What is sacristan?
In the majority of churches, sacristans are the inconspicuous workers who take care of the church’s altar vessels, linens, prayer candles, and similar other things. They are assumed to be like the little old ladies who clean the stuff, iron the fabrics, refill the candles, etc. But, some of the big churches hire qualified professionals for the post of sacristans.
Catholic church sacristan job description
Generally, professional sacristans play a leadership role in the worship program of the church. They coordinate and supervise the services and things required for prayers at church. Sacristans are mostly present at Catholic churches.
Given below are an overview of the job description, qualification criteria, skills, and related information for the position of a sacristan:
Sacristan Major Duties
While the precise job responsibilities of a sacristan differ from one church to another, their common duties remain more or less the same. Every sacristan assists in the organization of worship and prayer programs; ensures the upkeep of altar vessels, availability of consumables, clean ironed linens, and other related provisions. In other words, sacristans look after the safety and security of the church, especially its worship arena.
Sacristans perform these tasks in coordination with a senior minister or pastor of the church. Apart from their main duties, sacristans may also govern the work of lay ministers like cash managers, ushers, greeters, etc.
Sacristan Educational Criteria
There are only a few full-time employed sacristans as most of the churches hire volunteer or part-time sacristans who earn a little stipend. And that is why there is no standard educational criterion for recruiting sacristans. For volunteer sacristans, churches do not state any educational requirement, but the employed sacristans at prominent cathedrals need to have a master-level degree in theology, music, or pastoral ministry.
Skills & Experience Required
Sacristans are expected to have proper knowledge of liturgies and their procedures. This encompasses awareness about the church set-up, order of service, and tear-down. Sacristans should also have the requisite skills to carry out and oversee cleaning and arrangement activities. While most of the sacristans get on-the-job training, some big churches prefer sacristans with professional experience in organizing liturgies at cathedrals.
Since some sacristans supervise the lay ministry, they must be good at delegation and interpersonal skills. Besides, sacristans should be trustworthy as they are in charge of safeguarding the keys and other precious objects of the church.
Sacristan Typical Workday
Every sacristan’s work schedule depends upon the particular church’s prayer and worship schedule. As the sacristans are tasked with locking and unlocking the church gates, they are naturally the first people to arrive at the church and the last ones to leave. During their typical workday, sacristans switch on the lights after opening the church door, put up the appropriate decorations and linens, take out the prayer vessels and refill them with an adequate amount of wine and bread.
After the worship program gets over, the sacristans wind up the things and store them safely, turn off the lights, and lock the church doors.
There is no verified salary data of sacristans as the full-time employed ones are very few. In most of the churches, either its pastoral ministers handle the tasks of sacristan or some volunteers perform this work. The salary outlook for a sacristan largely relies upon the specific church’s financial status.