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:
1. 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:
A. BEFORE MASS
1. A sense of Liturgy.
2. A sense of Community.
A SENSE OF LITURGY
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.
THE MINISTRY OF PASS-KEEPING IN SAINT DOMINIC'S
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
a. Arrive in plenty of time to spend a
few moments in prayer, be-fore checking everything.
b. Prepare the baskets [keep them under
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
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
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
d. Notice the presence
of the elderly and/or handicapped. and
be aware of their needs.
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.
B. DURING MASS
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
a. Stand, kneel, sit, pray, listen, respond,
sing with the whole People, and, when necessary, give a
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
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
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!
C. AT THE END OF MASS AND AFTERWARDS:
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
Church; send them happily on their way. Be hospitable right to
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
These instructions have been about Sunday Masses. However,
many of the more general points apply to any celebration you
may attend. In particular:
|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
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
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
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
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.
A SENSE OF COMMUNITY:
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
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.
FOSTERING A SENSE OF BELONGING:
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
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
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.