The sacristan’s role is to prepare the necessary furnishings and items needed for Mass, as well as for the various ministries. These include celebrant, deacons, lectors, extraordinary Eucharistic ministers, and occasionally, the musicians.
The text of General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) at No. 105, says:
"The following also exercise a liturgical function: The sacristan, who carefully arranges the liturgical books, the vestments, and other things necessary in the celebration of Mass."
The sacristan in harmony with the pastor also makes sure that the vestments, church furnishings, liturgical vessels and decorative objects are kept in good condition and, if necessary, sent for gilding or repair.
Other practical indications apart from these official recommendations are that the sacristan ensures that the things necessary for worship are always available. There should be a ready supply of fresh hosts and of duly authorized wine, sufficient clean purificators, corporals, hand towels, incense and coals.
In this context the sacristan is responsible for making sure that those who wash the altar linens do so according to the indications of the missal and that the water for the first wash is poured down the sacrarium or to the earth. The sacristan also takes care of burning old linens and other objects that are no longer suitable for liturgical use.
In order to carry out these duties, the sacristan needs to have a fairly good idea of the content and norms of the principal liturgical books and an understanding of the intricacies of the liturgical calendar.
A good sacristan is important, as the GIRM says, the post fulfills a true liturgical function. As the Ceremonial of Bishops states: "The adornment and decor of a church should be such as to make the church a visible sign of love and reverence toward God" (No. 38).
Members of the Holy Family Altar & Rosary Society volunteer their time to perform these varied tasks.