Ushers

Contact : Dn. Don Huntley at (805) 642-7966 ext. 147 or dhuntley@ola-vta.org


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Welcome to the Usher & Greeters Ministry at Our Lady of the Assumption!

Jesus said, "Whoever receives you, receives me, and whoever receives me receives the One who sent me" (Matthew 10:40). 

Your willingness to serve God in the capacity as an usher or greeter reflects your commitment to Christ. Your willingness to commit to a monthly schedule; to arrive on time and to be a friendly and welcoming presence to those coming to worship here at Our Lady of the Assumption is a further reflection of your commitment to serve this Parish. By assuring a welcoming presence and orderly seating at all Masses offered in this Parish, you enhance the beauty of the Liturgy and become an instrument through whom God may be present to those in worship.

Once you become a member of the Our Lady of the Assumption Usher and Greeter Ministry, you will be issued an identifying name tag signifying that you are an usher/greeter. Wear this usher/greeter’s badge humbly for it signifies that you have accepted the awesome privilege of not only welcoming people to the church, but being for others, a representative of a welcoming and gracious God!

Schedule

  • New schedule TBA

SECTION I

THE MINISTRY OF HOSPITALITY
The usher/greeter is a person chosen to reflect the warmth and welcome of Christ himself. Always conscious of Christ’s words "For I was…a stranger and you welcomed me," (Matthew 25:35) the usher/greeter serves not only as a Minister of Hospitality, but also as a Liturgical Minister and a Minister of Evangelism.
 
Usher/Greeters as Ministers of Hospitality
Usher/greeters are usually the first official representative of the church that people meet when they arrive. The usher/greeters' dress, attitude, words, demeanor, body language all speak a message to the worshiper. As God's servants to his people, usher/greeters should take care that nothing interferes with the awesome character of this encounter between God and his people at this time and place.
 
Usher/Greeters as Liturgical Ministers
Usher/greeters are leaders. As such they reflect the devotion, reverence and joy of encountering God in our worship service. Usher/greeters should not be physically or emotionally absent from worship. They must be mindful that they are there to assist those who are preparing to worship God by creating a quiet and reverent atmosphere within the church.
 
Usher/Greeters as Ministers of Evangelism
There are some who may be wary of coming to a church and it would take very little to make this visit their last. If they feel genuinely welcomed and helped by the usher/greeter, then the usher/greeter has assisted in bringing the Gospel to these people.


SECTION II

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
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.
 
The Role of the Usher/Greeter
The role of the usher/greeter is one of offering a friendly, welcoming presence to those coming to worship, of providing leadership during emergencies and performing such tasks as taking up the collection, presenting the gifts, assisting parishioners during Communion, disseminating the church bulletin and participating in cleaning the church after completion of the Mass.


SECTION III

MISSION STATEMENT
We believe that in our service to God, the mission of the usher/greeter in the
Eucharistic Celebration is to greet, assist and serve the worshiping community with joy, dependability, kindness and reverence.
 
An Usher/Greeter Should:
 
GREET, ASSIST AND SERVE

  • Be there. Remember that God's people need you and are depending on you.

  • Arrive early, at least 15 minutes before the time of the Mass. Give a moment to silent prayerful preparation for your ministry. Arrange all those things that need to be readied and then be on hand to greet the people as they arrive.

  • Be at your best. Look pleasant.

  • Make your first word a word of welcome. Keep on the lookout for new members of the Parish, for visitors, strangers, or the aged (anyone who may need special attention).

  • When you recognize newcomers…Help them to feel at home

An Usher/Greeter Should Exhibit:

  • JOY

    Cultivate a sense of humor in the face of difficulty. Never show irritation. Have a nonjudgmental attitude for those who may arrive late.

  • DEPENDABILITY

    If an usher/greeter cannot serve at a scheduled service, it is the usher/greeter’s responsibility to find a substitute, or at least let your usher/greeter captain know that you won't be there.

  • KINDNESS

    When you lead people up the aisle, walk slowly or you will lose them. Do not merely point to a seat, but lead people there personally.

