Cross Bearers Ministry

Ministry of Cross Bearers


The mission of the Crossbearer Ministry at St. Bernardine is to represent our faith community in liturgical worship by carrying the cross as a reminder of Jesus’ passion, death, and triumph.

Ministry Background

The faith community of St. Bernardine of Siena Parish in Woodland Hills, CA, was founded in 1962 to serve the rapidly growing Roman Catholic population of the far west end of the San Fernando Valley. The parish quickly established a wide variety of liturgical, focused service, and educational ministries to support the needs of its parishioners and its community.

Early in St. Bernardine’s liturgical practice the use of a Crossbearer was employed primarily for special celebrations and the function was carried out by an altar server. Then, as the construction of the new church building was proceeding in 2001, the regular practice of a lay person carrying a Processional Cross at Sunday Mass and other special celebrations was initiated. The liturgical ministry of Crossbearers was founded at that time to develop, recruit for and support the new practice. New recruits for the ministry are continuously needed and welcomed.

Since ancient times the Church has used the Crossbearer, sometimes called a crucifer, in its celebrations to bear witness to and to remind the faithful with a powerful symbol of our redemption through Christ’s suffering. Traditionally, acolytes or altar servers performed this function.

In current times the Church has described the Crossbearer ministry in the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM). The GIRM 2003 speaks of the Crossbearer as a lay minister deputed by the priest. Also described is the order of the processions, the placement of the Cross, and the type of Cross to be carried.

Within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the ministry is open to all Catholics in good standing who have received Baptism and Eucharist. Members should reflect the face of the parish. Practically, the Crossbearer must have the strength to carry a 20 pound Cross.

This information has been assembled to provide basic insight into the activities of the Crossbearer Ministry. Any further questions about the ministry or suggestions to improve its support of the community are welcomed.

Crossbearer Responsibilities

Crossbearers should dress with decorum befitting the celebration of the Eucharist. Liturgical vesture is not worn.

There are three points during Mass at which the Processional Cross is carried: the Entrance, the Presentation, and the Final Processions. If there is no incense or liturgical dancer, the Cross leads all processions. You should check prior to Mass if any special activities may occur that affect the processions.

Entrance Procession. Before Mass begins retrieve the Cross from its place at the rear side of the Altar and carry it with dignity via the side aisle to the rear of the church (see route #1) where the priest and other ministers gather. On rare occasions, such as Palm Sunday, the procession may start outside the church or from another location.

After the Gathering Song has begun, hold the Cross high enough for the faithful to see, yet manageable enough so that the top part does not wobble. Wait for a head nod or cue from the celebrant to begin the procession.

Lead the procession down the center aisle (route #2) by walking slowly, prayerfully, with dignity. Once you reach the front of the Altar you DO NOT BOW. Simply pause for a heartbeat before making a left turn around the side of the Altar to the Cross stand.

Replace the Cross quietly and carefully into the stand without calling attention to yourself, making sure the Cross is positioned correctly. Then walk slowly, prayerfully to your seat which should be at the end of the pew behind the altar servers for easy access to the Cross.

Presentation of Gifts. While the Collection is being taken up, retrieve the Cross, walking slowly and prayerfully, taking the same route as before the Entrance Procession (route #1), and wait near the baptismal pool. By doing so, you are indicating to those who will be presenting the Gifts to make their way toward the table in the back where the bread and wine are located.

The Collection will then be combined; the basket, candles, and Gifts will be handed by an usher to the presenters. Once that is completed and you have a cue from the usher, begin the procession to the Altar (route #2). The Cross will lead followed by the candles, the Collection Basket, and the Bread and Wine. The Procession must not be hurried. The pace should be prayerful and dignified. As with the entrance procession, the Crossbearer pauses for a heartbeat in front of the Altar (DO NOT BOW) before making a left turn around the side of the Altar. (Note: Be careful at this point because the Gift bearers may have stepped in your path.) The Crossbearer returns the Cross to its stand in correct position and returns to his/her seat.

Final Procession. After the Final Blessing, retrieve the Cross (slowly, prayerfully) for the final time to get ready for the exit procession (route #2). After the final charge to the faithful, go to your place in the front of the Altar.

Make sure you leave enough space for all the other ministers in front of you. You will be leading the procession, so as the ministers face the Altar, you are behind all of them.

Once the ministers have bowed before the Altar (the Crossbearer DOES NOT BOW) and they begin to turn, you then turn with them to lead the procession slowly down the main aisle.

After the final procession, once you reach the main door area, lower the Cross, turn right and walk over near the Sacristy door. Stand there with the Cross until after the closing song and until you are able to return the Cross to its place without "swimming like a salmon" up the stream of people going the opposite way. Do not leave the Cross propped up against the wall in the back of the Church. Once you have replaced the Cross on its stand correctly, your service is completed.


Ministry Operations

A bimonthly schedule of minister assignments by date and Mass is mailed or e-mailed to the ministers. The schedule is also posted in the ushers’ room at the back of the church, and published on the parish website. No telephone reminder is made. If you have a schedule conflict, please contact an alternate and notify the ministry lead.

Plan on being at your assigned Mass and retrieving the Cross at least five minutes beforehand. If you realize that an assignee has not shown up, please step forward and serve in their place.

The ministry does not hold meetings except for an occasional training session for new ministers. The ministry does not receive or solicit financial support from the parish or its members.

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