Altar servers are called to familiarize themselves with the liturgical tradition of the Church and to bring reverence and beauty to our celebration of the liturgy, gaining an appreciation for its significance to our faith life.
They serve at weekend Masses as well as feasts and solemnities. The ministry is open to boys and to girls (up to age 16) who are at least in 4th grade and have received their first Holy Communion, as well as to men 18 and older.
It is the Parents responsibility to bring their children to Mass on time on the days they are scheduled.
VIRTUS and fingerprinting are required for adults.
To be an altar server is a special honor and privilege in the Catholic Church. If you are a 4th through 12th grader who has made his or her first Holy Communion and are familiar with the basic order of the Mass, please consider participating in this ministry.
Altar servers assist the priest in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy during Mass. It’s not difficult and training will be provided. Earn service hours and grow in your faith!
To serve the altar is – next to the religious life – the highest privilege for a young boy or girl, teen, or adult. You represent the faithful, and take part in the rich treasures of the church’s liturgy. This sacred ceremony shall be carried out with love and devotion. It is not about entertaining people, but it is about worshipping God through your service.
Whether you are experienced or not, remember that you are in the service of the King of Kings. We are very happy to have you serve at our parish and we welcome you!
Guidelines for Altar Servers
Attire and Footwear
Attire: Clothing should be clean, neat and appropriate for Mass. No T-Shirts, sweatshirts,sweatpants, halter tops, jeans, jean shorts or other athletic wear. Clothing should be modest and non revealing.
Shoes: Dark color dress shoes or dressy casual shoes are required. No open toe shoes, sandals, sneakers or any kind of beach or water shoes. No Flip Flops. Servers are free to bring shoes to change for use in Mass.
Hair Style and Color
Hair Style: Hair must be neat and groomed. For safety reasons, servers with long hair should pull their hair back in a ponytail or some other fashion. Bright hair dyes are not allowed.
Makeup and Jewelry
Makeup: Makeup should be kept to an absolute minimum. If worn, makeup should be modest and light.
Jewelry: Jewelry should be kept to a minimum. Necklaces should not be visible. Bracelets are discouraged. Any earrings worn must be small and non distracting. Dangling earrings and large hoop earrings are strictly forbidden.
11 things you should know about the Sacristy
- Vesting Table: On this table with drawers, the priest keeps his vestments and lays out his vestments before mass.
- The Crucifix: This is located above the vesting table. The priest and servers bow to the Crucifix before and after Mass.
- The Sacrarium: This is a small sink that is used to receive water used to wash sacred vessels or linens that come into contact with vessels. The water goes directly into the ground.
- Wardrobe: Location of the albs and vestments.
- Cabinet: For the location of sacred vessels.
- Thurible: Vessel of brass or silver hung on chains with a top. The thurible or censer is used to burn charcoal on which incense is placed.
- Incense Boat: Metal container that holds the incense. Has a small spoon to place incense in thurible.
- Incense: A mixture of sweet smelling resins mixed with other materials that give fragrance. It signifies Christian prayer coming from a heart filled with fire of God’s love, giving forth the odor of Christ and rising up like smoke, pleasing in the sight of God.
- Candle Lighter: Used to light torches and altar candles.
- Holy Water Bucket and Sprinkler: The pot is a container of holy water made of metal which is used at the Asperges. The sprinkler (aspersorium) used to be a branch of a tree or palm. Today it is a metal sponge with a handle.
- Processional Cross: This is the crucifix mounted on a long staff used for Mass and processions.
7 sacred vessels and altar cloths used for Mass
- Chalice: A cup of gold or silver used to hold wine for consecration at Mass.
- Purificator: A white piece of linen with a cross in the middle used to wash the chalice. It is folded in three parts.
- Paten: A small round gold plate used to hold the host for consecration.
- Pall: A small, square piece of linen used to cover the chalice
- Corporal: A larger piece of linen with a cross in the center. It is folded three ways in both directions. The chalice and paten rest on the corporal at Mass.
