The opportunity to serve as an altar server is something of a rite of passage for many young men in the Catholic Church. After receiving their First Communion, moving from sitting in the pews with their family during Mass to serving on the altar is a big step for children. While we are all called to active participation in the Mass, becoming an altar server is an excellent way for the boys and young men of the parish to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the liturgy.
“In my experience, when people get active in the church as children, they tend to stay active,” says Deacon Pat O’Connor. “When we have young men up there serving and praying, it draws them deeper into the liturgy.”
Deacon Pat is in charge of the training program for the altar servers.
“In our training sessions, we don’t just teach them what their specific roles are,” he says. “We spend a lot of time going over theology and what is going on in the different parts of the Mass. It is one way that we can really focus on the Real Presence in the Eucharist as well.”
There is a sense of camaraderie among the altar servers of the parish. Altar servers move through the four levels of the training program as they gain experience and receive more training.
“As they serve and develop skills and knowledge, they move up in the ranks,” Deacon Pat says. “In the beginning, they learn the vocabulary and then learn where things are used. They learn the different parts of the Mass and eventually lead training sessions. It gives them a sense of responsibility and helps them appreciate what they are participating in. They learn to be present and aware, which can be hard for young kids. When they have a role and tasks at hand, it helps them to focus and experience everything in a deeper way.”
As the program builds up in participation numbers, the ministry plans to hold group gatherings in addition to the training sessions to give the altar servers the opportunity to have fun and get to know each other better. These meetings would allow everyone to ask more questions that they might have as well.
It can seem like a lot to a new altar server, but the monthly training sessions give the boys the opportunity to learn and gain confidence and skills as they serve. With the current boys in the program ranging in age from 9-17 years old, they learn from others.
“It all just goes back to stewardship,” Deacon Pat says. “We all have skills and the gift of time. We are called to use them appropriately. When it comes to being a part of the parish and the community, the ability to give of our time and talent starts early.”
Training sessions take place on the second Sunday of each month at 10:30 a.m. For more information, or to get involved, contact Deacon Pat O’Connor through the parish office at 719-597-4249.