Thank you for attending the November meetings for Liturgical Ministers in the Catholic Community of Billerica!

Based on your feedback from these meetings, Deacon Phil has put together a Question and Answer for the main points that were raised repeatedly during the sessions. Please contact Deacon Phil at or 978.663.8816 x246 with any questions about these questions.

Liturgical Ministry Update 2020

Here are some Frequently asked Questions about the 2019-2020 Liturgical Ministry changes.

Why do we need to update how we celebrate our Masses?

As a newcomer to the Parishes of our Collaborative, Father Paul has experienced the complexity of the different ways that our three Parishes celebrate Eucharist.

This complexity makes it difficult for new priests to celebrate Eucharist among the Parishes, leads to confusion around the altar, and makes it difficult for Liturgical Ministers to serve at different parishes.

As well, Father Paul would like to align our celebrations of the Eucharist more closely to the spirit of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

During our recent Liturgical Minister meetings, Father Paul responded to the question of “What is Father Paul going to do?” with the following:

I am going to preach the Gospel, Anoint the sick, Baptize, Witness Marriages, Bury the dead, all according to the Church’s guidelines.

The conversation also presents the Staff of the Collaborative with the opportunity to remind all volunteer ministers that we are the first faces that 90% of pew Catholics see in their experience of Church. Father Paul also hastens to add that it is a privilege and not a right, or an honor, or a recognition of our holiness, to serve at the Table of the Lord. We are all called to serve via our Baptism.


Can the Liturgical Ministers meet more frequently?

At each session of the Liturgical Ministry meeting, participants asked that the Staff gather individual Ministries as well as all Ministers together for training and for social events more frequently. The Ministers expressed the need to feel better connected to one other, and to know more of what was was going on in our Collaborative.

As part of the update of the Liturgical Ministries, starting with Lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, but eventually including Greeters, Ushers, Music Ministers and Altar Servers, we will be hold update sessions. Needless to say, this is a large task, so our first updates will be for Lectors and EMs.

Early in January, Deacon Phil will meet with Ministry Leaders from our three Parishes to discuss how to roll out these updates while also improving communication with the Ministers.

There are also things that we can do quickly to improve communication. We will:

  • identify the leaders for the Ministries,
  • provide consistent training and standards,
  • commit to regular (quarterly or bi-annual) get togethers, and
  • commit to using mailing lists to communicate changes and give updates.

This is hard work, but it can be done.

How can we get more young people to participate in Mass?

Would that there was one silver bullet or magic potion to encourage our youth, and families with youth to attend Mass more regularly!

Unfortunately, we cannot berate or cajole or demand or intimidate or shame families into attending Mass more frequently. We cannot offer prizes for attending, and we cannot demand that families punch cards to Mass in order to receive the Sacraments. It is not what Jesus did during his time walking the Earth, and I cannot believe that he would want it now.

We need to look at the cold hard facts that attending Mass is not important to more families because Jesus is not more important to more families. And, that is a much more difficult question to answer.

There are some things that we can do, however:

  • Can we be welcoming to young families whom we do not recognize? Can we be patient with them as they struggle with inattentive and disruptive children? Can we greet them and let them know that they are welcome here?
  • Can we offer Liturgical Music that would be more attractive to younger families? There is always a tough balance to find between the contemplative needs of some Parishioners, with the desire for more upbeat music that might be more appealing to some younger folks. The word “Funky” was used at one of the listening sessions, and I will leave it there. 🙂 This is a conversation that we are going to have to enter into sooner rather later if we would like to see our churches flourish.
  • Can we widen our view from “How do we get them to Mass” to “How do we offer them Jesus?” Yes, we can meet them at the door of the church, but what about when we meet them at Market Basket, or on the Soccer fields, or at the Library? What can we offer our younger families to make them want to choose Jesus over Hockey/Soccer/Dance/etc.?
How do we get more volunteers, especially younger ones?

Recruiting volunteers for Liturgical Ministers is really every Parishioner’s concern. If you see a Parishioner who you would think would make a good Minister, either ask them yourself, or refer them to the Liturgical Minister for your Parish. It’s really as simple as that.

We would be happy to speak with any interested Parishioner to see how you might best serve your home parish. Our volunteer leaders by parish are:

  • St. Andrew – Kevin Roy
  • St. Mary – Deacon Al Shannahan
  • St. Theresa – Barbara Doherty


In anticipation of Lent, we have created full descriptions of the roles of Lector and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist for our Collaborative. We plan to roll out these changes on the weekend of February 29, 2020, the First Sunday in Lent. You can find the Lector role description HERE, and the EM role description HERE.


rev 2020.01.03