By Charmaine Thomas and Jade Downer
As a Catholic parent, it is a significant responsibility, particularly in these tech-focused, modern times, to ensure that our kids are not only raised in the Church and open to participating in the sacraments for their spiritual development and to initiate a relationship with Jesus, but also that they are raised as part of the domestic Church.
This is a story of my daughter Jade and me, and our journey through the Sacrament of Confirmation, the choices that were made to serve the Church together, and ultimately, the abundant blessings we received individually and as a family.
In 2016, Jade registered to attend Confirmation classes at St Finbar’s RC Church in Diego Martin, and at the registration was asked how she would like to be of service to the Church.
Like most typical teenagers, she wasn’t keen to do anything in particular, and especially not altar serving. However, I encouraged her (maybe pushed, ever so gently) and she agreed to become an altar server.
Jade served during the tenure of her Confirmation programme (2016–2018) and then after Confirmation, while still serving, she was led to become a Catechist Assistant (2018–2021).
In her own words, Jade shares her experiences, first as an altar server and then as a Catechist Assistant.
“It’s hard for teens to step out of their comfort zone and be involved in services at Church. Altar serving literally puts you up front and centre at every Mass and this can be intimidating especially since initially, we come to Church not fully understanding everything we do and why we do it, and then we are expected to do it in front of the whole congregation.”
She adds, “Altar serving means we have to pay attention throughout the entire Mass. I did learn a lot and had the opportunity to serve at the major Masses like the Triduum, and even an ordination with the Archbishop as celebrant. This ceremony involved additional learning and executing new protocols.”
Serving the Church is not new to our family, as I have been a catechist since 2018, as well as lector and a volunteer in the Hospitality Ministry. My son Jude also followed in his sister’s footsteps and is an altar server.
Following Confirmation, Jade made the decision to continue in service to the Church and in 2018, became a Catechist Assistant—maybe in part due to my own involvement, but I believe she was called by the Holy Spirit to continue in service.
Jade has relished this role and said, “Being a Catechist Assistant has given me the opportunity to give feedback and share my opinion from a young adult perspective, as well as to learn about a topic from a different view and gain additional insight. It has allowed me to learn how to interact with other teenagers, and really understand the catechism material having gone through it a second time.”
When Jade first signed up, it was mentioned by Jane, our Programme Leader/Coordinator, that she had witnessed the maturity of many teens who became altar servers and served the Church, and, the blessings they received in their educational pursuits, as they all got accepted into top universities.
At the time, our service to the Church was purely out of our love for our faith and the benefits of serving God that cannot be measured.
We had no idea that we too would experience these blessings when it came time for Jade to apply to attend university. Not only did we receive one blessing of a scholarship that in itself was reason for celebration and thanksgiving, but it was doubled as Jade received two scholarships—the second one was as a direct result of her service to her community as an altar server and Catechist Assistant.
I cannot emphasise enough how grateful we are for these gifts and are happy to share this as our testimony of God’s goodness in the fulfilment of His promises. When we give in service and otherwise, He will provide all that we need and much more than we can ask.