Saint Dominic's Catholic Church, Torrance

A Guide for Pass-keepers
The information on this page was scanned from a handbook produced for St. Paul's, Milton of Campsie.
The handbook was issued some time ago but much of what it says is still relevant today.
The ordained priest serves the People of God by a special Ministry: he alone has the right and duty to preside at the Eucharist: he alone has power to change the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ: he alone has the power to administer most of the Sacraments: But when God's People are gathered together for Mass, or Sacraments, or any other kind of worship, the priest is not the only one with a job to do. Apart from any other consideration. the priest cannot do it all, and when he tries to, it detracts from the dignity of the liturgy.
So there are other Ministers, members of the People of God who serve the whole People of God in a particular way. Some are specially commissioned to give Holy Communion, either in Church or to the sick in their homes. Some are Ministers of the Word of God, the Readers. Altar Servers are Ministers: they may think they serve the priest: in fact they serve the People of God by ensuring the smooth and dignified running of all our celebrations.

Pass-keepers are Ministers too. Their job is to make the People of God welcome and in general ensure that everything in the body of the church is as it should be

It is a Lay Liturgical Ministry:
Lay: in the sense that is open to any man or woman who belongs to God's People by Baptism.
Liturgical: because it is part of the public worship of the Church.
Ministry: because it is a service to the People of God: a service which in the past was dignified by a clerical order.
Perhaps the simplest way to think about a Lay Ministry is as a job in its on right. It is not a wee favour to the priest. It becomes your job. your responsibility. It becomes your way of taking part in the liturgy.

Three further points:
It is a service, not an honour or a reward. It is important to stress this! When we ask you to do this work, we are not saying to you or to anybody that you are the perfect Catholic. Maybe you are, but it is dangerous to make such claims. We are not putting you in the firing line, to be shot down by criticism. All we are saying is that we feel we can trust you to do the job well, and we hope you will be willing to accept the responsibility.
2. It would not be right to call for volunteers, because it is service to the Community. Pass-keepers should be positively chosen for the job. A community which depends exclusively on volunteers for a ministry (any ministry), is publicly stating that it doesn't care who does the job.
3. It is a Ministry that can in many cases be shared by the whole family. We are not looking for volunteers, and every family situation is different, so the call has to be to an individual. But when others in the family are suitable and willing, you can draw them into your ministry especially by asking them to keep an eye open in your area of the parish, or to act as your substitute when you cannot make it to a particular Mass yourself. Husbands and wives certainly can share the ministry; older brothers and sisters who live in the same household; and younger members of the family too. But we must fix a minimum age: say, sixteen, the age when they can leave school and get a job, and be Sponsors at Baptism and Confirma

General qualities required in Pass-keepers:
1. A sense of Liturgy.
2. A sense of Community.

The word Liturgy means work of the people: in this case the work is Worship, the people are God's People gathered together. So a sense of Liturgy and a sense of Community are not two separate things. A sense of Liturgy is a sense of belonging to the Community at worship, and understanding what the People are doing as they worship God together.
Pass-keepers have been known to give the impression [not in this parish) that they are a class apart: they don't quite belong to the congregation. They are like ushers in a Cinema who have seen the film a hundred times before. They hang around until they are needed, spring into action for a few minutes and then slip back into their lethargy.
This is not the way it should be:
the whole People, including the Pass-keepers, worship God, the whole People offer the Mass, celebrate the Eucharist.
The Pass-keepers give and receive with the rest of the community.
But it is more than joining in with them; as Pass-keepers, you make it possible for them to join in. Your Ministry is to enable all the People to play their full part in the liturgy: everything to do with the comfort and needs of the congregation is the concern of the Pass-keepers. It is your Ministry to provide for these needs.
To be able to do this, you need some knowledge and understanding of the structure of the Mass. A Missal can be instructive there, though you may need some help to get started using it. There are other books and pamphlets to read. Study groups or discussion groups can be useful. You've got to know what is happening. You must be sensitive to the rhythm of the Mass: aware of the quiet moments, the intense moments, the momentary breaks when one part is finished and the next not quite started, the times you can move to do something. the times when everything should be perfectly still. You need a sense of occasion: dignity always, solemnity when required.


