Parish Ministry

Altar Servers 

Altar Servers assist the priest and deacon in the celebration of the Mass so the liturgy can be conducted with grace and reverence.  They assist the presider at the chair and at the altar by carrying the processional cross, lighting the candles, holding the books, setting the altar, carrying the incense and a variety of other tasks during the service.  This ministry helps to develop a sense of participation in parish life and a love for the church’s liturgical life, while growing closer to God in one’s own life.  It also offers an opportunity to understand the rewards of service toward others and their community.  Altar Servers assist all Masses, Stations of the Cross, Benediction, and other special events.  Boys and girls who already have taken first communion are eligible for this ministry.  Training normally takes place during fall or as the need arises.

Useful Links:

USCCB Guidelines of Altar Servers

Altar Society

The Ladies Altar Society has served an important ministry at St. Thomas for many years. Their ministry includes maintenance of vestments, candles, altar clothes, and other sacramentals. They also ensure the church is appropriately decorated for liturgical celebrations and are responsible for the cleaning of the church.  They also provide receptions to some important occasions of the Church i.e. First Communion, Baptisms, Funerals, etc.

If you are interested in becoming a member, please contact Mrs. Constance Moore at

Extraordinary Ministers


Extraordinary Ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion are properly formed, instructed and commissioned lay persons. EMs may be male or female. They should reflect the cultural diversity of their parish community. These ministers are appointed for a given parish community to aid in the distribution of Holy Communion at Mass and to the sick and homebound when ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are unavailable.

EMs are not to function apart from their parish community. Ordinarily, EMs do not perform any other liturgical ministry at the Mass at which they serve as an EM. When the situation requires, the presider of the Mass may call upon members of the faithful who are not EMs to aid him in the distribution of Holy Communion on that one occasion. Those called must be Catholics in good standing who are themselves able to receive the Eucharist.

As the Church teaches, the bishop is the chief liturgist of his diocese. For this reason, the Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston regulates this ministry and all other liturgical ministries in collaboration with the pastors of the parishes of the Diocese.

The lector is one who proclaims the scriptures at mass. While often referred to as a “reader”, the lector is so much more than this. Truly, the lector is proclaimer and prophet in ministry to the community assembled. For the reader merely recites words for the ear, but through a proclaimer the words come alive as God’s message to the heart. That is, words become the Word.

If you are interested to become a lector, please contact Fr. Thien Nguyen

Lector Formation and Training 

Prepared by Deacon Louis Provenzano

Characteristics and Spirituality of the Lector: The lector proclaims the Word of God to the assembled faith community. Men and women who accept the call to this ministry are presumed to be people of faith and lovers of Scripture, eager to serve the Christian community. The prophet Isaiah expresses this ministry well:

“The Lord has given me a well-trained tongue, that I may know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.” -Isaiah 50:4 

Effective Proclamation Skills: 

  • Know the context of the scripture you are preparing to read 
  • Become the person you are proclaiming (Get to know that person) 
  • The importance of projection and inflection, variations in melody, breath control 
  • Pace 
  • The larger the church, the larger the assembly, and the more complex the text, the slower you must read. It is better to be too slow than too fast. Your listeners have not spent time with this reading as you have. They need time to absorb it, to catch your words and comprehend what they mean. 
  • The Proper use of the Microphone 
  • Gestures and Posture 
  • Pronunciation 

Important Tips for Developing Effective Proclamation Skills

  • Be yourself. Do not try to copy or emulate others. 
  • Practice difficult words before you are asked to proclaim them 
  • If you make a mistake and that mistake has not altered the meaning of the text just continue. Do not apologize of start over. 
  • Being prepared is the best deterrent for last minute panic 
  • Control your body language. Keep still and avoid excess movement. 
  • Practice in the church before and after Mass to become familiar with Church acoustics and to learn proper volume control. (Shouting is not necessary.) 

Literary Forms Common to Sacred Scripture

  • Stories: Stories should be “told” and not “read”
  • Epistles: Letters. Know who wrote the letter and who received it. The purpose of the letter dictates the tone.
  • Prophetic Writing: The intensity of emotion and degree of urgency is important.
  • Poetry: Poetry is rich with imagery which can be difficult to communicate.

