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Sacristies in our lives help us flourish in call to go forth

I have been thinking about sacristies lately.  In the past many months I have had the chance to visit quite a few.  As parishes across the archdiocese reach their goal for the Archbishop's Annual Appeal,  I often have the opportunity to attend Mass and offer words of gratitude to the parishioners for their prayers, financial support and sacrifice. 

This has been such a gift to me as I have visited dozens of Catholic churches across northeast Nebraska, many magnificent, and all beloved homes of worship and community.

When I arrive at a church for these visits, I first go to the sacristy to connect with the pastor.  I have come to think of these rooms as sacred centers of activity as I witness the interaction of all those preparing for Mass - altar servers filling the cruets, liturgists reviewing the day's readings, deacon and priest vesting, others stopping in to check the schedule for next week. 

I love being the "fly on the wall" watching the friendly interaction and seemingly choreographed movements while I wait to speak with the presiding priest.  But typically I am drawn into the dance with warm greetings and introductions.  I appreciate that, with all the points of preparation, anyone would have time for this. 

I was at St. Lawrence Church in Scribner a month ago, and those of us in the sacristy managed a quick and dear discussion about the fact that the birds finally found their voice, and we knew spring had to be around the corner.

I was surprised to learn that the sacristy is not an official sacred space in the canonical sense.  It is not consecrated with the church, yet it is where the vestments, church furnishings and sacred vessels are kept.  The sacristy is the preparation room from which the priest, deacon and servers go forth into the sacrament. 

Pope Francis talked about these vestments, ointments and going forth during his homily at the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass.  He spoke to the "beauty of these liturgical things" but was clear that their import is as reminders of the "burdens...of our faithful people" that priests may feel upon their shoulders.  These liturgical tools are symbolic of the sacred call to "be for" others. 

Our Holy Father offered a striking call to action: "The power of grace comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others."

As stewards, we are all called to action and to daily put on our own vestments of love and grace.  And we need sacristies in our lives.  We need moments and places where we can prepare ourselves to go forth, to be disciples of Jesus and "be for" others.  

We may not be bringing holy oils, but we are called to bring ourselves and the loving message of Christ to those around us.  It is good to find the sacristies around us that help us flourish in that call.

Shannan Brommer is the director of the Archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development. Contact her at

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