuals function in roles of service at Mass, it is clear from the Instruction that if a deacon, for example, is present, the priest celebrant or a concelebrant should not read the Gospel. And the lector should not also take on the role of server and/or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. There is a wide variety of services to be performed, and it is desirable that different individuals exercise those services so that the talents and gifts God has placed within the Christian community are fully utilized and these roles of service are not monopolized by a few.


Annabelle Marie,
Thank you for this! :smiley:
I knew I had read something “official” regarding this, but I was just not sure where I saw it!
Do you have a link to this? I believe this also addressed a couple of other issues, I seem to remember talking about this in one of my Liturgical Theology classes.


The US is not the only country represented in this forum.

Nothing in GIRM 109 & 110 contradicts that but if you have only one minister at a given Mass and that person may perform all ministries, doesn’t it stand to reason that he/she should be trained in all those ministries? It’s all well and good to want to get as many people as possible, and large parishes have that luxury, but small parishes often have a limited pool of people and it becomes necessary for people to be cross-trained to do one ministry one week and another the next week.


As a note - those that volunteer in more than one role in my parish is not because there is a lack of available people. At any given Mass there are other volunteers in attendance who are not brought forth. If it was a question of no other options I can understand the need for one person to assist at Mass in more than one way. This is never the case.


I don’t believe I said the US was the only one represented but it does give a view on how SOME Bishops at least would view what the GIRM was saying. I also don’t think it is talking about being trained in two or more ministries…the problem, in my view, is performing several in the same liturgy. For example…we have a reader who will get called on to be EMHC because he arrives a little later and the MC does not have to go looking for a fill in. My understanding of this is that he needs to inform them that he is a reader for that Mass and decline to fulfill the stand in as EMHC.


In my parish we have also been instructed to only serve in one role per Mass. I never asked for a citation, but simply followed instructions from our pastor. There have been cases where someone is scheduled to read and has to decline being an EMHC (or the other way around - although usually not since Readers have to prepare in advance and EMHC can fill in easily once trained.)


And in our parish, one or two of the senior altar boys (High School aged) will be asked to Read.

The boys chosen will not act as altar boys during that Mass.

(there are plenty of others as we usually have dozens of boys serving Mass) :slight_smile:


OK, so in effect my post and yours say the same thing: if at all possible you have different persons performing each ministry.


[quote="Phemie, post:14, topic:311186"]
OK, so in effect my post and yours say the same thing: if at all possible you have different persons performing each ministry.




I hope that link works…


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