Guidelines for Lectors – St. Joseph’s Parish, Ottawa

There is a Lead Lector for each Mass, whose role is to:
ensure there are enough lectors for that Mass to serve in rotation;
train new lectors for that Mass; and
ensure necessary communication.

Lector Schedule

Three times between the Sunday after Labour Day and the end of June, the Lector Scheduler develops and publishes a schedule of Masses, identifying readers for each Mass, as well as the leader for the weekly practice and reflection session.

If a lector is not available to read on the date specified by the schedule, he or she must arrange for a replacement from the list of lectors. Please advise your replacement of the weekly practice and reflection session date for that week (either Wednesday or Thursday, as specified on the schedule). Write the change on the schedule at the back of the church.

Summer lectoring is provided by volunteer sign-up posted on the bulletin board at the back of the church. If a lector cannot come on the date planned, that lector needs to find a replacement. In July and August, the weekly practice and reflection session is suspended and lectors prepare individually.

Updating Your Coordinates

The Lector Scheduler prepares a list of the coordinates of all lectors. In case of sickness or vacation, it is useful for finding another lector to replace you and allowing you to inform the weekly practice and reflection session leader of your replacement.

If you change your coordinates, let the Lector Scheduler know and ensure that all of the lectors have your new coordinates.

Weekly Practice and Reflection Session

Weekly practice and reflection sessions are held from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., on either Wednesday or Thursday from Labour Day to June, to prepare for upcoming weekend’s Masses. Please check the lector schedule to see when the session is being held.

Sessions are normally held in the sacristy meeting room (change in location will be posted). Enter from the Laurier Street door and leave by the side door. (The Laurier Street door is normally locked before we leave our session.)

The practice and reflection sessions are led by a session leader, who will be identified on the lector schedule (name in boldface type and/or with an asterisk).

Session Leader Responsibilities

In the previous weeks:
communicates by e-mail any changes to the assigned lectors for the week to all lectors for that week and to the Liturgy Coordinator, Jamie Loback (;
may arrange a telephone call or a meeting before Mass to practise together, if one of the lectors is unable to attend the practice and reflection session;
verifies that any changes have been noted on the schedule at the back of the church, if possible.

For the session:
arrives at least 15 minutes before the session begins;
brings the Lectionary (from the lectors cupboard in the sacristy labelled Lector Workbooks and Scripts) to the sacristy meeting room;
calls the session to order and introduces the lectors to each other;
checks to see if anyone would like to practise with the microphone at the end of the session. (If so, obtain microphone from the front desk staff before 7:30 pm as the staff member goes off duty at that time. When finished, place microphone in the sacristy and leave a note at the front desk requesting that it be returned to the Music Director’s office in the morning.);
invites an individual to begin the text readings;
ensures that everyone is invited to share their contributions;
invites lectors to borrow the Lector Becomes Proclaimer booklet and shows them the lectors cupboard in the sacristy where the booklets are found and can be returned when the lectors have finished using it;
returns the Lectionary to the sacristy after the session.

Lectors’ Responsibilities

All lectors for the upcoming week-end, are expected to participate in the practice and reflection session.
Please practise the text before the practice and reflection session.
If you are unable to attend the session, you may contact the session leader, who may arrange a telephone call with you or a meeting before the Mass.
If you cannot read at the Mass, for which you have been scheduled, you are responsible for finding a replacement lector, who can also attend the practice and reflection session and for informing the session leader and Liturgy Coordinator, Jamie Loback ( of the change by e-mail. If possible, please provide two weeks notice so that the session leader has sufficient time to send reminders and other relevant information to the replacement lectors.


Order of Practice and Reflection Session

1. Opening Prayer (Session leaders may use their own prayer or the Proclaimer’s Prayer below.)
2. Lectors, in turn, read aloud the texts in the following order until all have texts have been read and then reflect on them in an open forum:
i. first reading
ii. responsorial psalm
iii. second reading
iv. gospel
3. Lectors stand and hold the Lectionary as at Mass, and read their text.
4. Lectors offer comments to each other to clarify pronunciation of names and geographical places, or offer suggestions to improve emphasis or pacing. Lectors may wish to re-read their text to the group for further practice.
5. Close session with prayer.

A Proclaimer’s Prayer

Praise to you, God of All Creation,
and all glory to your name.

I praise you and thank you for calling me
to proclaim your Word to your beloved people.

Open the hearts of all who worship with us
so that they may hear your voice when I read.
Let nothing in my life or manner disturb your people
or close their hearts to the action of your Spirit.

Cleanse my heart and mind,
and open my lips so that I may proclaim your glory.

All praise to you, Eternal God,
Through Jesus, our Lord,
In the Holy Spirit,
Now and forever. Amen

Excerpts from National Bulletin on Liturgy, Vol. 8, No. 50, “A Reader’s Prayer”, adapted, copyright
©Concacan Inc., 1975. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Visit

Individual Practice and Reflection

The publication, Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word (Publisher: Liturgy Training Press), is useful in preparing the readings. It can be obtained privately (e.g., at Liturgica, an ecclesial supply store). A workbook is published for each liturgical year (A, B and C) and may be re-used for succeeding liturgical cycles. The calendar dates of the Sundays change, so you have to know the Sunday in the liturgical year for which you are reading (e.g., 4th Sunday of Advent, 6th Sunday of Easter, etc.).

