LITURGY MATTERS: From ‘Headmaster’ to ‘Master of the House’! (Part IV)

This week Louise Outram, one of the Assistant Masters of Ceremonies reflects on her experience of ministry.  The pink sash Louise is wearing in the photo indicates she is ministering as an AMC.  Traditionally the Master of Ceremonies wears the Bishop’s colour.  When the discernment and formation process is complete the AMC will wear appropriate vesture.

My name is Louise Outram and I am a recently retired Catholic Primary School Principal. I have always been actively involved in my faith and over the years I have worshipped at different Churches with my longest associations being St Kevin’s Cardiff and the Sacred Heart Cathedral Hamilton.

Before I began as server at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in 2015, the ministries I was most involved in were Minister of the Word and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. In 2018 I was invited to participate in the Assistant Master of Ceremonies discernment and formation process. My involvement seemed a natural progression from serving at the Cathedral - as the Cathedral is the gathering point of many Diocesan celebrations I had some experience in “managing” significant liturgies.

Currently there are six of us acting as AMC across the Diocese – Allen Brierley, Chris Lovell, Ailis Macpherson, Rick McCosker, Peter Owens and myself. We meet formally as a group every two months under the guidance of Father Andrew Doohan, Diocesan Master of Ceremonies and Sister Louise Gannon Diocesan Coordinator of Liturgy. These meetings have two main aspects one being very practical, looking at how and why things are done a certain way, forward planning for major celebrations and allocating an AMC to individual liturgies. The second component of our gatherings is one of spiritual formation when we spend time reflecting on God’s word and sharing with those present.

The ministry of Assistant Master of Ceremonies supports the liturgical life of the  Diocese by serving the presider, be that Bishop Bill or Father Andrew Doohan, Vicar General. A significant part of the role is familiarising ourselves with the liturgy that has been prepared so that it flows as intended.  Local communities with the support of Sister Louise Gannon do the hard yards of physically preparing the Master Copy of the liturgy and we work from the finished product. It is vitally important that the AMC know what is happening on the night so that by overseeing the practical tasks, we free up the presider so that those participating in the celebration are enabled to be truly present.

I am finding that the more liturgies in which I am involved, the more confident I am becoming in the ministry, and the growing confidence allows me to better serve both the presider and the worshiping community.

As one of the Diocesan AMC I have the privilege of travelling to other parishes. Primarily I am there to assist the presider, but I am also there to serve the parish community by providing ministry support on important occasions.

I love this opportunity to visit Churches I have not seen and meet wonderful people committed to their faith and parish, even occasionally catching up with very old friends. When you see parishioners being involved in a celebration with which they have no familial connection, you see ordinary people giving witness. In every parish you visit similar groups of people are working to support their parishes, this Diocese and God’s work.

These hardworking people belong to Sacramental Teams and Liturgy groups, they form choirs, they serve, they cantor…

I am always greeted with such graciousness by the various parish communities I visit that it makes my task a joy. Lately most of my AMC ministry has been for Confirmations. Another great joy is witnessing the look of wonder on the faces of those being confirmed. Positioned where I am I have a front row seat for the actual Confirmation and it is a delight to watch the faces of the young people, as they are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

“Those who have been baptised continue on the path of Christian initiation through the sacrament of Confirmation. In this way, they receive the Holy Spirit, conforming them more perfectly to Christ and strengthening them so that they may bear witness to Christ for the building up of his body in faith and love.” (Rite of Confirmation)

I am privileged to travel the Diocese in my ministry as AMC.  Encountering Christ in so many varied communities renews my hope in the future of our Church.

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