As a ministry in service to the worshiping community, the sacristan, like all other lay liturgical ministers, serves, as a result of their baptismal call, to provide hospitality and welcome to all who assemble to give praise and glory to God.


A sacristan normally is an adult member of the parish who is fully initiated into
the Catholic faith, in good standing with the Church, and has a deep knowledge of
and reverence for all liturgical items. A sacristan should be well organized,
hospitable, and personable.

Roles and Responsibilities

The sacristan oversees the completion of tasks which supports the liturgy or may
delegate those tasks to others. These could include set‐up, assistance during the
liturgy and clean‐up. The sacristan ensures articles of the liturgy are clean,
organized, inventoried and accessible for the liturgy. The sacristan may also
collaborate with the other liturgical ministers or others involved in preparing for
The sacristan should be supervised by a designated staff member of the parish.

Formation and Training

It is the responsibility of the designated pastoral leader to train suitable
candidates to become Sacristans and to provide those ministers with a timely
ministry schedule. This training may be done in collaboration of staff and/or
parish Worship Commission members.

Sacristan candidates must be willing to enter initial and ongoing formation and be
responsible for their scheduled duties. They may need to provide a substitute in
their absence, but they may not ask someone who is already scheduled for
another liturgical ministry the same day.

Each parish will assign specific duties for the sacristan and ensure that the
candidates are trained in performing those tasks. In addition, the sacristan will
have knowledge of the GIRM, Liturgical Year, the Order of the Mass,
nomenclature of articles, vesture and vessels used in liturgical celebrations, as
well as knowledge of storage areas and systems (HVAC, lighting, sound, mulit‐
media) of the church.


Upon the appropriate initial formation and discernment for this ministry, the
person is appointed as a Sacristan, using the appropriate ritual. They are
commissioned at a public ceremony (in the midst of the Sunday assembly) for a
period of three years. They may be re‐commissioned after a suitable period of
discernment and opportunity for on‐going formation.

Specific Norms

1. Set‐Up … may include the following; however, some listed items may be the
responsibility of other ministers, volunteers or employees such as the
custodian or musician.
a. Unlock the church building.
b. Turn on lights.
c. Survey walkways and steps to ensure safety. Contact appropriate
person to take care of any problems.
d. Check HVAC system.
e. Turn on the sound system and other multi‐media systems. Prepare
microphone(s) as needed, including inserting batteries.
f. Check sanctuary and remove anything not appropriate (such as dead
flowers or drooping plants).
g. Locate the Universal Prayer (intercessions).
h. Place the tabernacle key at the tabernacle.
i. Set liturgical books, including the Lectionary, Book of the Gospels,
Roman Missal. The priest celebrant for the liturgy will make specific
selections as appropriate.
j. Prepare articles for liturgical celebration which could include: chalice
and cups, purificators, corporal, pall, paten, water cruet, ciboria,
bowl and towel for washing hands, bread and wine, processional
crucifix, thurible, thurible stand and incense, altar and processional
k. Place “Reserved” signs when appropriate.
l. Ensure that vestments which could include: albs, cinctures,
chasubles, stoles are clean and available for wear.
m. Oversee the check‐in of Altar Servers, Ministers of the Word and
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. If necessary, assist with
securing any last minute replacements.

2. During the Liturgy … a sacristan needs to be attentive to any last minute
needs that may arise after the Liturgy begins and to make adjustments
accordingly. They serve at the direction of the priest celebrant.

3. Clean Up … once again this list of duties may be shared with other
ministers, volunteers, or staff.

  1. a. After the vessels have been properly purified by the priest celebrant,
    deacon or instituted acolyte, ensure that the chalice, cups and ciboria
    are properly washed and securely stored.

b. Place soiled linens in receptacle for laundering.
c. Return liturgical books to their rightful storage place.
d. Lock tabernacle and secure the tabernacle key.
e. Return all articles utilized in the liturgical celebration to their proper
storage areas.
f. Ensure that albs, cinctures, chasuble and stole are stored properly
and cleaned regularly.
g. Make sure candles are extinguished.
h. Adjust HVAC as appropriate.
i. Turn off lights and sound/multi‐media systems.
j. Lock doors and engage security system

Attire and Decorum

Sacristans should exhibit a love for the Liturgy as evidenced by their demeanor
and attire. This should be reflected in their dress. It should be appropriate for
the occasion, not distracting from their role or calling attention to themselves and
away from the focus of Liturgy.
Sacristans are to handle the sacred articles with reverence and care during their

Resources and References

1. Neff, Christina. Guide for Sacristans. Liturgy Training Publications, 2001.
2. USCCB. General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Liturgy Documentary
Series #2, 2003.
3. Ryan, G. Thomas. The Sacristy Manual, Second Edition. Liturgy Training
Publications, 2011.
The following paragraphs of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Third
Edition provide further information with respect to this ministry … GIRM #105,
117‐120, 139 and 306‐307