Serving at the Altar
Anyone who has received their first Holy Communion is allowed to become an altar server in our parish, so what is involved?
The most important characteristic for an altar server is the ability to be invisible. Everything we do as a server should enable everyone in church to raise their minds and hearts to God. If we do anything to distract them or break their concentration, we fail. So, if you think you can be invisible, then there is no greater privilege than serving. Altar Servers learn not just how to serve but also the meaning behind the actions of the Mass and so gain a deep understanding of the holy sacrifice.
New servers are invited in January each year and receive in depth training once a week until Easter when they join the regular rota. The rota is to ensure that everyone has a turn at performing a particular role but all servers should be in the sanctuary at every Mass they attend. Training in more advanced serving duties take place as confidence develops and opportunity arises. The most senior serves hold the role of Master of Ceremonies, where they take control of whole ceremonies.
Once competent, servers are invited to join the Guild of Saint Stephen, the international organisation for Altar Servers. In joining the Guild servers make solemn promises to serve with care, reverence and understanding, particularly when they are needed, and to pray daily the Guild Prayer. Having made their promise servers are invested with the Guild’s bronze medal. After 10 years in the Guild servers who have shown significant involvement may be awarded a silver medal and after 50 years, a gold medal.
Our parish is very fortunate to currently have 10 servers who hold silver medals, and in total 73 servers on the regular rota. This is a reflection of the dedication that has existed in the parish since it was affiliated to the Guild in 1933, most appropriately as two National Directors of the Guild have served as Parish Priests in our parish: Monsignor Edward Sutton (1933 – 1964) and Fr Peter Latham (1993-2002) and our current Parish Priest, Fr Duncan, was a former Parochial Master of Ceremonies. Also, several of our parish’s altar servers have gone on to serve as priests.
If you would like to know more about serving please talk to one of the senior servers in the sacristy or email firstname.lastname@example.org.