Who takes care of all the “stuff” involved in the mass? I’m particularly interested in the vestments. Who is responsible for cleaning, repairing, and generally caring for them? Is it a lay person? I ask because if it were, I would be especially interested in being of service to my parish in that way. Please advise.
Generally, it is the sacristan. This position is usually a layman.
The Sacristan is responsible for maintenance of the vestments, the implements used in the mass (Thurible, Processional Cross, the various means of sprinkling holy water, etc), and stocking the wine and bread, cleaning & repair of the linens.
The sacristan does not, however, purify the vessels. He may wash them after they have been purified by a cleric or instituted acolyte (or ordained acolyte or subdeacon, in those Churches which have retained them, such as the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church), and may be expected to polish and/or make minor repairs.
In small parishes, the rector often does the sacristan’s job.
Many of the Sacristan’s jobs are often shared with the Altar Guild.
Some Sacristans are also tasked with building maintenance as well.
In our parish we have two parishioners who wash the linens every week. The rectory cleaning ladies wash the albs of the priests and the servers and the larger altar linens and cloths. The chasuables, stoles and decorative altar cloths are sent to the dry cleaners by the parish secretary.
I was a Sacristan for over Twelve years and it was my job to take care of all priestly vestments and the deaconate as well. Set up for all Masses, Funerals, Weddings, and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. My job also entailed purifying sacred vessels and consuming the abusive excesses of too much consecrated wine ( The Sacred Blood of Christ ) that nobody else cared about. What was I to do ? I would not let some lay eucharistic minister’s pour the Sacred Blood down the sewer drain which by the way I witnessed happening on numerous occasions. Oh by the way I too am a lay Catholic. But I had enough respect and faith not to allow blashemies happen while I was Sacrastan. I was hurting in my heart because I saw the liturgical abuses and how Blessed Jesus Himself was being hurt by what was happening. Now you you might ask where the priest was ? What do you do when you see your own priest with serious congestive heart failure and couldn’t full fill all his priestly duties. I could say nothing. My job was to humbly serve him the best I could without question.
I feel as though I’m a real heel or odd ball in the crowd making the previous post. I loved my former job as sacristan so much.
It’s not simply something to be taken for granted when one is privileged not only to work within the walls of a Roman Catholic Church. But more so to feel your heart in a state of awe working on the Holy Sanctuary in proximity with the Holy of Holies, the very Presence of Christ Himself hidden from human eyes in the Tabernacle. How many people take the sanctuary for granted when it can be verily compared to Holy Ground where Moses himself stood in God’s holy presence. For there inside the Tabernacle is the Burning Bush.
My heart really hurts terrible witnessing such atrocities of neglect with the caliber and degree that I had to look upon for a number of years. As I said before I loved my job. It became not my second home but the first HOME of my heart.
Maybe I should have never related what I witnessed and kept it to myself. Not sure if there are others who have witnessed liturgical abuses that I have seen because I speak the truth with God as my witness. I know that the hurt I feel in this is nothing compared to what Jesus must feel in His Sacred Heart.
But these liturgical abuses need to be heard.
And we the laity carry part of that guilt for doing and saying nothing passively.
Years ago I remember hearing Father John Corapi speak about the atrocities of abortion that takes place every year in the U.S. and Canada. He said; how many multi-Millions of Catholics sit around passively saying nothing against abortion ?
I assure you he said; if these same millions of passive Catholics got down on their knees and prayed the Rosary for your priest’s and against abortion, there would be NO ABORTION and the Liturgical problems we have today in our Churches and our countries.
At some parishes, the ladies in the Altar Society do essentially all the cleaning, washing and sewing for the parish, including maintaining (and sometimes even making) the altar linens and vestments. They also raise money for the material needs of the altar.
When it comes to the vestments and altar linens themselves, though, this is a specialized job that is usually handled by one or two individuals particularly trained to do it, even when it is the Altar Society that does this job in the parish. The greater part of the Altar Society membership cleans the church, does the fundraising, and sometimes does the flowers, too.