Other Preparation Suggestions

1. The Bible. Read the passages before and after the text for that Sunday. On occasion, you will notice that verses have been omitted in the Lectionary version of the reading. When you read the whole passage without omissions, it is easier to understand the text in the Lectionary.
2. The Sunday website of Saint Louis University ( provides the readings, background information and spiritual reflection on the readings.
3. The “Little Purple Book”, Lector Becomes Proclaimer. This 74-page informative booklet is a great resource for all lectors, both new and experienced. It can be found in the lectors cupboard in the sacristy. Feel free to borrow it and return it when you are finished.
4. Sunday Missals are available at the parish, before the Liturgical year begins, which is the first Sunday of Advent.

Reading at Mass

Before Mass:
1. Please arrive at church 15 minutes early.
2. Check off your name on the schedule posted at back of the church, so that the Celebrant’s Assistant knows you are present.
3. Check the Lectionary, which should be on the ambo, to ensure it is marked at the correct place. (If it is not there, the Celebrant’s Assistant can help you find the correct Lectionary.)
4. Make sure that the microphone is turned on.
5. Unless another lector has already agreed to read the Prayers of the Faithful (as indicated in the schedule), the first reader is responsible for reading them (or for finding someone else to read them) and for finding someone to hold the prayer basket.

First and Second Reading:
The first reader
1. Goes to the ambo when the Celebrant says, “Let us listen to the Word of the Lord” or similar words. Go directly to the ambo. Do not bow or genuflect.
2. Before you begin to read, adjust the microphone for your height. Remember to stand directly in front of the microphone and about four (4) to six (6) inches away.
3. Read slowly and clearly. Use a stronger voice than the one you use in conversation.
4. Begin the reading with the line that says, “A reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah,” or whatever it is. Try to memorize that first line so that you can look at the congregation. Pause and then continue reading. Note: We do not say the words “first reading” or “second reading” when introducing the readings.
5. At the end of the reading, pause and then say the last line, “The Word of the Lord.” Stay in place at the ambo until you hear the music for the psalm begin (this will feel like a long wait). Then return to your place.

The second reader
1. Comes to the ambo when the psalm is finished.
2. Before you read, adjust the microphone for your height, as the Psalmist may have pushed the microphone away.
3. At the end of the reading, after you say, “The Word of the Lord,” wait until you hear the music for the Gospel Acclamation, then return to your place.

Prayers of the Faithful
1. On a weekend that you are not scheduled to lector, consider volunteering to read the Prayers of the Faithful by signing up on the schedule or on the advance schedule on the lector bulletin board.
2. To practise, read through the prayers in the binder located on the Welcome Table once you have put your name on the schedule. (There may be typos, unfamiliar names or a change in wording required, so be sure there is time to check with someone if needed.)
3. The person who reads the Prayers of the Faithful will also need to ask someone to hold the prayer basket and explain the procedure:
The prayer basket will be on the Welcome Table as people arrive for Mass so that they can add intentions if they wish.
Leave the basket at the Welcome Table until a few minutes after Mass starts to give parishioners a chance to add their prayers.
The person who has volunteered to hold up the Prayer Basket may then take it to their seat.
4. Both the reader and the basket holder should approach the ambo as the priest starts to read the introduction to the Prayers of the Faithful. (Please don’t wait until he has finished as there should not be a pause in the action of the Mass at this point.)
5. The basket holder stands on the floor beside (and slightly in front of) the ambo.
6. When the reader reads the last prayer, which is always for the intentions in our prayer basket, the basket holder lifts the basket higher until the congregation has made their response. The basket may then be lowered.
7. Both the reader and basket holder wait at the ambo until the priest has read the concluding prayer. The priest says “Amen” and not the person reading the prayers.
8. Together, they place the basket and binder with the Prayers on the steps directly in front of the altar, and return to their seats.

Children’s Liturgy

A Children’s Liturgy is held on the 3rd Sunday of the month from September through June, at the 9:30 Mass. There is only one reading for this Liturgy, which is taken from the Book of Children’s Gospels.

One of the adult lectors acts as the Children’s Liturgy Coordinator. The Coordinator’s role is to:
invite an elementary student to be the lector for the reading;
provide him/her with a copy of the text a couple of weeks ahead of time so that the lector can practise (as we cannot take the Book of Children’s Gospels home);
meet with him/her at a convenient time (after or before Mass) to practise the reading.

1. Please arrive at church at least 15 minutes before Mass starts.
2. Before Mass, adjust the microphone for your height and make sure it is turned on.
3. The lector comes to the ambo when the Celebrant invites the children to come and sit on the blankets around the ambo.
4. Wait until everyone is quiet before beginning to read. The book will be open at the correct page.
5. Read slowly. Use a stronger voice than your normal talking voice.
6. Pause after the reading before you say “The Word of the Lord.”
7. Wait at the ambo (this will seem a very long) until you hear the music for the psalm. Then return to your place.

Using the Microphone

Practise adjusting the microphone for your height. Stand about four (4) to six (6) inches away from the microphone such that your voice is projected directly toward the microphone. Be careful not to tip your head downwards when you look down to read, since you will also be looking up to the congregation, i.e., use you eyes to look down at the Lectionary without tipping your head down.

Use a stronger voice than normal conversation, but not so loud that the microphone gives feedback.

New lectors would benefit from practising at the ambo with the microphone. The Lead Lector for the appropriate Mass may have already arranged a practice with the microphone. If that has not happened, try to practise in the church after the weekly practice and reflection session.

Lector Meetings

Lectors usually meet as a full group two or three times a year.

We review what is working well and what we may need to change in order to respond to the congregation’s needs and those of the lectors. The lectors meet to review how the schedule is working and in order to ensure continuity with scheduling.

We mutually decide on a meeting chairperson, and someone else takes notes.