What Does a Sacristan Do?

What is sacristan?
In most churches, sacristans are the inconspicuous workers who take care of the church’s altar vessels, linens, prayer candles, and similar 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 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 church’s safety and security, 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 lay ministers’ work like cash managers, ushers, greeters, etc.

Sacristan Educational Criteria

Only a few full-time employed sacristans, as most 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 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 church’s keys and other precious objects.

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 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, store them safely, turn off the lights, and lock the church doors.

Salary Prospects

There is no verified salary data of sacristans as the full-time employed ones are very few. In most churches, either its pastoral ministers handle sacristan tasks, or some volunteers perform this work. The salary outlook for a sacristan largely relies upon the specific church’s financial status.

Daniel Smith
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Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith is an experienced economist and financial analyst from Utah. He has been in finance for nearly two decades, having worked as a senior analyst for Wells Fargo Bank for 19 years. After leaving Wells Fargo Bank in 2014, Daniel began a career as a finance consultant, advising companies and individuals on economic policy, labor relations, and financial management. At Nimblefreelancer.com, Daniel writes about personal finance topics, value estimation, budgeting strategies, retirement planning, and portfolio diversification. Read more on Daniel Smith's biography page. Contact Daniel: daniel@nimblefreelancer.com

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