Sunday Lay Ministry Query


Hi all - Our parish has started welcoming parishioners as they arrive in mass and wishing them farewell as they leave. One parishioner has told me that it is against Canon Law to perform this role and to do a second ministry such as reader, Extra Ordinary Minister of the Eucharist, etc on a Sunday. Does anyone know if that is right???:confused:


There is definitely no canon against it, and I am not aware of a rubric, but it is common pastoral practice to limit everyone to one ministry per liturgy. Pastors of both my home parish and visiting parish are rather strict about it. I think it’s mostly about giving everyone a chance to participate, because sometimes people “take over” and try to do it all, and badly.


It’s true that the guideline is for each person to only serve one ministry at Mass. But being a greeter isn’t really a ministry and the function is not part of Mass. It’s something that is added in before and/or after Mass. In any case, it’s a guideline, not a law. Your pastor can select whomever he wants to do this. At our parish, it’s the ushers before Mass and Father does the after Mass greetings himself.

I think the reference for this is in Redemptionis Sacramentum

  1. The Ministries of the Lay Christian Faithful in the Celebration of Holy Mass

[43.] For the good of the community and of the whole Church of God, some of the lay faithful according to tradition have rightly and laudably exercised ministries in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.[109] It is appropriate that a number of persons distribute among themselves and exercise various ministries or different parts of the same ministry.[110]


I wouldn’t think so. Otherwise the local policeman directing traffic in and out of the parking lot could classify himself as a minister. :slight_smile:


The above answers are correct. Welcoming is not a ministry, and, while it is recommended that a person only perform one ministry, it is a only a guideline, not a law.

Well done coming here to check it.

Such people as those who told you this can cause serious harm by criticising their parish or priests from canon law when they don’t know what they are talking about. Even if they do know (and they usually don’t), they should go through the correct channels, ie. the priests and/or liturgy committee, to make any complaints.


Actually, if you want to extrapolate into the past, Porter was traditionally a minor clerical order. Most parishes keep this alive in the form of ushers, but some liberal places have decided that they need “greeters” to be “welcoming” because the ordinary faithful must be too cold and rude.


We introduced it for a while, and then it faded pretty quickly - as silly, annoying ideas usually do.


It’s now part of the Rebuilt Parish craze aka Parish Catalyst. I’m afraid that this kind of bad idea is catching fire as American parishes struggle to stay relevant and look more like Evangelical MegaChurches.


You may find it silly and annoying, or like something from another faith tradition, but if there is a reason, and there might well be, the one you give about multiple ministries of a liturgy doesn’t make any sense, so you may have got it that part wrong.

Greeting people upon entering church and bidding farewell afterwards are not part of any liturgy. Greeting is well before the introductory rites, and farewells are after the closing rites.


Our church regularly gets visitors from all around the country and even from overseas. So I can understand the desire to welcome guests. (that being said, we don’t have any greeters unless an usher happens to say, “Good morning!”). We do have everyone from the altar “greet” on the way out afterward–priest, deacon, reader, ECMs. Even the altar servers stand at the door when everyone’s filing out.

But…I also see it as kind of a Protestant thing.

But…I’ve been to some churches where if the people don’t recognize you as having been a member there for 20 years they’ll give you the cold shoulder.


We get a lot of visitors too since we are on a main roadway that is heavily traveled by vacationers. The most valuable people to visitors are the ones who hand out the missalettes. We don’t have pews that have pockets for missalettes or hymnals. So a newcomer could get all the way to their seat and not have a book and feel awkward. But we always have a few people who “man” the book rack and make sure everyone gets a misallette and a hymnal. They aren’t greeters per se but they serve a great welcoming function.


There’s a tendency at times to characterise pretty much everything as a “ministry” - be it: hospitality, cleaning, flower arranging, etc. While a few things in the parish setting can properly referred to as a ministry, most can’t. the tendency probably arises out of misguided notions that some work (i.e. that done as part of a “ministry”) is some how more important, or made to seem more important if referred to as a ministry. It’s also related to a tendency to clericalise the laity resulting in a blurring of the boundaries between the two roles. All work done for God is of equal importance, along with those who do it - the saints provide us with many examples of this - without the need to be propped up with titles.

Greeting (and possibly farewelling) people is important - people arriving at mass should feel that they are coming to a welcoming parish rather than a cold and impersonal one since, after all, they are coming to be part of the Body of Christ and not some sort of exclusive club. Of course, as with anything, it’s easy to do too much but IMHO not doing enough is sadly more common.


Why cant the ushers be friendly? Rather than has somebody look silly saying hello. Ser up a table with whats happening and do some promotion


Many thanks for all your comments. I will share them with my PP on his return from Sunny Florida:thumbsup:


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