There are many ways for all to join in celebrating the Mass and the other devotions that take place within Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Parishioners are actively involved in different lay ministries, helping in a variety of ways.
Ways of helping to enhance and ensure that the celebration of Mass runs smoothly
A group from each of the different Masses, along with the priest help to plan and co-ordinate special liturgical celebrations, such as Healing Masses, mass on the Feast of the Sacred Heart our patronal feast day, Advent and Lent services, Holy Week and Easter.
Boys and girls who have celebrated their First Communion are invited to become altar servers. Altar servers have special responsibilities which help the whole congregation to pray better and to join in worship as a community. Anyone wishing to become an altar server is shown by example what to do, and is helped to understand why it is being done, so that they can learn to serve well with care, attention and reverence.
At all Masses, lay parishioners take on the role of ‘Extra Ordinary Minister of the Eucharist’ to assist in the distribution of Holy Communion. Duties are performed on a rota basis. Extra Ordinary Ministers of the Eucharist may also visit the housebound or the sick of the parish to take the Blessed Sacrament to them, maintaining their link with the parish whilst they are unable to attend church.
At all our Masses, readers (lectors) proclaim the Word of God, through the Readings and Psalms, and lead the Prayers of the Faithful. The ordained Ministers proclaim the Gospel. When there is no weekday Mass the Gospel may be read by a lector during a Service of the Word.
A team of parishioners look after the altar linen, furnishings and cleaning of the sanctuary, whilst our resident florist creates and maintains floral arrangements for the church.
Our church is a place of welcome and at most Masses a friendly face will greet parishioners and visitors, provide any information needed and distribute Mass sheets, hymn books and newsletters before Mass begins.
Ushers at the back of church are available for any help and assistance required through Mass, and also manage the Offertory collection and procession.
There is always music (generally organ or keyboard and sometimes guitars or other instruments) and plenty of singing by the congregation at the Sunday morning Mass, and a little less singing (often "a capella", without accompaniment) at the Saturday Vigil Mass.
The organ is a Pipe Organ, and is a good example of a late 19th century instrument built by the well known Huddersfield organ builders Conacher & Company. The action is tracker (mechanical) for the manuals and electro-magnetic for the pedals. There are three manuals - Swell, Great and Choir. Originally the air would have been pumped by hand. The pump handle is still there on the right hand side of the organ, but thankfully the pumping is now electric.
The organ has many stops which are individually beautiful but combine to make an instrument with a variety of tone colours well beyond its modest size. The organ sounds well in solo organ music from the renaissance to the modern period, and also has the power to accompany a full congregation or a solo with confidence and elegance.
When the organ was installed the church was owned by the Ebenezer Congregational church. Common to many non-conformist chapels, the organ is placed in a position up in the gallery, where the organist would have been surrounded by the choir. Immediately behind the organist (or in front depending on your viewpoint), where the altar now is, there would have been a large raised pulpit from which the preacher led the service and preached the sermon. The organist would not have been so isolated from the rest of the 'action', as it might appear now. Today, strategically placed mirrors are used by the organist to see the altar.
Our congregation sings well, and whilst there is no formal choir, an informal singing group meets several times a year. All are welcome at the practices to learn hymns so as to help introduce new music to the parish, and to sing items, eg Psalm verses, in the Liturgy on special occasions such as through Holy Week, Easter, and Christmas.
Other musicians play a variety of instruments to enhance liturgical celebrations as required.