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Questions are often asked regarding the need for or purpose of a diocesan altar guild. We have compiled some helpful suggestions for you. You will be surprised how many resources you can provide.

First of all, get acquainted with your bishop and offer your assistance. You will always work at their discretion! You may have a representative from each deanery and create a board which will work directly with the bishop. Our group meets four times a year.

Your work may begin with helping with your Convention Eucharists or large gatherings such as ordinations, confirmations, the Chrism Mass, ECW gatherings or special clergy events.

You may hold an annual meeting. The Bishop presides and there is a Eucharist. Plan an informative program with workshops for all the altar guilds in the diocese. When deciding on workshops, consider that practical suggestions — candles, silver and brass, and linen care — are always valued. This is also a good opportunity to deconsecrate and burn old, worn white linens.

At Convention or your annual meetings, you might also offer a “Free Market Exchange” where no money changes hands but any liturgical item that is no longer used may be made available to those seeking gently used liturgical supplies. It creates a lively exchange and makes us all good stewards.

You can be a wonderful resource for your priest or rector and your diocese. You may be able to support the chapel at a Retreat Center. You can offer to help clean out a sacristy, order new linens and vestments and/or provide altar guild training refresher classes throughout the deanery or your diocese.

If there are those who sew, patterns and ideas can be provided. You may also offer help with repairs. Some dioceses welcome flower guild support. Hold workshops. Flower demonstrations are always inspiring and enjoyed.

A diocesan newsletter is a wonderful way to share information as well as get acquainted with each other and individual churches. This may even be mailed electronically to cut down on costs.

If your diocese has a website, ask to be part of it and use it for further exchanges of liturgical items such as furniture, paraments or bigger items. You can share information throughout the diocese.

Most of all, share the joys and blessings of this most special ministry which is always done to God’s glory.

by Sarah Hill, Directress, Diocese of Southwest Florida

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