Guidelines For Greeters and Ushers
1. Recent understandings and study about the nature of the worship assembly have given a new significance and status to the role of usher or greeter. In former times, the collection of money and the order-keeping function of the role took precedence over other functions, because these others had ceased to exist in the minds of many church people.
2. Yours is the role of "official" host - someone whose presence, conversations, and actions speak a genuine desire that all that come to the liturgical event enjoy their time together.
3. In other words, we need to create a home-like atmosphere. The greeter, acting on behalf of the parish family, is decisive in creating a climate of hospitality and friendliness among the people gathering to celebrate the liturgy. Creating an atmosphere conducive to the act of worship requires a new and delicate skill for the greeter. Trying to make people (people you know and don't know) feel that you are glad they came and that their presence is important for what is about to take place. Greeters bring to their position a strong sense of ministry.
4. Greeters convey to the worshippers their first impression, which can result in a positive or negative attitude of the person entering in this particular Mass. A greeter serves as a bridge between people's lived experience and the atmosphere of our Mass. Greeters serve at the door of the church as the people come in to greet them, handout songbooks, etc.
5. The foundation of an greeter's preparation is prayer. Your work begins, continues, and accomplishes its ultimate purpose in prayer. This gives people a symbol, which represents the Church; a warm, friendly, respectful love of Christ. Your first contact (voice) should convey this to the parishioners, so as not to give the impression of being bored, anxious, or unconcerned.
6. Regularity and promptness are very important. Try to arrive at least twenty minutes before Mass. It gives you a chance to see that everything is ready and time to prepare yourself with prayer. If you cannot make your Mass please try to get a substitute because your ministry is important. It gives a sense of familiarity and dependability.
7. Be sensitive to other greeters--being friendly to them also, they are a part of your team and fellow servants.
8. Tend carefully to each member of the parish family you meet, for they are God's own sons and daughters--no matter if they are rich or poor, unshaven or clean, black or white, young or old. Our faith tells us they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
9. Be sensitive to what will make the parishioner feel at home in God's house and a part of our parish family. This could include special help in seating the handicapped, a woman advanced in pregnancy, an elderly person, or a stranger to the community (especially if they seem all alone and kind of "lost". It might be good to introduce them to other parishioners so that they don't feel so alone).
10. If needed, try to seat people with others, so we don't have large empty sections. We want to have a sense of community, for we have come together as a parish family to worship.
11. There are better times or "breaks" in the liturgy to seat people. Other times such as during the readings or the homily or the Eucharistic Prayer are not these times. It is good to know where to seat the people and do it quietly so as not to disturb the flow of worship. (The best times to seat people are before each reading begins and before the gifts are brought up.)
12. Not everyone wants the personal attention of a greeter, so sensitivity is important to these people so not to embarrass them. A greeter or usher is very visible at times when there are needs, but at other times her/his presence is not obvious and withdrawn. (Try to seat anyone who is standing in the back. The best bet is to get them seated when they first come in--be gentle and positive, but firm. If they don't go, don't cause a scene over it because gentleness and sensitivity to different persons/ needs is the key.
13. Greeters like the rest of the parishioners are worshippers (in fact, leaders of worship), so they should not converse with one another or have other unnecessary movement that will be a source of distraction for others. Being attentive at the Mass says a lot about what the liturgy means to you. So, by your singing with everyone singing, listening with everyone listening is called for, and praying with everyone praying, will contribute towards our worship.
14. It is good to know what to do in case of emergency. Try to familiarize yourself with any nurses and emergency personnel and be able to spot them when they are at your Mass. You can go right to them if an emergency arises. We have an emergency kit by the doorway near the bathroom, including a cell phone that only can operate if "911" is dialed. There is water (and cups) in the bathroom. There is also a fire extinguisher for small fires inside the second set of front doors into church.
15. Prior to the liturgy, check to see that any materials to be used during it are available in sufficient quantity. You can work with the sacristan and the celebrant to make sure everything is ready in sufficient time before Mass begins.
16. Removal of trash, unnecessary papers, lost objects, songbooks, from the entire space used for worship should be done at the conclusion of each celebration and rechecked before a liturgy begins. Lost objects of any value should be taken to the sacristy for safekeeping. Should the ownership of any object be identifiable take it upon yourself to contact the owner. Keep the church clean. In this way it gives the idea that "somebody cares" (rather than "nobody cares”).
17. Check the holy water fonts and refill them if they need holy water. (You can check with one of the staff about this.)
18. During the kiss of peace be especially alert to the presence of newcomers or strangers in the assembly.Go to them and exchange a greeting. (If you know that someone is new to the community, try to introduce that person to at least one or two familiar members either before or after the Mass.) Meditation and silent reflection are important aspects and parts of liturgical celebrations, but it is not out of place at our Public Prayer to introduce people before Mass begins.
19. As the procession of the priest and the liturgical ministers leaves the church, offer to take from them whatever books they may have in their hands.
20. Weather permitting, prop open all doors for a more orderly departure of the people from the assembly (but not the outer doors in the cold weather). When there is a coffee hour after Mass, guide the people to that area.
21. Standing at the doorway of the church after the liturgy, hand out copies of any material to be distributed (bulletins, etc.) and from that position do the guiding mentioned before.
22. When the assembly has dispersed, close the doors and windows (unless another celebration follows). Please straighten out the seats and make sure everything looks as neat as at the beginning of the Mass.
23. Dress is an important sign of what you are doing. Each person should be dressed so as not to call attention to himself or herself. It should be something simple and tasteful. There is also a greeters pin that you are encouraged to wear.
The Psalmist speaks of his pleasure in being a "Doorkeeper in the House of the Lord" which you truly are. Your role--or better, your ministry--is one in which we are seeing its importance more than ever. You have first contact with the parishioners and in a real way set the atmosphere for worship. We hope this ministry will continue to develop at our faith community so that these ideas will continue to be a reality. It will take time but with prayer and God' s grace "we can do a all things in Him who strengthens us." There is a prayer that captures this and one, which could be said by our greeters before each Mass: "Be with me Lord as I greet in Your name. May your Spirit of wisdom and love be upon me as I gratefully serve in Your house of prayer. Amen." We feel our greeters do a wonderful job serving our parish family.These thoughts are given for your reflection so that we can strive for excellence and do the best we possibly can. Thanks for your time and help. Thank you for sharing your gift of ministry with our parish.
The collection of money offerings is an important part of the Eucharistic celebration. It is also a time of hospitality so that no one should feel embarrassed. Please don't begin to move to take up the collection until the priest finishes the final prayer of the petition prayers. Please try to see that a sufficient number of ushers is on hand so that the action takes place smoothly and quietly as possible, but people shouldn't feel rushed either. Four ushers at each Mass are sufficient. More ushers might be needed at times like Christmas and Easter.
We would like the collection to be brought with the gifts of wine and water. We will try to time it so that the altar servers don't go to the back table until the collection is almost finished.
The new General Instruction of the Roman Missal ("GIRM") states that there are only two times for people to genuflect during the mass. In the beginning of the Mass, when the priest and the liturgical ministers reach the steps of the sanctuary and at the end of the Mass, when the priest and liturgical ministers leave the sanctuary. Other times during the liturgy the proper response is to bow. So when coming to the front of the church to begin the collection or when bringing up the basket to the priest or deacon, the proper response now is to bow rather than genuflect.