How Many Liturgical Schedules A Year?

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?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to How Many Liturgical Schedules A Year?

  1. The bane of my existence… In any case, where I worship and am actively involved in liturgical ministry, our lector schedules generally go for two months. We do not use any system, such as Ministry Scheduler (which is what is used where I work). The coordinator of the ministry simply schedules people. We do not print the names in the bulletin. If we can’t make it, we make our own switches. That said, as a liturgical coordinator I am often frustrated when a lector shows up 2 minutes before mass and I have already found a substitute… It was a case of not only a late lector, but a very different person than was scheduled.

    We do not schedule Eucharistic ministers. This is problematic for me as a coordinator as I am often begging, pleading and cajoling up until the moment mass starts. Any efforts that I have made to institute schedule have been met with… resistance, to say the least.

    I think that it really depends on where you are. This system works at our parish, even if it causes some of us agita. We do not have a paid liturgist on staff to over see it all.

  2. John Doe says:

    In our parish of 2500 families, we have no “liturgist” other than the parish priests. We have long-serving volunteers who lead each ministry – lectors. EMHCs. sacristans, ushers. Each group publishes a three month schedule, and each week’s bulletin includes next weekend’s schedule for lectors and EMHCs. People seem quite responsible and capable of finding their own substitutes. The only instance of a parish staffer getting involved ls that the lay pastoral associate takes care of scheduling the altar servers, again with a three month schedule presented weekly in the bulletin.

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