What do I do about an usher who injured my dad?

Last Saturday our parish started posting hospitality ministers (HMs) at each entrance so that once the priest walks in to begin Mass they will not allow the late faithful in until he has reached the altar. My elderly mother and father were a few minutes late and decide to ignore the guards at the door and take their seats like they have for the past 26 years. My mother makes it past the guard but my father was not so lucky. The HM grabbed him by his left arm and swung him around. Dad’s arm hurt all weekend. He’s had surgery on his knees in the past and so, because of the pulling, his legs hurt also.

I sent an email to the deacon and pastor; only the deacon responded and apologized for the “misunderstanding,” but said, “however if it had been my dad I would have brought it to our attention sooner than waiting two days.” For one I was out of town and am so glad I was because if I had been there when it happened that so-called hospitality minister would have been on the floor. I know that doesn’t sound very Catholic but who would let someone hurt his elderly parents? Even if I saw that happening to someone else in our parish.

I sympathize with your upset and concern for your parents. Certainly the hospitality minister reacted inappropriately and the deacon was less than tactful in addressing your email. Perhaps though, you might want to take a look at the situation from another point of view.

I very much doubt that the hospitality minister intended to hurt your father. He was probably annoyed that your parents were both ignoring the new guidelines that latecomers should wait until after the processional to enter the nave and ignoring his subsequent attempt to gain their attention. (Note please your report that your parents “decide[d] to ignore the guards at the door” and that your mother “[made] it past the guard but [your] father was not so lucky,” which appears to indicate a deliberate refusal to acknowledge a legitimate attempt to ask them to wait for a few moments.) Out of annoyance, the HM then tried to command attention by grabbing your father’s arm, which unintentionally resulted in pain for your father.

I very much agree that the HM reacted inappropriately in grabbing your father. He should have simply allowed your parents to go and then reported the matter to the pastor after Mass, and suggested to the pastor that parishioners be reminded that the guidelines are in place for a reason (respect for the liturgy) and asked for their cooperation with the HMs. In light of what happened with your parents, I would also say that all of the hospitality ministers should be given training in how to appropriately respond to such disputes in the future.

But I hope you will agree now that your parents weren’t entirely without blame here. Had they responded courteously to the HM and cooperated with the new guidelines in place to foster respect for the liturgy, the situation would not have escalated as it did. In light of this, perhaps everyone can agree that all were wrong here and resolve to find solutions that do not include threatening to assault a person who makes a regrettable mistake but has not acted out of malice.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.