  • REVERENCE

    There should be no conversations in the back of the church prior to Mass, least of all among the usher/greeters. Casual conversations by usher/greeters can be heard throughout the church and are distracting for those who are attempting to prepare themselves for the Liturgy.


SECTION IV

ACTIVITIES PERFORMED BY USHER/GREETERS AT MASS

Before the Mass

  • Plan on arriving at least 15 minutes before your scheduled Mass.

  • Wear your usher/greeter name tag so that it is visible to all those coming to worship.

  • Make a concerted effort to find different families to bring the gifts to the altar.

  • Once you have identified the gift bearers, they should be told to come to the rear of the church when the collection begins, so that they will be ready to come forward with the gifts at the appropriate time.

  • The usher/greeter captain is responsible for performing those activities identified later in this handbook. In addition, the captain is responsible for making any other assignments that may be necessary such as placing an usher/greeter at the main entrance to the church to open doors for those entering the church.

During the Mass

  • It is important that you know the appropriate time to seat latecomers so that so can    communicate this to those arriving late. Although Liturgical guidelines indicate it is inappropriate to seat latecomers during the opening prayer, while the Word of God is being proclaimed, during the Homily or the Prayers of the Faithful, at Our Lady of the Assumption it is common practice to seat latecomers at any time during the Mass except for when the Word of God is proclaimed.

  • The church collection is taken after the Prayers of the Faithful. During this collection all four or six usher/greeters will approach the altar and bow. The offertory is collected by two usher/greeters in the center aisle and one or two usher/greeters on each of the outer aisles using long handled baskets or regular baskets.

  • Once the offering has been collected all of the offering is to be placed in the basket that will be presented to the priest at the altar.

  • The gifts are then given to the gift bearers. If a family is not available to take the gifts to    the altar, then two of the usher/greeters should take them. When presenting the gifts to    the priest, the usher/greeters should bow and return to the rear of the church. When returning to the rear of the church, each usher/greeter should show reverence by holding his or her hands as if praying with fingers interlocked.

  • Placement of the church bulletins at each of the entrances to the church should be done    At some point after the Mass has begun, so that people aren’t reading them during Mass, but at a time which causes the least amount of distraction during the service. It is suggested that the most appropriate time to place the church bulletins is when the priest invites the children to come forward for their own gospel experience.

  • During Communion one usher/greeter will approach the altar and remain standing until the priest leaves the sanctuary. The usher/greeters at the front of the church will then direct people toward the center aisle to receive Communion. This will be done  on a pew by pew basis, beginning with the first pew and then working towards the rear of the church. One usher/greeter will remain in middle of the center aisle and direct people toward the center aisle to receive Communion. This will be done on a pew by  pew basis. Two ushers will monitor the left and right side aisles directing people seated       on each side toward the center aisle again on a pew by pew basis.

  • Included in the Appendix of this Handbook is a Communion diagram which shows the  placement of usher/greeters and the direction of flow for those receiving Communion at  special Masses where it is anticipated that there will be an overflow congregation.

  • Special Needs: It is not unusual for one or more worshipers to require that Eucharistic  Ministers serve Communion at their seat. An usher/greeter should escort the Eucharistic  Minister to persons requiring special needs.

After the Mass

  • Usher/greeters should not open the exterior main doors at the entrance of the church  until the recessional is at about the mid-point of the church. This is done for two  reasons. The first is that we don’t want to signal those attending Mass that it is   acceptable to leave before the priest leaves. The second reason is that opening the doors  too soon will result in unnecessary loss of heating during certain times of the year.  When it is warm weather the doors maybe left open to generate necessary ventilation.

  • Once the priest has left the altar, usher/greeters should go to their respective posts and  stand ready, with a warm smile, to distribute the church bulletin and to say goodbye to  those who came to worship. For those who are stationed at the rear side doors, it is   suggested the usher/greeters stand outside the doors to allow more room to clear the  doorways. Please remember not to block access to the Holy Water stations as people are  entering or leaving the church.

  • Once the people have left, the church needs to be cleaned. You should assist in  straightening up the pew areas by putting the hymnals back in the appropriate locations,  picking up what may be left behind in the pews and returning any stray bulletins to the  appropriate locations at the doors.


