The History of Ushers
The ushers of today have descended from a long line of people of God who have gone before them. Their ministry is deeply rooted in Scriptures and tradition. The author of the Book of Chronicles, a book coming to us from the third century before Christ, pays particular attention to the part played by the 'religious orders' of this time, not only the priests and Levites but the lesser orders of cantor and doorkeeping. These last, who may have numbered in the hundreds, loomed large in Jerusalem's population at the time and are the progenitors of our ushers today. They comprised the guild of gatekeepers, who had their assigned task "the guarding of the threshold of the tent, just as their fathers had guarded the entrance of the encampment of the Lord" (1 Chronicles 9:19).
(From The Ministry of Ushers by Gregory F. Smith)
A Liturgical Ministry
The ministry of ushers forms part of the liturgical ministries. To understand the roles of the usher, one has to look at some of the qualities required by ushers:
- It is a ministry to people
- It is a ministry to community
- It requires kindness, reverence and dependability
- It requires accenting the positive
When people come to church they experience not only the service but the people associated with the church. We want the experience to be warm and welcoming. Ushers are part of that experience. They communicate a sense of belonging to the parishioners and are an important extension of the church and Catholic family.
The Roles of the Usher
- The primary reason for having Ushers is to welcome people of God, especially newcomers, to the House of God. Ushers would therefore be required to arrive at least 20 minutes before the start of Mass.
- Assist the elderly and disabled into the Church
- Assist in the seating of the assembly.
- Ensure that the hymn books, bulletins and Mass sheets are available for the congregation.
- If additional chairs are required, then organise assistants to help set up the chairs
- Organise the Offertory procession (ie. which family will be bringing up the offertory).
- If there are not enough Ushers, then organise assistants to help with the Collection.
- After the service begins, Ushers can sit near the back so as to take care of late arrivals.
- At Communion, the Ushers come forward and stand by the first pew until the Acolytes and Choir members finish receiving. Then they direct people to the altar rail, moving from pew to pew.
- At the end of the service, again greet any newcomers, and invite them to coffee, if any. Pick up bulletins and hymn books left in the pews.
An Usher's Prayer
Lord, you make all kinds of people, even like me. In your love you gather them all into your Church. As you gather your people this day, help me to serve them in a Christlike manner, even as your Son served those who gathered about him. Make me prayerful and patient, helpful and understanding, and may I radiate the joy that faith brings as I serve their needs. Give me your strength to support my fellow ministers. May all who assemble to celebrate our common faith in the risen Saviour be glad of heart for being here and for having encountered your Son in one another, in our priest, at the tables of the Book and the Bread, and through the ministry of Ushers like me. I ask this through Jesus' name. Amen
If you are interested in becoming an usher, please contact the Parish Office at 021 794 5185 or Ivan Hendricks at 082 374 6235.