Gracious to God: Sacristans at the Hall
A sacristan is defined as someone in charge of the sacred vessels and vestments of the church. Father Stanley Gomes, Director of Campus Ministry, believes it is more than that.
“…being a Sacristan is a ministry, a call, a vocation of service to the Community, namely the Seton Hall Family,” Fr. Gomes said. “It takes deep faith and spiritual life for one to be a successful Sacristan. The person sacrifices a lot of his/her own personal time in this special service.” Currently, there are three male sacristans and three female sacristans serving the Seton Hall community. According to Liz Dunbar, as a sacristan, they are responsible for the four chapels on campus – Xavier’s Chapel, the Chapel in the basement of Boland Hall, President’s Hall’s Chapel and the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. According to Dunbar, sacristans are responsible for preparing for and cleaning up after mass. Among many other tasks, they make sure flowers are alive, the holy water is clean, trash is cleaned up and the Eucharist is treated with the utmost reverence. Juliet Hughes, the head sacristan, feels the job can be hectic but worth it. She has been a sacristan for two years. An example of the hectic nature of a sacristan’s job, on weekends, weddings and baptisms will be scheduled back-to-back. This leaves the sacristans a short amount of time to clean up and prepare for the next event. Students who are chosen to be sacristans have a large time commitment. “Sacristans make many sacrifices in order to serve the church and have a lot of responsibilities, such as giving up three weeks of their summer to take care of their chapel and one vacation break,” Hughes said. Not just any student can become a sacristan. Both Hughes and Dunbar said the job is not for everyone. “Sacristans are selected for their reverence and dedication to the faith,” Hughes said. “Being a sacristan is a blessing because students learn more about the liturgy and sacraments and get to know wonderful, holy priests.” According to Dunbar, sacristans are involved with many other activities on campus such as the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, DOVE and Saint Paul’s Outreach. Sacristans must also live on-campus in case of an emergency, Hughes said. They must be able to get to the various chapels within minutes. “Sacristans are those who take their faith very seriously,” Hughes said. “Our job is about servant leadership; we aim to do little things in love for God through our duties…” Both Hughes and Dunbar declined to detail compensation for sacristans as they wanted to ensure those interested truly revered the Eucharist. Jessica Card can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.