St Francis of Assisi Parish

Roman Catholic Church - Mississauga Ontario

Ministry of Servers

“In the liturgy, you are much more than simple “helpers of the parish priest.” Above all, you are servers of Jesus Christ, of the eternal High Priest. Thus, you, altar servers, are called in particular to be young friends of Jesus.” Pope John Paul II to Gathering of Altar Servers, August 12, 2000

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Faithfulness of their responsibilities and duties as Altar Servers, and we are grateful for the contribution they have made to our Parish.

Advice to Altar Servers

You have been given a divine privilege above all earthly honors in being permitted within the sanctuary to serve at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, at which the Church gives to God, officially and in the name of all, the worship that is due to Him alone.

In earlier times, only ordained acolytes, that is, clerics in the fourth minor order conferred upon candidates to the priesthood, were permitted to serve at Mass. Today, when the number of clerics in minor orders is smaller, custom has tolerated specially-selected laymen to substitute in these duties.

As an altar server, you should reflect the same attitude as the priest in celebrating Holy Mass. Specifically, you should perform your liturgical duties digne, attente, devote, that is worthily, attentively, and devoutly, in body, mind, and heart. Your sacred duties require of you the greatest reverence in the sanctuary, the deepest attention to your duties, and the most zealous preparation of all your liturgical actions.

You should always conduct yourselves worthily in your position, a position to which even the angels of heaven cannot aspire. If you serve with care and devotion, you will edify the congregation, who look to you as an example for the proper disposition of assisting at Mass. If, however, you perform your duties with haste, carelessness, and inattention, you will degrade “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven,” the worship of Almighty God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In and around the church, in the sacristy, and especially around the altar, you should show by your demeanor the holiness of the duties that you are performing. Even your exterior cleanliness should be a mark of your interior purity of heart. You should, of course, avoid any levity, irreverence, and idle talk in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Before Mass, when you are waiting for the procession to the altar, you should be preparing your mind and heart for the sacred duties upon which you are about to enter. At the altar your movements should be stately and dignified, not hasty or affected.

The vestments that you wear, the cassock and the surplice, are actually clerical vestments that by exception those specially-selected laymen assisting at the altar are permitted by custom to wear. You should always put them on prayerfully, with your attention on the sacred duties that you are about to enter upon. It is laudable to say a prayer before putting on these vestments:

For the Cassock

Dominus, pars hereditatis meae et calicis mei, tu es qui restitues heretitatem meam. Amen.
O Lord, the portion of my inheritance and my chalice, You are He who will restore my inheritance. Amen.

For the Surplice

Indue me, Domine, novum hominem, qui secundum Deum creatus est in iustitia et sanctitate veritatis. Amen.
Invest me, O Lord, as a new man, who was created by God in justice and the holiness of truth. Amen.
Devout altar servers have been the cause of conversions to the faith. On the other hand, careless servers have been the cause of the failure of souls to come to the faith. It is said that the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was kept from the Faith by the irreverence he witnessed of altar servers near the presence of Our Lord in the Tabernacle. The French poet, Paul Claudel, on the other hand, was won back to the Church when he observed the reverence of those at the altar in Notre Dame Cathedral.

May you at all times conduct yourself attentively, and devoutly, and by your actions and example at the altar bring glory to God and many souls to the one true Church.

For More Information or to Become an Altar Server

Parents with children (Grade 4 and up) that have an interest in becoming an altar server are asked to contact: sfa.altarserver@gmail.com