Parish Life

Saint Mary Catholic Church
31 Shirley Street
Ayer, Massachusetts 01432

Saint Anthony of Padua Catholic Church
14 Phoenix Street, P.O. Box 595
Shirley, Massachusetts 01464-0595


Your talent is God’s gift to you.  What you do with it is your gift to God.  Each of the ministries has different time commitments, which change upon the needs of the parish.  Please call the Church office or see our more specifics below or for contact information.


General Ministries

Unless otherwise indicated please call for additional details, 978-772-2414. 

Altar Server

An altar server assists the priest during Mass by participating in the entrance procession, presentation of the gifts, setting the altar as well as holding the prayer books.  They serve during weekend and Holy Week liturgies.  This ministry is open to anyone in grades 4 and above who have received First Eucharist.  Altar servers must complete a course of instruction. 

Baptism Preparation

Preparing parents for the formation of their child’s faith. Contact the parish in which you wish to have your child baptized in. 

Eucharistic Adoration

The Blessed Sacrament is exposed and adored by volunteers who sign up for one hour or more to pray before the Lord Jesus present in the Monstrance.

Eucharistic Minister

This ministry allows parishioners to assist in the distribution of the Holy Communion at Mass.  

Faith Formation

Religious Education of the young is very important for the growth of the Church.  Classes begin when a child is in first grade and ends when they make their Confirmation.  Volunteering to become a Teacher, Aide, or Substitute will help in the passing of the faith for the next generation.

Finance Council

Advises the Pastor on financial matters of the parishes. Responsible for monitoring all income and expenses, and approving the annual budgets.

Flowers and Grounds

Volunteers who care for and beautify the grounds and church.


They welcome parishioners and visitors gathering for worship at weekend Masses and liturgical celebrations, offering assistance, helping them to feel at home and introducing new parishioners to others.  


This ministry allows parishioners to bring the Eucharist to the Homebound.


This ministry allows parishioners to bring the Eucharist to patients in the Hospital or Nursing Home.


They proclaim the Scriptures during Mass.  They devote time and preparation to understanding the Word of God so that all may hear and be open to God transforming their lives.  Lectors require very good reading skills.  They must complete a course of instruction and must have received Confirmation. 

Liturgical Linen Service

Responsible for the preparation and care of the altar linens. This includes the washing and ironing of purificators, corporals, and altar linens.

Men’s Prayer Group

All men are welcome! Men’s Prayer and Sharing Group
This group of men gathers on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month from 7:30 – 9:00 pm at St. Anthony’s Church to pray together and share with each other.  See contact information in the bulletin.

Offertory Counters

A group that counts the funds collected at Mass each week. Each group volunteers about once a month.

Parish Pastoral Council

The role of the PPC is to maintain the integrity of the parish mission and to establish and monitor the goals and objectives that promote the mission through ongoing pastoral planning. As a leadership body, selected from both parishes, the council serves as an advisory body to the pastor. 

Post-Baptismal Outreach

This ministry offers support and connection with the parish to the parents of the newly baptized. 


Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), Adults and older teens are invited to learn about and explore the Roman Catholic faith. This is a journey where the participants are introduced to the foundations of the faith through study and discussion with the directors and others on the journey. The goal of the RCIA process is to provide the participant with the knowledge needed to make an informed decision about joining the Catholic Church as an adult.  Participants may be non-Catholic or Catholics who have not completed their formation.  Leaders simply need to be people of faith who have a good understanding of the Catholic faith. 

The sacristans are responsible for setting the credence table (gifts) before Mass, preparing the altar for Mass, and washing and taking care of the Sacred Linens and Vessels after Mass. 

Social Committee

Volunteers who coordinate social activities and gatherings of parishioners during the year.

Spiritual Opportunities
Advent Retreat This is two evenings of prayer, presentation, reflection and sharing on Advent themes.
Lenten Retreat This is three evenings of prayer, presentation, reflection and sharing on Lenten 

Stations of the Cross
Held Friday's during Lent.

Theology on Tap
Is an invitation for curious Catholics to explore how faith in Christ can speak to their circumstances.  This is accomplished through gatherings which include a presentation by a well-informed and dynamic speaker and time for questions and answers.  The group meets at the Nashoba Club Restaurant in Ayer, MA.


The ushers assist in maintaining the orderly movement and seating of the assembly before and during liturgies.  They also collect the weekly offering.  

Volunteer Requirements

  • Protecting God's Children Workshop (one-time)  for all volunteers age 18 and above.  Click this link for a list of workshops:  PGC Training Schedule.
  • Annual background check (CORI) for volunteers age 17 and above.
  • Review and sign Code of Ministerial Behavior (for all volunteers age 17 and above).
  • Review 2013 Sexual Harassment Policy   (Archdiocese of Boston).
  • Review Policies and Procedures for the Protection of Children (Archdiocese of Boston). 

Welcome Committee

This committee welcomes people who are new in the town or new parishioners at either parish.  They provide information about parish life and help new parishioners become active members of the church community.  

Youth Group

 Youth Group This group offers fun, faith, and friendship for 7th through 10th graders, usually with a little food added to keep our engines going! Future projects include service days in the local area and our annual Mission Days projects .  They meet on the Second Saturday of the month.  All meetings are from 7:00 to 9:00 pm in the Youth Group Lounge at the old school building at St Mary's in Ayer.