The St. Paul's Altar Guild is a group of men and women (called Sacristans) who serve God by preparing and tending the place in which we worship. Altar Guild work goes on behind the scenes. Sacristans are responsible for creating the familiar scene in the Chancel that worshippers expect to see at Cathedral services. At St. Paul's the Sacristans are responsible for caring for the sacraments of bread and wine, a unique privilege and humbling responsibility.
Unlike most other parish organizations, an Altar Guild is not intended to be involved in parish business or social matters; its only role is to be the priest's liturgical partner in making the worship life of the parish run smoothly.
What do Sacristans do?
- Appoint (that is, set up and arrange) the Chancel and Pulpit for Holy Eucharist, Holy Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination to Holy Orders, Funerals, and special services with appropriate furnishings including candles, linens, and silver.
- Clean and refurbish shrines.
- Polish silver and brass.
- Fill and wick candles, torches and snuffers.
- Assist clergy in selection of vestments, dressing and preparation, including portable microphones.
- Disposition of the Blessed Sacrament before and after Eucharist according to liturgical custom.
- Placement of ashes of the departed as required.
- Clean up after Eucharist, including cleaning and storing vessels.
- Launder and iron linens.
- Arrange flowers.
Loyalty and commitment are indispensable if the priest is to lead the parish in worship with equanimity.
The weekend Sacristans are assigned to teams. We depend on each other, and serve with respect for all. Our usual weekend requirement is for members to serve one Saturday morning for two hours (arriving around 9:00 a.m.) and one Sunday morning for two-and-one-half hours (arriving promptly at 7:00 a.m. or 9:45 a.m.) per month. However, we do currently need people to serve and would be glad to talk to people about serving either Saturdays or Sundays.
We are looking for Spanish-speaking people to serve at the Misa en español service (arriving at 12:30 p.m. Sundays). We also are looking for people to serve for approximately one-and-one half hours (arriving at 11:30 a.m.) at the Noonday Eucharists. The Eucharists take place in the chapel Monday through Saturday. The minimum commitment for this facet of Sacristan ministry is to serve one weekday per month.
In addition to the regular assignments listed above, we encourage participation at seasonal work parties to prepare the cathedral for Christmas, Lent, and Easter.
There are many additional opportunities for members to serve including funerals and special services. Tasks including purchasing, scheduling, and keeping the sacristies in order, are performed by our members. Some of our members sew and mend. There are opportunities for junior members to serve on Sunday as individuals express interest.
What do Altar Guild Members experience?
Sacristans report that, through a better understanding of the outward and visible sign in the Eucharist, they grow spiritually. Some members consider their altar guild work to be a form of prayer.
How do I get started?
Express your interest to Canon Sacristan Konnie Dadmun or The Rev. Canon Liturgist Brooks Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org.