1. The Pass-keepers should be instantly recognisable, so, when you are on duty, always wear your badge of office.2. It is your job as Pass-keeper's to see that everything is ready for the People of God.
a. Arrive in plenty of time to spend a few moments in prayer, be-fore checking everything.
b. Prepare the baskets [keep them under the table].
c. Check that the hymn-books are out. If not. (and if they are going to be used] put them out or be ready to give them to the People as they come in.
d. Make sure the gifts [the bread and wine) for the Offertory are on the table [and nothing else: no handbags, newspapers, gloves, baskets, etc)
e. Check ventilation, heat. If the People are wilting with the heat, open the windows [even during Mass). If they are freezing, close the windows. In the cold weather. make sure the outside doors don't get fixed open.
f. Always switch on the light and fan in the Cry-room.
g. Be ready for emergencies: have a glass of water ready; know where to find first aid kit, fireextinguishers etc.
h. Normally the amplifier will be switched on by the servers, but know how to do it, just in case.
i. Check with the priest for any special instructio
3. It is your job as Pass-keeper's to welcome the People of God.
a. Be at the door to speak to People as they come in. There should be an atmosphere of welcome in the porch, and this requires the presence of more than one Pass-keeper. (But don't force your attentions on People who would rather slip in quietly.)
b. Keep an eye open for strangers: make a point of speaking to them. This may be hard for some of you, but a smile and Hello! can be enough. (It is especially hard at the 4.30 pm Mass, where often nearly everyone is a stranger.) Escort them to a seat, if this seems helpful; offer them a bulletin.
c. Also keep a look-out for the Catholics [especially the new ones] who live in your own district of the Parish. Make a point of saying Hello! to them.
d. Notice the presence of the elderly and/or handicapped. and be aware of their needs.
e. Notice the families with young children. If you get the chance, encourage them to sit near the Cry-room, not in it. The Cry-room is too small for families to take up residence in it. It is intended for a parent to take a child there only as long as the child is making too much noise.
f. It may not have any effect, but it should be policy, when the occasion presents itself, to suggest to people to fill up the Church from the front, instead of from the back.
g. Make sure that a family or group is chosen for the Offertory Procession: normally two for the bread and wine and two pass-keepers for the baskets.
h. When required, give out hymn-books, bulletins, or other booklets or leaflets.
i. Be aware that emergencies are possible: make a mental note of people who may be able to help: for example, doctors or nurses.

1. The Pass-keepers are part of the Community. What they do and how they do it should re-inforce the atmosphere of worship and not distract from it.
a. Stand, kneel, sit, pray, listen, respond, sing with the whole People, and, when necessary, give a lead.
b. The seats in the cross-aisle are reserved for the Passkeepers. Remain in position, except when a specific job has to be done.
c. Do not treat latecomers as a nuisance! Be courteous to them! But, if you can, persuade them to wait for the right moment to troop in: e.g. not during a Prayer, or a Reading, or a moment of silent prayer. A good time to direct them to their seats would be after the Opening Prayer and before the first Reading -- the Reader should wait for them to settle -- or after the Gospel and before the Sermon. Direct them, if they are willing, to the nearest possible seats. The ideal would be to reserve some back seats for late-comers, but we don't have enough back seats.
2. The Offertory: This is one part of the Mass everybody associates with Pass-keepers.
a. The Collection must take as little time as possible. This is achieved, not by rushing, but by being well organized and employing as many Pass-keepers and baskets as possible. It is especially importaht at Masses with no singing. because then the Collection breaks the continuity of the Mass, and it can seem endless.
b. Don't rush or embarrass anyone during the Collection.
c. Make sure that the Offertory Procession is formed without de-lay. As soon as all is ready get the procession under way. [On occasions like Weddings, Funerals, etc., when there may be an Offertory Procession, but no collection, it may be necessary to keep them at the back till the second verse of the hymn. It depends on the circumstances, but sometimes the procession is over before half of the first verse is sung.)
d. The bread and wine come last in the Procession, because last is the correct position for the most important persons or gifts. The baskets are at the front for practical reasons: 51. the Pass-keepers can set the pace and give the others confidence about where to go and what to do; 52. the baskets are handed over first and are put in their place, so that, when the priest and servers receive the bread and wine, they can take them straight to the altar and get on with the Mass.
e. Those who took part in the procession genuflect together, and return to their places.
f. If the bread and wine are not to be carried in the procession, two Pass-keepers bring up the baskets in the usual way.

