Altar Service


As the altar servers’ ministry, we assist the celebrant and worshipping community in the celebration of the Liturgy of the Mass, special Liturgies and celebrations, and the celebration of the sacraments. We are blessed to have an intricate role in the Mass, performing specific actions and setting an example to the congregation by our active participation in the Liturgy. It is our hope that the tasks we perform will help out worship to draw all of us to participate in an intimate way during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to desire unity with Jesus Christ.

For almost 1,800 years, the ministry of altar boys has brought about countless priestly vocations.

Even today, the USCCB’s 2014 Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood (prepared by CARA: Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate) revealed a whopping 80 percent of the 365 ordinands to the priesthood who responded to the survey said they were altar boys in their formative years.

How did this ministry get started and how has it changed over the years?

Actually, there is no history written about altar boys or the use of that name during the early days of the Church except for the word acolyte.

The earliest mention of the term came around 250 years after the Resurrection of Jesus from St. Tarcisius, who was a 12-year-old acolyte in the 3rd or 4th century (circa 251 A.D). Because there were no deacons present at a morning Mass, he was chosen to take the communion bread to prisoners awaiting execution. Along the way, he was attacked by a group of similar-aged boys and killed. He is a patron saint of altar boys. However, after canonizing St. JOHN BERCHMANS, he was declared as the patron saint of altar boys.

In 9th century, at the Synod of Mainz, a decree was passed that “every priest should have a cleric or boy to read the epistle or lesson, to answer him at Mass, and with whom he can chant the psalms.”

This is a clear indication for the substitution of altar boys for minor clerics of acolyte dating back for more than 1,000 years. Since this privilege was granted, altar boys have had an active part in divine worship.

The ministry of acolyte was instituted, by the Church, as a sacramental participation in the order of deacon. As preparatory steps to priesthood, an aspirant once passed through the minor ranks of Holy Orders: Tonsure, Porter, Lector, Exorcist, and Acolyte.

Acolyte, therefore, is the highest of minor Orders, and whose chief duties are to carry candles in procession, to light the candles on the altar, and to assist the priest in saying the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

During the Renaissance period (1600s), artists began painting sacred images of Mass celebrations and included altar boys assisting the priest at Mass. Before that time, no one really knew what altar servers wore. In most cases, the altar boys were always pictured wearing red or black cassocks and a white linen or lace surplice over it.

Historically, the role of altar server has always been reserved to males. The issue of having female servers came up in the Church as early as 1755, when Pope Benedict XIV (14th) condemned the practice in his Encyclical AllataeSunt (On the Observance of Oriental Rites).

When the issue resurfaced again in the 1970s and again in the 1980s, the Vatican again condemned female altar servers.

It was not until March 15, 1994 that the Vatican (Pope John Paul II) officially allowed female altar servers. While the Vatican permits the use of female altar servers, it cannot force a pastor to allow female servers in his parish. It is ultimately the choice of the pastor.

In some parishes, where the pastor encourages the ministry, there are as many as 30- 40 servers. Training is usually provided once a year (usually at the beginning of a new school year) and mentoring from older servers is common, as part of the training.

“Altar serving is one of the oldest, most venerable ministries in the Church,” said Father Scott Chemino, vicar general and pastor at St. Anthony Church in Bunkie. “I have always encouraged boys to participate in the ministry. I am an altar boy, too, when I was younger, and I know that countless priests have discerned a vocation to the priesthood, that began with their service as an altar server.”

“I encourage young people to consider serving as an altar server, and to sign up soon for training and participation in a ministry filled with love of the Eucharist and spiritual graces.”

We Altar Servers, actively participate in every Eucharistic celebration we serve. And actively take part in most of the parish activities or programs.

– Altar Servers should not leave the sanctuary after the start of Mass for any reason except bathroom emergencies, illness, or when directed to do so by the priest.
– Serve at every mass that you scheduled for, or make arrangements to have someone cover the mass
– Arrive at least 15 minutes before the Mass starts to get dressed and make sure that the Altar is prepared
– Make sure the candles are lit, bread, wine, water, towels, bowl, prayer book, and any other sacramentals are in their proper place
– Perform the duties assigned during the mass in the prescribed orderly manner
– Maintain a prayerful posture during all times in the Sacristy (if you are not doing something your hands should be folded in your lap)
– After the mass, return to the Sanctuary, Sacristy, and preparation areas to ensure that everything is set up for the next mass
– Be quiet and respectful when on the Altar, you are role models
– Be attentive and respond immediately when the priest asks for help
– Make sure that your Surplice are returned the way you found them

We meet every Saturday at 3:00 PM. We meet at class room no.3 in St. Anthony’s Friary Church.