The role of an usher/greeter/hospitality minister is that of an official host, someone whose presence, conversation and actions speak a welcome to all who come to a liturgical event.
Welcoming can be traced back to the beginning of the Old Testament and hospitality has always been part of our Christian tradition. In Genesis 18 Abraham entertained angels. Job 31 speaks of helping others. Chronicles talks of the role of serving and as doorkeeper in the temple. Elijah was offered hospitality from the widow and her son. Jesus fed 5,000.
Ushers/greeters/hospitality ministers should see themselves as servants of the faith community. They bring the welcome of Christ to the moment and reach out to the Christ in the other. They are to meet, greet, and assist their fellow Christians to feel welcome and at home at worship. They should have a gift of hospitality, putting people at ease and assisting them as needed.
The tasks of the usher/greeter/hospitality minister are many:
- Prior to the liturgy the usher checks to see that all materials used during the liturgy are available in sufficient quantity. These may include bulletins, music sheets, booklets, handouts, etc.
- They are to make sure strangers feel welcome through their tone of voice and gesture of welcoming, seating them so that all the church pews are filled and seating the latecomers at an appropriate time.
- The head usher makes sure that there are enough users to take up the collection.
- They ready the table for the gifts and have parishioners ready to carry up the gifts to present to the priest.
- During the sign of peace, the usher/greeter/hospitality ministers should be especially alert to the presence of newcomers in the assembly, approaching them and exchanging a greeting.
- They help keep good order at communion by leading and guiding people row-by-row making sure no one falls.
- In many parishes it is the ushers who alert the extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist to bring communion to parishioners who cannot come up in the communion line.
- At the end of Mass, ushers hand out the bulletins with a smile, inviting parishioners to return the following Sunday.
- Ushers also need to be alert to help with any disturbances or medical problems. They know where the fire extinguishers are kept and how to use them, as well as the medical kit, smelling salts, emergency numbers (for example 911), etc.
- Ushers/greeters/hospitality ministers should be dressed in a manner so as to be easily recognized with in the assembly. Some ministers wear pins, nametags or special jackets to designate they are an usher/greeter.
Lastly, but most importantly, the usher/greeter/hospitality ministers are members of the worshipping community. This is their Mass too. They should sing, pray and listen with everyone else during the Mass. Their special role is to be present, prayerful and participate fully in the Mass, and not be standing out in the lobby of the church. They are called to foster community through their words, actions and example.
If you are interested in participating in this ministry, either call the parish office at 941-755-1826 or speak with a usher/greeter/hospitality minister before or after Mass and someone get in touch with you.