Altar Servers



Paul Thompson, Altar ServerAltar Servers perform most of the functions of the former "minor order" of ordained clerics known as acolytes from the Greek word akolouthos or 'attendant'. Church writings from the second and third centuries discuss the role of acolytes, giving the office great importance and honor in the history of the Church. Altar servers today are not ordained, but are 'commissioned' by the pastor.


The primary role of the altar server is to assist the priest in the celebration of the liturgy during Mass. This is done through specific actions and by setting an example to the congregation by active participation in the liturgy, i.e. joining in the singing of hymns and responses, and by looking alert and sitting or standing at the appropriate times.


Servers carry the cross, the processional candles, hold the book for the priest when he is not at the altar, carry the incense and censer if used, and present the bread, wine and water to the priest during the perparation of the gifts. The server also assists the priest after he receives the gifts from the people in the washing of hands prior to the beginning of the prayer of consecration.


Altar servers are seated in the Sanctuary and play a vital role in the Liturgy, therefore a server must attend if scheduled to be on duty and is responsible to find a replacement if unable to do so. Servers are on duty from the moment they enter the sanctuary at the start of Mass until they finish cleanup after the Liturgy.


An Altar Server's Prayer

Loving Father, Creator of the universe, You call your people to worship, to be with you and with each other at Mass. Help me to help others in prayer. Thank you for the trust You've placed in me. Keep me true to that trust. I make my prayer in Jesus' name, who is with us in the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Altar servers receive training for this important ministry and anyone interested in learning more is asked to contact the church office at (415) 332 1765.