Alter Server


            The word acolyte can be defined as one who assists in the liturgical celebrations of the church.  In the Roman Catholic Church Acolyte actually constitutes one of the official lay ministries that were returned to the church through the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.  These ministries replaced what had become the “minor orders” for men preparing to be ordained priests.  Although they were instituted as lay ministries, at the time of their restoration, only men in seminary were officially instituted in them.  Pope Francis has recently opened up this ministry to both men and women and can be commissioned as Acolytes by the Bishop.  Needless to say, this is a rather complex process and is why, in most parishes, rather than go through this official procedure adult men and women, as well as boys and girls are utilized in a less formal manner.

            In our parishes we make use of altar servers (boys and girls from 2nd grade to seniors) on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation and adult men and women as senior servers (formerly altar pappies). The service rendered by both of these groups is fundamentally the same, namely to assist in the celebration of the various liturgies of the Catholic Church.  Of course, in this regard the celebration of the Eucharist is first and paramount.

            So, what exactly do Acolytes do?  Actually, the ministry begins before the celebration.  Ideally, they arrive around 20 minutes prior to assist, in any way, in the preparations for the service.  They lead the procession of ministers and may carry the crucifix, candles, incense and any other liturgical items to be used by the priest and deacon.  Once in the sanctuary they go to their designated chairs and join the congregation in the prayers and responses.  One will bring the Roman Missal to the priest at the appropriate time, another will assist the deacon or priest in setting the altar and both will assist in the offertory and preparation of the gifts.

            One of the most important elements, and hopefully least noticed, is the composure of the acolyte.  Being situated in the sanctuary the acolyte can be easily noticed by the congregation.  If the acolyte is being prayerful and attentive to the liturgy then they serve as an example to the assembly.  If on the other hand they are fidgety and inattentive then they can become a distraction to the people and the liturgy itself.

            Needless to say, the acolyte has an essential role to play in the worship and praise that the Church offers to God.  The ministry, done well, serves not only God, but the people of God, the church.  If you are interested in joining this ministry, either as an altar server or senior server, or if you want more information regarding this ministry, please fill out the form below.

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