Glossary of Church Terms
Sacramentary: The book used by the celebrant, containing all the prayers for the liturgy of the Mass.
Sanctuary: That part of the church where the altar is located.
Second Vatican Council: A major meeting of the Bishops of the world convened by Pope John XXIII to bring about a renewal of the Church for the second half of the 20th century. It ran from 1962 to 1965 and produced important documents in liturgy, ecumenism, communications and other areas.
Secular Institutes: Societies of men and women living in the world who dedicate themselves to observe the evangelical counsels and to carry on apostolic works suitable to their talents and opportunities in every day life.
See: Another name for diocese or archdiocese.
Seminary: An educational institutional for men preparing for Holy Orders.
Serra Club: Local units of Serra International, an organization which promotes vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and offers instructions to lay leaders.
Shrine: Erected to encourage private devotions to a saint, it usually contains a picture, statue or other religious feature capable of inspiring devotions.
Sign of Peace: Before sharing the body of Christ the members of the community are invited to express their love and peace with one another.
Sign of the Cross: A sign, ceremonial gesture or movement in the form of a cross by which a person confesses faith in the Holy Trinity and Christ, and intercedes for the blessing of himself, other persons, and things.
Sister: Any woman religious, in popular speech, strictly, the title applies to those women Religious belonging to institutes whose members never professed solemn vows, most of which institutes were established during and since the 19th century.
Sodality: A group of laity, established for the promotion of Christian life and worship, or some other religious purpose.
St. Vincent de Paul Society: An organization of lay persons who serve the poor through spiritual and material works of mercy. The society operates stores, rehabilitation workshops, food centers, shelters, criminal justice and other programs.
Stations of the Cross: Also known as The Way of the Cross, this devotion to the suffering of Christ consist of prayers and meditations on fourteen occurences experienced by Christ on His way to His crucifixion. Each of these occurances is represented by a cross. This can be done individually, or in groups with one person leading the prayers and moving from cross to cross.
Stole: The vestment worn around the neck by all ordained ministers. For priests, bishops and Pope, it hangs down in front (under the chasuble); the deacons wear it over their left shoulder crossed and fastened at the right side.
Superior: The head of a religious order or congregation. He or she may be the head of a province, or an individual house.
Surplice: a loose, flowing vestment of white fabric with wide sleeves. For some functions it is interchangeable with an alb.
Synod: A gathering of designated officials and representatives of a church, with legislative and policymaking powers.