Steps to Effective Preparation for Ministry of the Word

  • Read Sacred Scripture on a regular basis to better communicate the story
  • Review all the readings for the Mass to better understand the context of the readings
  • Practice by reading your text several times to get the proper sense of pace and flow
  • Identify the literary form of the text
  • Consider what is the meaning of the passage?
  • Where does the reading climax?
  • Check pronunciation and words to emphasize (The Workbook for Lectors will offer pronunciation guidelines.)
  • Be aware of the Liturgical season and use that season to enrich your proclamation

General Instructions of the Roman Missal

  • Before Mass, the Lectionary is placed on the ambo since it is not carried in procession. It is the responsibility of the Lector to make sure that the readings for the Mass are correct and are the readings that you have prepared to proclaim.
  • If the Book of Gospels is used after the second reading, the Lectionary is removed and placed on the side by the lector to make room for the Book of Gospels.
  • The Book of the Gospels is carried in procession by the lector when a Deacon is not proclaiming the Gospel or is not assisting at the Mass. The Deacon or lector will carry the Book of Gospels, slightly elevated, and place in on the altar in the Book of Gospels Stand front and center of the altar. If a stand is not provided the Book of Gospels will be laid flat on the altar.
  • The Priest and ministers, not carrying sacred items, genuflect to the tabernacle when arriving at the sanctuary and at the end of Mass (however, not during the Mass.) When reaching the altar, the deacon or lector carrying the Book of the Gospels omit the sign of reverence to the altar and tabernacle.
  • The word is always proclaimed from the ambo. It is preferable that different readers proclaim the first and second reading but each reading is proclaimed by a single reader except the Passion Narrative.
  • In the absence of a Deacon the lector will announce the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful.

Summary of the Guidelines and Procedures for Ministers of the Word

Effective lectors are reverent, confident and deliberate. They continue to pray, develop and nourish their own spirituality. When proclaiming the Scriptures, their love and faith are evident to the hearers of the Word. Their lives change because they are constantly converted and motivated by the Word of God.

The Deacon or lector carries the Book of the Gospels and follows the servers and cross bearer in procession. The book is carried with the binding to the right, with both hands and few inches away from the breast, not held aloft like a banner. Lectors do not bow when holding the book. The Gospel Book is placed on the altar during the procession. The Lectionary is placed on the ambo before Mass. Lectors read from the Lectionary – not from a missalette or a sheet of paper. After the second reading, the lector places the Lectionary on a shelf or a stand. Ministers of the Word do not carry out the Lectionary or the Book of the Gospels in the recessional. Liturgical Books are always handled with reverence and honor.

Lectors communicate with the assembly in nonverbal ways – body language, dress, posture, attitude, etc. Dress simply and move with a demeanor of honor and reverence. Personal conversations, joking or laughing in the Narthex should be avoided as the Minister of the Word is a visible sign of our faith in action.

Preparation of the Lectionary
Lectors should review the Lectionary before Mass, noting the markers, the page, and the reading. This is important if another book is used in preparation. The lector places the Lectionary on the ambo. Check the microphone and the place of seating. Lectors ask the celebrant about the procedure for the entrance and the recessional.

Liturgy is one integral action – it functions like a symphony. Those who are in leadership roles in liturgical worship should be present from the beginning of Mass to the end. Come early to prepare and to pray. Inner quiet and composure will convey prayerfulness and the Spirit of God.

Liturgy is a celebration, a ritual prayer of the assembly with the leadership of the celebrant and the liturgical ministers. The focus is on expressing and celebrating the immediate faith experience of all present. Those in liturgical leadership enhance this experience with full, active and conscious participation. Dignified and restrained participation shows an alert awareness of the significance of ritual worship.

Lectors carefully choose their attire for simplicity and appropriateness. On festive occasions all liturgical ministers may wear an alb or consider appropriate clothing with the color and spirit of the season or feast.