3. The Communion: the Pass-keepers may occasionally be required to direct the People during the Communion. But don't develop a "Traffic Cop" mentality!
a. The People come down the centre aisle in single file, and re-turn to their seats by the side aisles. Most People are used to this arrangement and there is no need for Pass-keepers to intervene.
b. If there are two Priests or a Priest and a Special Minister, the People come down the centre aisle in two lines. This too does not usually require the intervention of Pass-keepers.
c. Just keep an eye open for possible difficulties, and intervene only when necessary.
d. On special occasions, if different arrangements are made, the Pass-keepers will be told.

a. The Second Collection:

§1. It is taken up during the final hymn, starting from the back of the Church and moving forward.
When it is finished, those who are designated take the baskets immediately to their destination.
§2. When there is no singing, take up the Second Collection standing at the Church doors as the People go out.
Use your voice: draw their attention by saying, "Building Fund Collection" or "Special Collection" or whatever is appropriate. Don't give them the chance to pretend they haven't noticed you, but do it with humour and without any
intention of embarrassing or forcing people. Immediately the Collection is over, those who are designated take the
baskets to their destination.
b. Be at the doors as the people go out (even when there is no second collection). You welcomed the People to the
Church; send them happily on their way. Be hospitable right to the end.
c. Once again keep an eye open for anyone who may need assistance.
d. If there is anything on after Mass, e.g. Saint Paul's Repository, tea in the hall, a petition to sign, or tickets on sale,
draw the People's attention to it. A mention in the notices is soon forgotten.
e. Those who are designated to deal with the money, remove the baskets from under the Altar and take them together with the Second Collection directly to their destination.
f. Tidy up the Church and prepare it for the next Mass: remove lit-ter, gather abandoned bulletins, tidy the hymn-books in the seats or, if they will not be needed again, gather them up and put them away.
g. Switch off the light and fan in the Cry-room.
h. Check that the toilets are in order: if needed, replace toilet rolls, switch out the lights (the fans go on for another 20 minutes.)
These instructions have been about Sunday Masses. However, many of the more general points apply to any celebration you may attend. In particular:
1. At Weekday Masses and at Devotions: make sure the People get any books or leaflets that are needed. Ask if there are any special arrangements.
2. At Funerals there are usually quite a number of strangers who need to be directed or escorted to seats. It may be necessary to organise or help with the Offertory Procession, to open and shut doors, and, after the funeral has left the Church, to put out candles, remove chalice, cruets, trestles, etc to Sacristy. (Don't move the Easter Candle till you are sure the wax has hardened.] Shut the sacristy doors.
3. At Weddings they usually have members of the family as ushers, often teenagers. I always hope that an experienced Pass-keeper will be there to help and to keep order if necessary. We have had trouble and noise during weddings because of youngsters hanging around for the scramble. For this reason I have forbidden scrambles in the Church grounds, but
that does not seem to stop them.

1. The duties of Pass-keepers as outlined in this book, especially at the end of Sunday Mass, will normally require four Passkeepers to be present rather than just two.
2. For this reason, the Pass-keepers are divided into teams of more than the required number. This should allow for holidays and other reasons for absence.
3. Each Mass will be allocated to a team of Pass-keepers. The Head Pass-keeper will be responsible for this allocation.
4. The team leader will be responsible for ensuring that enough members of his team are present.
5. Each member of a team is responsible for keeping the leader informed when he/she cannot be present.
6. If necessary, teams or individual members can arrange an exchange with other teams.

One of the biggest problems for Pass-keepers is the handling of money. I have never had any reason to mistrust any of our Pass-keepers. But it is essential for your own sakes to follow a strict procedure. Offertory baskets just occasionally have been left, for-gotten, under the Altar; or the Second Collection has lain too long in the porch, a temptation to anyone who is passing.
1. Money must be handled so publicly that no Pass-keeper ever comes under suspicion and no one else can get access to it.
2. For this reason, the removal of money to its designated place in the house should normally be carried out by two Pass-keepers together.
3. It should be done immediately after Mass. However, if there are not enough Pass-keepers for other essential duties, it may be necessary to put the money temporarily in a safe place in the Sacristy.
4. The Senior Pass-keeper present is primarily responsible for seeing that the security procedures are carried out.
5. Be careful: NEVER MIX Offertory and Second Collections when putting the money away.