SECTION V

EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLAN

The health, safety and welfare of all persons are of the utmost concern. The guidelines provided below should be followed in the event of personal injury, illness or an emergency

Serious Injury or Illness

  1. Call 911 immediately and be prepared to answer pertinent questions about the situation.

  2. Remain calm and assist in maintaining order.

  3. Administer first aid as may be needed until paramedics arrive.

  4. Note any jewelry with medic alert information.

Minor Injuries

  1. Treat with simple first aid measures using a first aid kit which can be found in the usher/greeter room.

Explosion

In the event of an explosion in the building, take the following actions:

  1. Immediately take cover to protect against flying glass and debris.

  2. After the effects of the explosion have subsided, call 911 and be prepared to answer

    pertinent questions about the situation.

  3. Evacuate the immediate area of the explosion. An evacuation plan is included in the

    Appendices of this Handbook.

  4. Seek and assist injured and disabled people evacuating the building.

  5. Once outside keep roadways and walkways clear for emergency vehicles.

  6. Wait for further instructions from emergency personnel. Do not re-enter the building unless instructed to do so by emergency personnel.

Fire

Know the location of fire extinguishers in the church and how to use them.
If you discover a small fire, take the following steps:

  1. Promptly discharge the fire extinguisher toward the base of the flames.

  2. Immediately call 911 for assistance if necessary.

If you discover a large fire, take the following actions:
Alert the other usher/greeters and assign responsibility to each usher/greeter for the following actions.

  1. One usher/greeter will be responsible for calling 911

  2. One usher/greeter will be responsible for alerting the congregation

  3. One usher/greeter will assist the wheel chair bound and elderly persons through the nearest exit doors

  4. One usher/greeter will open the remaining exit doors to facilitate evacuation of the church to the designated areas.

In alerting the congregation, the following instructions should be given:

You should all remain calm. A fire has been spotted and emergency personnel have been notified. We must evacuate the church. The front half of the church should exit from the two front exits and the back half of the church should exit from the rear exits. Fire safety officials recommend that all persons gather in Assumption Hall to help family members and friends find one another. Please move quickly since emergency personnel will be arriving soon. Remember to remain calm.


SECTION VI

DUTIES OF THE USHER/GREETER MINISTRY LEADER

Duties of the Leader
The Leader shall preside at all meetings of the members and in general perform all duties as may be prescribed by the general membership from time to time. The Leader will assist in recruiting usher/greeters, contact team captains to provide necessary information, and work with the Pastor to assure that the usher/greeter ministry is providing services in an acceptable manner.


SECTION VII

DUTIES OF THE CAPTAINS AND USHER/GREETER ASSIGNMENTS

Duties of the Captain

The Captain shall:

  • Call each of his team members prior to the beginning of each month of service to remind them that they are scheduled to serve and to ask if they are aware of any scheduling conflicts that would prevent them from serving at any point during the month.

  • verify that each of the usher/greeters present has checked in with the team captain.

  • coordinate emergency operations pursuant to the Emergency Response Plan.

  • make additional assignments to the members of his team as may become necessary during the Mass.

Usher Assignments

Each usher/greeter will be assigned to one of the following positions: Right Aisle One
(RA1) and Right Aisle Two (RA2), Center Right Aisle (CRA), Center Left Aisle (CLA) and Left Aisle One (LA1) and Left Aisle Two (LA2). As one looks from the rear of the church to the altar, the RA will work the furthest right aisle and the LA will work the furthest left aisle. The position assignment dictates those activities that will be performed by the respective usher/greeters during the Mass and emergency situations. The position assignments will be rotated on a regular basis, thereby giving all usher/greeters an opportunity to work at each station. The rotation will be from right to left as one looks at the altar. For example, the usher/greeter assigned to RA would have the following rotation.

