The office of Lector is the oldest of the lesser degrees of ordination and appears in the second century writings of Tertullian (160-230 AD). In the beginning, lectors were also teachers. Eventually, lectors' duties were absorbed by higher orders (Deacon = Gospel; Sub Deacon = Epistle). The Lector became a seldom-used minor order (at the seminary). Prior to Vatican Council II (1960's and earlier), Mass was a one-man service with the priest proclaiming all three readings.
Lectors usually read for Sunday and Holy Day Masses. They are required to attend a training session at least once a year and, after the training they are commissioned to serve.
Commissioned Lectors who wish to serve at weekend liturgies can pick the Mass time which they prefer and also select second and third preferences, if they wish. Schedules are prepared to assure that each Mass has the required number of Lectors. They are usually scheduled for the Mass they most prefer to attend. If they have second and third Mass preferences, they can be scheduled accordingly.
Any planned absences can be scheduled in advance by contacting the parish office. For any unforeseen absences which arise after the schedule has been prepared, the Proclaimer must arrange for a substitute by contacting another member of the ministry who would be willing to fill-in.
What is a Lector?