Not a place to keep spare Pass-keepers but somewhere for all the things that Pass-keepers sometimes need, but never have; for ex-ample: first aid kit, stretcher, wheelchair, blanket, lost and found, "Reserved" signs, pens, paper tissues, sick-cleaning materials. An inventory should be displayed in the cupboard. The Head Pass-keeper is responsible for keeping the inventory up-to-date and also for re-stocking the cupboard when necessary.

1. A meeting of all the Pass-keepers should be held at least once a year.
2. Meetings of the group leaders may be needed more often, and, if necessary, may be arranged on a regular basis.


When the Sign of Peace was reintroduced, it was not possible any more to separate the Community at Mass from the Community out-side. This is why it was so difficult for many of us. Of course, it is still possible outside of Mass to ignore the people we prayed beside,,but, having shaken hands with them and wished them peace, we are bound to be just a little more aware of their existence, and maybe feel a little guilty about ignoring them. The Church does not exist only on Sundays in the churchbuilding.

It is common now to hear Catholics talk about going to Church on Sunday. It is not correct. We are the Church. The Church gathers for Sunday Mass. So Catholics go to Mass on Sundays.
The Church you serve in the Liturgy still exists after everybody has gone home. If you, as a Passkeeper, take your ministry seriously, it is bound to spill over to other days and events. You can't walk away and ignore the people you get to know on Sundays. Some of them inevitably will come into your life during the week, as your friends or just meeting in the street. But it works both ways. The more people you get to know during the week, the better you will do your job on Sundays. You will have a better idea of their needs.

I have suggested that your sense of Liturgy is inseparable from your sense of Community; that some spill-over from Sundays to Week-days is a good thing, may be inevitable. What I would like to say is that it is essential.

People think that priests have changed; they don't do what priests used to do. Whatever the truth of this, it is definitely true that people have changed, patterns of living and working have changed. Villages like ours are no longer stable communities: people move in and out, sometimes without getting to know anybody. For many, their only practical interest in Milton of Campsie is an evening meal and a bed. For the Catholics among them, Saint Paul's is only one of a number of places to grab a Sunday Mass. If new parishioners come to 4.30 pm Mass, it is difficult to distinguish them from the strangers. Newcomers often show their face for the first time when they have a baby for Baptism; they remain visible for a few months, then move elsewhere. Under these circumstances here and in other parishes, it is increasingly difficult, often impossible, to foster a sense of belonging to a Parish.
More than anybody else, Passkeepers are in a position to see new-comers at Mass and to make them feel welcome (or unwelcome). You can play an essential part in building up a sense of Community, a sense of belonging to a Parish, by allowing your Liturgical Ministry to spill over into your daily lives in your own area of the parish.

1. Pass-keepers must be chosen from every district in the Parish.2. With your wives/husbands and families, you are invited to:
a. keep an eye open for Catholics moving in or out of your district;
b. let the priest know when Catholics move in or out of the Parish or change address within the Parish;
c. without imposing yourself on people, make yourself known to them, so that you are someone they recognise when they come to Mass;
d. point out to them or put them in touch with the other Catholics in the area;
e. let them know the times of Mass etc;
f. keep the ones who do not come to Mass in Saint Paul's in touch with the Parish (i.e. those who go elsewhere and those who go no-where): drop the Bulletin through their letterboxes (i can always make more if necessary);
g. be ready on occasions to distribute other leaflets, sale of work bags, or whatever;
h. if you hear of illness or problems, let the priest know about it (unless of course you were told in confidence).
This is not intended to impose a great burden of responsibility on you.
It does not commission you to be the organizer or leader of the Catholics in your area.
You are invited to continue to live your life as before, but to be a little more visible as a Catholic to the other Catholics in the district and to be a little more observant.

The handbook was lent by Mr & Mrs Ridgeway

God BlessYou!