One of my parishioners asked about the wisdom in running liturgical schedules only three times a year. Would we do better, she asked, if each schedule ran for a shorter term, say two months, giving people the opportunity to more accurately predict their availability? Or for newcomers to be added more readily?
It’s a good question. A great question, in fact. Let me put it to you liturgists in the reading audience.
At my parish, we work around the annual registration of students and residents in August. Hence, the Fall schedule begins in mid-September to give us a few weeks to collect volunteers and train the newcomers.
We also have the start of Spring semester in mid-January, so we usually start schedule number 2 in February. Four-and-a-half months is a long time to run. And we do have more absentees at the end of a schedule.
On the other hand, lassoing liturgical ministers–for Communion, lectoring, hospitality, and as sacristans–is a time-consuming piece for me. New ministers have to be tracked down for orientation. And there are the inevitable few who turn in their forms late, and must be manually inserted into the schedule. Bulletin notices. Announcements at Mass. Pestering procrastinators.
I wish there was a way to continuously roll a schedule online with some helpful parameters: not have people sign up every week, an ability to alert others when a sub is needed. That would be a big task for the front end of implementation–drawing up the software and the online protocols. But we might never need to run another schedule ever again. Just have LM’s go online and volunteer for one lector slot a month, one Communion minister spot every two weeks (or more), and so on.
How do you or your parishes handle schedules? What’s optimal, in your view?