- Ciborium: A round bowl or cup that contains either the unconsecrated hosts or the Blessed Sacrament.
- Monstrance: This is used for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. It is decorated and sits on the altar during Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
4 vestments of the priest
- Alb: A long white linen robe. Signifies the purity of life required of a priest.
- Cincture: A rope or cord, usually white, but sometimes the color of the vestments. It is a symbol of purity.
- Stole: A long slip of material worn around the neck. Signifies the dignity of the priesthood and the cross born by Jesus.
- Chasuble: Covers all vestments. Recalls the seamless garment made by Mary for Jesus.
6 vestment colors
- White: Used on feasts of Christ, the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin, the Angels, Saints, Confessors and Virgins. Also used from Christmas to Epiphany and during Eastertime, except on feasts of Martyrs.
- Red: Used for Pentecost, feasts of the suffering and cross of Christ, feasts of the Apostles (except St. John) and of the Martyrs.
- Green: Used during Ordinary Time.
- Violet: Used from the First Sunday of Advent to Christmas and from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday.
- Black: Used on Good Friday, All Souls Day and in all Masses of the Dead.
- Rose: Used on Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent) and Laetare Sunday (4th Sunday of Lent).
5 parts of the Sanctuary
Most of the time, the Sacristan will already have prepared the Sanctuary beforehand. However you should know what to expect to find so that you can double check that everything is ready:
- The Tabernacle: This is the beautiful gold piece at the center of the sanctuary behind the altar. This is where the Blessed Sacrament is placed at all times. This is where Jesus Christ, in the sacred host, is reserved. This is why we pay special attention to its location, how we respect and dignify His presence in the church.
- The Altar: The altar will have an altar cloth, candles and a crucifix. The altar symbolizes Christ, and it is the banquet table upon which He offers himself through the hands of the priest to God.
- The Ambo: This is the lectern where the readers and the priest will read from the Lectionary during Mass. A green binder will be on the ambo for the readers. Ambo is a Greek word that means mountain or high place. Its origin dates back to biblical times when the rabbis read Scriptures to the people from an elevated platform.
- The Chair: The priest will sit in the center chair. To the left there is a small table. This table should have a green binder similar to the one on the ambo, and the Roman Missal (large red book). The chair or throne recalls the authority of the priest or bishop over his community.
- The Processional Crucifix and Torches: The Crucifix will be in its stand. The torches will be behind the Chair, and will need to be lit as soon as you begin the Procession. You will take the Crucifix when you begin the Procession.
7 things to find on the Credence Table
This is where the altar server does most of his work. The credence table will have for Mass the following:
- Water cruet (for the preparation of the chalice)
- Finger basin (for Lavabo)
- Finger towel (for Lavabo)
- Communion patens
- Ablution cup and towel for Communion Ministers
- The bells
3 types of hand positions
- Basic position: Hold your hands together, palms together and fingers extended and flat. Right thumb over your left thumb. Keep you hands close to your chest/heart. You should have your hands in this position at all times unless you are sitting, or if you are holding, receiving or giving an object to the priest or anyone else.
- Sitting position: When sitting, your hands should sit flat on your knees at all times.
- Heart position: When using only one hand to pass something or receive something, keep the unused hand flat against your chest/heart. Return to the Basic position when both hands are free.
4 types of bows
- Head bow: Standing straight, looking forward, drop your chin to your chest and raise it back up. When used: Whenever the name of “Jesus” or “Mary” is said. Whenever you give or receive an object to another server or the priest.
- Low bow: Standing straight, looking forward, drop your head and body until you are facing the floor. Remain standing. Return up to standing position. When used: During the Creed at the words, “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man”.
- Genuflect: Standing straight, looking forward, kneel on the right knee and rise again to standing position. When you approach the altar unless you are carrying the Processional Cross or the torches.
- Deep bow: Kneeling with both knees on the floor, facing forward, kneel your body. When used: During the consecration of the host.