How would you answer if someone were to ask you what the chief duty of the usher is? Is it taking up the collection?
Is it greeting people and making them feel welcome? Is it helping people find their seats? Is it guiding the Communion procession? Is it coping with whatever emergencies might arise during Mass?
As important as all those tasks might be, none is the primary duty of an Usher. The primary duty of an Usher is the same as the primary duty of every member of the assembly – to participate in the common worship of the Church. Because Ushers have many duties and are important in assisting the community’s worship, it is easy to think of the things an Usher does as more important than taking part in the prayer itself. To be an effective minister of Christ, you must be in touch with Christ yourself.
A second reason participating in the liturgy is important for Ushers is they set an example for others. Ushers are often closest to those who participate the least in the songs and prayers of the Mass. Especially those who sit/stand in the back of the Church. If they see Ushers actively taking part, it sends a powerful message of the importance of participation in the liturgy.
Ushers are ministers of hospitality who play a key role in the living Body of Christ as the first contact believers have with the assembly when they arrive for Mass. How Ushers greet and welcome both newcomers and longtime parishioners makes a world of difference in how people prepare for the liturgy about to take place.
The hospitality that Ushers show in helping people find a seat, in collecting the gifts of money or in guiding the Communion procession must reflect the idea that the Church is our home. We are all members of the family of God, but at the same time we are all guests of God who calls us here. Ushers should come to Mass early to see that things are ready, to receive any special instruction.