Because of its importance, the role of usher has had a long history in the Catholic Church. Referred to as porters in the Third Century, ushers used to guard the church doors against disruptive intruders. Today, ushers serve the opposite function by being the first to welcome parishioners and visitors to mass. Depending on the parish, they also assist in a variety of other ways.
Ushers greet and welcome mass attendees at the church entrance ways. They serve as representatives of the church, and therefore their demeanor and body language should reflect its hospitality. Also, they assist attendees as needed with finding a seat, paying particular attention to those with special needs. During crowded services, assisting with seating is especially important.
Ushers sit at the back of the church and participate fully in the service. When late-comers arrive, ushers help minimize disruptions by locating seats for them. Ushers are also responsible for passing around the collection baskets. During communion, they assist the eucharistic ministers by pointing out those who cannot proceed through the communion line and therefore need communion brought to them.
Once the mass is over, ushers stand by the church doors to distribute the weekly bulletin. They also straighten up all the pews. This task may include collecting trash, collecting worship aids for reuse or recycling, and picking up articles left behind.