  • First / RA1

  • Second / RA2

  • Third / CRA

  • Fourth / CLA

  • Fifth / LA1

  • Sixth / LA2

Greeter Assignments

Each greeter will be assigned to one of the following positions and they should be there at least 15 minutes prior to the start of Mass: Right Rear Door (RRD) and Left Rear Door (LRD), Rear Center Door (RCD), Parking Lot Door (PLD), and Rectory Side Door (RSD). The position assignments will be rotated on a regular basis, thereby giving all greeters an opportunity to work at each station. The rotation will be from right to left. For example, the greeter assigned to RRD would have the following rotation:

  • First / RRD

  • Second / LRD

  • Third / RCD

  • Fourth / PLD

  • Fifth / RSD

The schedule will denote the position assignment for each week so the usher/greeter, or his substitute, will know which position he has been assigned and what activities he will perform during the Mass.

Activities of the Right Aisle

The RA1 will be responsible for:

  • seating those who wish to be seated from the right aisle.

  • blocking the right aisle during the reading of the Gospel.

  • collecting the offertory from the right aisle. This will require that the RA1 be the lead    usher when the usher comes forward for the offertory.

  • working the right aisle at the front of the church during Communion.

  • placing the bulletins next to the Holy Water station at the right rear door of the church    and in the wall mounted bracket near the right front door of the church.

  • handing out bulletins at the right rear door of the church.

  • assisting in cleaning the church after the Mass.

  • performing those actions required for this position under the Emergency Response Plan.

The RA2 will be responsible for:

  • collecting the offertory from the right aisle side wing.

  • assisting RA1 with the right aisle at the front of the church during Communion.

  • handing out bulletins at the Rectory Side Door.

  • assisting in cleaning the church after the Mass.

  • performing those actions required for this position under the Emergency Response Plan.

Activities of the Center Right Aisle

The CRA will be responsible for:

  • working with the CLA in seating those who wish to be seated from the center aisle.

  • blocking the right center aisle during the reading of the Gospel.

  • collecting the offertory from the center right aisle.

  • working the center aisle at the front of the church during Communion.

  • handing out bulletins at the right front main entrance door to the church.

  • performing those actions required for this position under the Emergency Response Plan.

Activities of the Left Aisle

The LA1 will be responsible for:

  • seating those who wish to be seated from the left aisle.

  • blocking the left aisle during the reading of the Gospel.

  • collecting the offertory from the left aisle. This will require that the LA1 be the lead

       usher when the usher comes forward for the offertory.

  • working the left aisle at the front of the church during Communion.

  • placing the bulletins next to the Holy Water station at the left rear door of the church

       and in the wall mounted bracket near the left front door of the church.

  • handing out bulletins at the left rear door of the church.

  • assisting in cleaning the church after the Mass.

  • performing those actions required for this position under the Emergency Response Plan.

The LA2 will be responsible for:

  • collecting the offertory from the left aisle side wing including the Crying Room.

  • assisting LA1 with the left aisle at the front of the church during Communion.

  • handing out bulletins at the Parking Lot Door.

  • assisting in cleaning the church after the Mass.

  • performing those actions required for this position under the Emergency Response Plan.


SECTION VIII

USHER/GREETERS MINISTRY PROCEDURAL MATTERS

Membership
Membership into the Usher/Greeters’ Ministry will be conducted in the following manner. A prospective candidate will submit a request for membership to the ministry Leader. The applicant will be reviewed by the Leader and the Pastor if approved by the Pastor or his designee, the applicant will be invited to attend the next scheduled meeting of the Usher/Greeters Ministry. At that meeting, the applicant will be introduced to the members.

Scheduling
A rotating three-month Mass Service Schedule is maintained on the church web site. The Mass Service Schedule identifies those usher/greeters who are scheduled to serve for the current month and for the next two months. The purpose of using a rotating three-month calendar is to give usher/greeters as much advance notice so they can make arrangements to have a substitute present in the event of a conflict with their schedule. The schedule also identifies one usher/greeter who will serve as captain of the team for that team’s month of service. In addition to maintaining this schedule on the web site, hard copies of the Mass Service Schedule are available in the usher/greeters room or by email.

Training
At least once in any 3-month period, all usher/greeters should receive training as to how they will execute their duties. In addition, all usher/greeters will be trained in how to respond to various emergency situations. The Leader will, from time to time, schedule the necessary training sessions. All new usher/greeters must receive their training prior to being scheduled to serve. Any usher/greeter that does not have the required training will not be scheduled to serve.