For information concerning the Usher Ministry, contact:
Steve Borusovic at: firstname.lastname@example.org
History of Usher/Greeters in the Catholic Church
The ministry of usher/greeters is the oldest lay ministry in the Catholic Church. In the old Testament usher/greeters were called “gatekeepers.” Their ministry was so important that they were given living quarters in the temple.
According to I Chronicles 9, their duties included opening the temple every morning, providing care and protection for all the precious vessels, preparing certain food items used in ritual sacrifices, and guarding the temple. By the time of Christ, these gatekeepers had become known as the “Temple Guard.” They were ordered to arrest Jesus, but according to John 7 they instead became interested in Jesus’ message.
By the third century A.D., a clerical order known as “porters” (overseers of the doors) was instituted. During those times, it was the duty of the porters, or usher/greeters, to guard the door of the church against any intruders who might disturb the service. The porters’ duties were so important that they came to be included in the rite of ordination, where they were to ring the bells, open the church, and to open the book for the pastor. In 1972 Pope Paul VI abolished the order of porter and this important task was given over to the laity.
While today’s usher/greeters don’t ring the bells or open the church, their primary duties and responsibilities include greeting and welcoming parishioners as they enter the church, helping them to find seats, taking up the collection and wishing to everyone a good day at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Celebration.
Ushers are the first exposure of church attendees to our liturgies. As such, we want to greet people with a welcoming attitude to our church. This includes answering any questions they may have, assisting them in finding seating, if required, and identifying people with mobility issues who may need to have the Eucharistic brought to their seats.
In addition, ushers also assist in the smooth flow of the liturgy, by assisting the sacristan with Mass setup, as needed and identifying people to carry the Offertory gifts. Ushers also take the Offertory collection and direct the traffic flow for reception of Holy Communion. In addition, ushers count the number of people at Mass and enter the number in the log book in the sacristy. At the conclusion of Mass, they also pass out the church bulletins while wishing attendees a pleasant day, take the collection basket and transfer donations into plastic envelopes which we mark with date and Mass time, seal the envelope and place in the safe and finally, assist the sacristan with lock up if required.