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  • Writer's pictureFr. Daniel S.J. Scheid SCP

What is Father Dan Thinking? 4-21-24

Monday’s daily office reading from the Book of Exodus (18:13-27) spoke wisdom to me. Moses was visited by his father-in-law Jethro, who noted how much responsibility Moses had taken on and how overworked he was. Find yourself able and responsible helpers, Jethro counseled, or “you will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you.”


The Rule of Saint Benedict, which I study as part of my daily devotions, says as much when Benedict writes that the abbot (the Moses of the community) is to appoint as his assistant a prior whose task is to do the abbot’s bidding. Additionally, in larger communities, the abbot is to appoint as deans able and responsible people to keep track of smaller groups of monks within the monastery.


Moses took Jethro’s advice and appointed leaders to help him advise and adjudicate – Moses retained his authority as leader, but shared responsibility with others. Benedictine monasteries, to this day, do much the same. The abbot is the last word, but has help within the community.


All Saints’ is in a season of human resources transition. Your Moses has been without a secretary, a junior warden, a property verger, a sacristan, and a minister of liturgical ceremonies for some time. Each role had been filled by a separate person. Of late and of necessity I’ve assumed all or most of these responsibilities. Stuff is getting done, but I’m beginning to wear myself out, and if that happens to me, then it will begin to happen to you.


The renovations to the verger’s apartment on the garden level of the rectory are nearly finished, and it is my hope to hire someone, part-time, to take on some of the roles I’ve assumed – most likely some of the administrative and property-related ones. My expectation is that this person will live on-site as part of their compensation.


Yet this will not take care of everything. The ministries of sacristan and of liturgical ceremonies are important – central, really – to our life of common prayer and worship. Might you be called to one of these ministries? They are similar in purpose, but distinct in tasks.


The sacristan helps me keep track of the stuff of our worship – candlesticks and vestments and the like – to make sure we have what we need and that they are set up properly for our liturgies.


The minister of ceremonies helps me train members of the altar party and prepare for the more complex of our liturgies throughout the year.


The sacristan and minister of ceremonies meet with the organist and me from time-to-time, usually before the start of the next liturgical season of the church calendar, to make sure we’re all on the same page in order to fulfill our ministries ably and responsibly.


We’re in a season of relative liturgical calm – we’ll have a special liturgy now and then, but the next big shift won’t come until later this autumn. This gives us time to discern, recruit, and train people for all sorts of important roles and much-needed help for me.


Are you interested? Let’s talk!


God’s blessings and peace,





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