What are the duties of a liturgist?

Can someone explain to me the duties of a liturgist?

Do you mean a reader at Mass?

Destruction, usually.


A liturgist is in charge of the liturgy. In a parish the chief liturgist is the pastor. In a diocese the chief liturgist is the bishop. As needed they may delegate certain duties to other people. For example, the selection of music may be delegated to the choir director, but they retain the overall responsibility.


No that is a lecture. A liturgist should be a person who coordinates the mass between all involved.

I['m a Liturgist and also the CHoir Director

Have a degree in Catholic THeology and 25 years experience as such.
I make sure the liturgical books are open and ready for Masses, that the Sacristans are aware of special needs, that the Prayer Intentions are to Father’s liking, I write pulpit announcements, review the plans of the Environmental committee (altar flowers, and funeral pall people, Altar Society people, etc) oversee the Lectors, EMHC and train them annually, order the various seasonal prayerbooks and publications that we give to the parishioners, order palms, keep the incense stocked, reader trining books, arrange for and conmmunicate with the priests who come to give parish Missions twice a year, etc etc. Need to know ore?
Sometimes we want the giving envelopes redesigned, etc.Arrange for refinishing of ciboria or other items that need it, etc.


WOW! I didn’t know there was an official person in a parish who did this. We have Sacristans that do a lot of this but it’s all volunteers who are “Trained” by those before them. Actually most of this falls to the Parish Secretary, Father’s personal assistant, the various Sacristans and anything financially related is discussed and approved by Father and the Parish Council. So WOW you do the “jobs” of many people. We have NO full time person in charge of choir. One man had done it for years because he had special training in Liturgical music. But he gave it up for personal reasons. Then a lady volunteered when she could but she has family health issues. Mainly we don’t have music often and when we do it is from a group of parishioners that volunteer when they can and want to. We are a small parish.

In my parish we only have one priest. He’s overworked and prefers to be visiting the sick, counseling people, hearing confessions and leave the day to day ops regarding Liturgy to me, The Parish Administrator does the office stuff.
He created this as a full-time position for me because of my prior work at the Chancery, with many other priests, and he needed a new Choir director and I requested full time and benefits. So it works for all of us. I did all of this in my previous parish as a volunteer, but I find that it’s far easier for people to kick up a fuss if the person is not given the stamp of approval by the pastor Otherwise, people tend to abuse you because they don’t perceive that you are simply ensuring the priests preferences are put into practice. They think it’s all your own personal invention. Nope. No, it’s not. We receive direction from the Pastor. Sometimes he asks for my opinion, but sometimes he just tells me what he wants to happen.


You left out one element that I consider essential and that is having a sufficient knowledge of liturgy and the sacraments to know what changes are needed at various times. For example, there’s a baptism at the 11am Mass–what changes need to be made. There’s RCIA at the 9am Mass. What does that mean week by week (like a dismissal) and year by year (like even though we.are in year B or C we will use the readings for year A because of the scrutinies). Each Mass may have unique elements.


After I left for another job 7 years ago they hired two kids from the local college who were Baptist to play and run the choir
Well, it was a disaster, Nice young men, very good people, but no clue about Catholic Masses, proper liturgical music, and not much ability to accompany. But they hardly paid anything either.
People want and expect a lot, but parishes fail to pay qualified people.
We see people gripe about music sometimes on CAF, and most of the time little effort has been put into selecting that leadership.
That old adage about “you get what you pay” for is often very true.
If your musicians are good, make sure they feel appreciated! :wink:


Thank you so much for the insight

I see here a good example of subsidiarity. You have a unique convergent of talents and needs which leads for a solution tailored to your parish.


Whatever their boss assigns to them.

There is no official Catholic “job” of liturgist.


It certainly depends on the parish and its size. This may be one person or many people. It may be paid people or volunteers.

In our parish it’s me and my husband. We are volunteers, not paid staff.


Generally parishes hire staff, (most often well qualified staff) and gives them duties as the pastor sees fit. The pastor of a parish is the liturgist.

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Some parishes, see above, have hired staff with the title of liturgist. As with all parish staff, they work at the discretion of the Pastor. This one leaves and the next Pastor comes along he may decide he does not want a hired liturgist.

My point is there is not an official book that comes down from “on high” with the staff liturgist job description.

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Which is why we have very common positions of hired staff in our parish, business manager, parish secretary, DRE, and director of youth ministry. Our parish secretary is really more of personal assistant to our priest. She does all the scheduling of parish events, announcements, prayer intentions and makes sure everything is in its place for Father. She is the one that ensures the parish runs the way it should.

I think having common positions such as ours is a bit of job security, of course as long as we are doing our jobs.

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Of course there is

In your parish there is, in some parishes there is, your Bishop may require every parish to hire one, you may have never been to a parish that does not have a staff liturgist. Each of those situations there would be a job description written by that “boss” and those duties be assigned to that staffer. That still does not mean that there is a master job description that comes down from the Vatican.

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We have a parish of 2 Churches:

Paid parish secretary
Paid personal assistant to Father who also doubles as DRE
Paid book keeper
A lady sets up the bulletin from her home (don’t know whether she’s paid or not)
The office has a volunteer come in on the 2 days a week that they are open to help the paid staff get everything done.
Volunteer Sacristans at both Churches.
Appointed unpaid parish council.
NO paid (that I know of) musical director. All volunteers.

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