Lectors and Extraordinary Ministers

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: In visiting other parishes, I have seen a variety of ways the seating of Lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist is handled. I’ve always understood that there is symbolism in having the lay ministers come up out of the congregation to minister during the Mass and then return to the congregation. This is a visible sign of the active participation of the people in the Mass. I’ve noticed that some parishes do it this way. However, other parishes have the ministers sit in the sanctuary throughout the Mass (sometimes in albs, sometimes not.). Still others have a sort of “hybrid”: the Lector sits in the sanctuary until the General Intercessions are complete and then returns to the congregation – and the EM’s are seated in the sanctuary throughout the Mass. I asked one pastor why the lay ministers all sat in the sanctuary throughout the Mass, and he replied: “We have a huge sanctuary and I think it looks empty without the ministers.” 


A: GIRM 194 envisions that the reader is vested, and GIRM 195 envisions that a reader sits in the sanctuary.

In Latin the word for the minister in these paragraphs is lector. I think that these paragraphs refer to an instituted lector, not an ordinary lay reader, but it is hard to tell from the English translation.

In practice, most readers and communion ministers do not vest, but sit in the pews and enter the sanctuary when needed. But there are other acceptable ways for them to serve.