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Altar Servers – So much more than a gown

Photo courtesy: St Francis of Assisi Sangre Grande

Witnessing what takes place during Mass is a beautiful experience not all Catholics fully understand or appreciate.

Has it ever crossed your mind to be like the persons serving at the altar of the Lord? No, not the priest, deacon or extraordinary minister. We’re talking about Altar Servers—ordinary people also capable of doing extraordinary things.

Are you an altar server? Do you believe this about yourself?

On November 23, Our Lady of the Assumption, South Oropouche held an Altar Servers’ conference titled ‘Joy in His Presence’ for parishes in the Southern Vicariate. It was designed to energise altar servers of all ages, an initiative the parish felt was necessary as many servers across the Archdiocese seem to lack zeal while serving on the altar.

You will be surprised to learn there is no retirement age for the ministry! This was shared by one of the day’s guest speakers, 40-year-old senior altar server, Anthony Alexander. In fact, once the Sacrament of Holy Communion is received (around the age of 6), you are allowed to be initiated into the altar server ministry.

Alexander went on to say, “There’s often the perception this ministry is for the children but it is for anyone who wants to take the ministry seriously. It is a ministry where you become close witnesses to Christ’s presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.”

He reminded the group of predominantly young people, “it is easy to be distracted in today’s world” but the Altar Server Ministry, of which they are a part, is one to be lived within their communities, homes and workplaces.

Alexander also challenged those gathered to mirror attributes of St Dominic Savio; helping others, fostering obedience, discipline, a cheerful nature and a strong prayer life.

St Dominic Savio died at the age of 14 and is the patron saint of juveniles.

Adding to Alexander’s commentary, parish priest of Our Lady of Assumption, Fr Pax Jey-Sharwan VC reminded the young people that they, with the presiding priest, are part of the “sanctification of all the members of the Church”.

Our Lady of the Assumption parish priest, Fr Pax Jey Sharwan VC

“Serving is not about you but everything involves you. St Dominic Savio worked very hard, he was punctual and would come to church and kneel down without being told. He showed his love for God inside and outside of the church’s walls.”

Another highlight of the conference was ‘A synopsis of the Old and New Mass’ delivered by liturgy expert, Paul Charles. Fr Pax commented it was important for the altar servers to be taught the foundations of the Mass celebrated today. He said, “The work that you do today as altar servers has a beginning and if you don’t know where you are coming from then you will have a problem knowing where you are supposed to go. Let us never forget we are serving with the hope that our spiritual lives are growing with every second spent on the altar.”

5 reasons for becoming an Altar Server
1. There’s a humility you adopt while serving that breaks you. Let it break! You become the sweet perfume when it is broken. (Matt 26:7-10)
2. Suffering as an altar server bears spiritual fruit
3. You learn that the altar and serving on it takes us away from the ordinary to the extraordinary
4. Heightened sense of discernment
5. You make some great friends

– By Renee Smith

Email: comms.camsel@catholictt.org Twitter: @rsmith_ctt