Expert Answer Forum

Altar Servers QUESTION from Roy Forker May 13, 1999
There are seldom altar servers at our Masses. I've just heard it's because parents are disgruntled with our pastor. Realizing it's a touchy situation, what are the Church's teachings and wishes on the following: 1) Do parents have an obligation to encourage their young to be active altar servers? From the point of view of future vocations and from the point of view of service to the community? 2) Shouldn't CCD programs also encourage the young in this direction? 3) Apparently altar servers are no longer required but what is the Church's mind on this issue? Thanks in Advance for your help, Roy ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on May 19, 1999
Dear Roy, Thanks for your question. Parents have a duty to ensure that their children are educated in our faith. There is no mandate for parents to provide altar servers. Of course parents should encourage their children to serve where needed, as should CCD programs. On the other hand it's understandable and even desirable for a parent to discourage a child from serving if such service would scandalize the child. For example, I wouldn't encourage my sons to serve in a parish where things like liturgical dancing or other liturgical abuses frequently occur. A good spiritual director is of great value in situations like this. Servers are generally expected to be part of the Mass but this is not an absolute requirement. The faithful should serve the people of God willingly when asked to perform some particular ministry in the celebration. . . The acolyte is instituted to serve at the altar and to assist the priest and deacon. In particular it is for him to prepare the altar and the vessels and, as a special minister of the Eucharist, to give communion to the faithful. [The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 62 and 65] I hope this helps. Yours in Christ, John Miskell Back to Index Page

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