How many people are involved in a Mass celebration?
Mass is always a gathering, since every celebration of Mass—whether celebrated by a priest on his own or with a congregation—is done in the presence of God. Usually, the Mass is celebrated publicly. Here is a quick run-down of the typical roles of the Mass, and the people who fill them.
Ordained priest: This is the most crucial role in Mass, as it is impossible to celebrate it without an ordained priest. The priest, who leads the celebration, is also called the celebrant.
Congregation: The gathering of people, or lay members, present at a Mass celebration.
Deacon: Ordained by the Church to assist bishops and priests in their ministry, a deacon may also be part of the Mass celebration through calls to prayer, proclamation of the Gospel, preparation of the Eucharist, etc.
Lector: This role is filled by one who proclaims the first and second Scripture readings in the Liturgy of the Word. This term can also refer to an instituted ministry in the Church.
Cantor: The person leading the congregation in sections of the Mass that are chanted or sung.
Altar servers or acolytes: Children, youth or adults who assist in a variety of ways, including lighting and carrying candles, bearing the processional cross, and bringing ritual objects to the altar.
Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion: Members of the Church who are specially trained and authorized to help priests distribute the Eucharist.
Ushers: Greet and seat worshipers and collect the congregation’s contributions at the offertory, among other duties.
Choir: Musicians and soloists who glorify God by performing sacred music during worship.
Come back next Sunday for Mass 101 Part 7: The Procession and the Sign!