When visiting other parishes I noticed that there are differences in the order of the procession at the beginning of Mass. Is there a particular order that should be followed?
The diocesan Pastoral Manual (C-43) and the Ceremonial for Bishops address this question and state that order of the entrance procession is (in most Masses) as follows:
1. Thurifer (together with or followed by boat) (if incense is to be used)
2. Processional cross
4. Readers if part of procession*
5. Book of Gospels (by the deacon of the word)**
6. Visiting deacons
7. Concelebrating priests
8. Presider (along with deacon of the altar)***
9. Master of ceremonies
* Readers and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist are not generally part of the procession. However, the presider may, at his option, invite readers to process.
** If a deacon is not present at the Mass, the Book of Gospels may be placed on the altar before Mass or, alternatively, a reader may carry the Book of Gospels in the absence of a deacon. If a deacon is at Mass, it is preferred that the Book of Gospels be used. If a Book of Gospels is not available, the deacon should process alongside the presider.
*** When the bishop presides, the deacon of the altar should walk slightly behind the bishop.