After receiving First Holy Communion, becoming an altar server is something of a rite of passage for many Catholic youth. We are called to full and active participation in the Mass and being an altar server is a great way for kids to experience that. While sitting in the pew, it can be easy for your mind to wander and to become distracted. However, when one is serving on the altar, attention is needed to fulfill your duties and participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Deacon Chris Kennedy has recently taken over the altar server training program.
“We have different levels for our altar server training so that kids get the opportunity to learn and gain experience,” Deacon Chris says. “This also allows them to learn from older servers and to really get to know the different parts of the Mass.”
These different levels that the altar servers train for have different names as they learn the roles. In the beginning, new servers are on the altar with older and more experienced youth. This level is called Guardian Angel because they “stand guard” on the altar. At this level, they learn when to sit, stand, and kneel. They learn what is expected of them as well as getting a better handle on the order of the Mass. After they feel more comfortable at this level, they move on to the Torch Bearer level. Their duties include carrying the candles for the processional, Gospel, and recessional. Additionally, they bring the items from the credence table to prepare the altar for the Consecration. Cross Bearers lead the processional, as well as leading in the offertory procession when the gift bearers bring up the gifts. This level has the most experience and understanding of the order of Mass. They serve well to help the younger altar servers learn.
“We have found that the younger servers learn so well from the older kids,” Deacon Chris says. “So part of our training program is to have the older and more experienced servers work to train and direct the younger ones. They pass on their knowledge and it is an important part of being engaged, and experiencing the Mass more deeply.
“I have had servers who have mentioned that to me, ‘I never realized that before, but I am right there on the altar seeing it,’” he adds. “They are so privileged to be that close to where the sacrament is taking place. We hope to open their eyes to see that they are participating in the sacrament — the source and summit of the Christian life.”
When the altar servers start to get into high school, the opportunities for being involved in different ministries really open up. They can start getting involved as lectors, greeters, or Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Servers need to be at Mass 20-30 minutes early. This is a great opportunity for the whole family to get involved in the different ministries that are available on Sunday mornings. While their children are preparing to serve, the parents and rest of the family can serve as greeters, lectors, or Extraordinary Ministers. With the ease of our scheduling app, this makes it possible to schedule the whole family to participate on the same day, at the same Mass time.
“Being involved at the church is important and keeping our kids engaged is crucial,” Deacon Chris says. “By having parents involved as well, it really reinforces that message to the children. Additionally, they see what other opportunities are available to them as they get older and may no longer be altar servers. They are more likely to transition somewhere else and stay in ministry at the parish.”
To learn more about the altar server training program, contact Deacon Chris Kennedy at 303-688-3025 or email@example.com.