Invitation from Pastor
Dear Altar Servers,
Allow me to commend you for your interest in joining the Ministry of Altar Servers at Good Shepherd Catholic Community (GSCC). You are committing to one of the most important ministries in our parish. Everyone who comes to Mass to celebrate the Eucharist will benefit from your ministry as altar server.
You light candles, hold the books, handle the vessels, and assist the priest so that he can focus on leading the people in worship through word, prayer, and the Sacrifice of the Mass. Your humble service helps all the other ministers to simplify their motions and to eliminate distractions during Mass.
Your actions and movements at Mass may seem routine, but when you do them well and without fanfare, people attending Mass appreciate you because they are able to concentrate on Jesus. People only notice the ministers at Mass when interruptions occur. A well-trained altar server is like a waiter at a fine restaurant who does not keep interrupting the people he is serving at table so that his guests can enjoy their meal.
Please familiarize yourself with this handbook and all Altar Server Training and Practice requirements, so that you are the best prepared altar server that you can be. I stand with you in prayer as together we do our best to serve God well at Mass.
Thank you for volunteering and I look forward to serving with you.
In Christ Jesus our Savior,
Rev. Michael Higgins, T.O.R.
An altar server must be willing, interested and committed to participate in this Ministry on his or her own accord and not by parental or peer pressure. A reluctant or disinterested server is a distraction to the celebrant, other servers, and the entire community. Similarly, parents must undertake an active role in supporting the server in this Ministry by ensuring that their altar server arrives to their assigned Mass on time.
"When you take part in the Liturgy by carrying out your altar service, you offer a witness to all. Your absorption, the devotion that wells up from your heart and is expressed in gestures, in song, in the responses: if you do it correctly and not absent-mindedly, then in a certain way your witness is one that moves people." -Pope Benedict XVI addressing altar servers on August 2, 2006
“You do not encounter Jesus placed on an inaccessibly high throne, but in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. His word does not shake the doorposts, but rather caresses the strings of the heart . . . If we do not resist him, Jesus will touch our lips with the flame of his merciful love, as he did to the prophet Isaiah. This will make us worthy to receive him and to bring him to our brothers and sisters.” - Pope Francis addressing Altar Servers on August 4, 2015
Just like Martha in Luke 10:38-42, where she prepared the food and served it to Our Lord, an altar server performs all assigned duties with attention, dignity and reverence because they are serving in the presence of Our Lord. The Sanctuary is holy, and access to it is restricted to a very few people. Do not abuse the privilege you have been given to enter the sanctuary by being disrespectful or irreverent. Remember we are in God’s house.
Just like Mary in Luke 10:38-42, where she listened and observed Our Lord at His feet, an altar server knows the entire Order of the Mass, all the responses, and all the principal prayers of the Mass. Each server must take the time to memorize these prayers if they do not already know them. Each server must identify, know the purpose of, and properly use each liturgical item used at Mass.
Just as Martha and Mary were a team serving Our Lord, the altar servers, at each Mass, are a team serving Our Lord and His community. By ministering at the Lord’s altar, each altar server will also be actively discerning the possibility of serving the church in the future as a priest, deacon, or religious sister or brother.
Please read and discuss the GSCC Altar Server Parent Handbook prior to signing up your child for this important ministry. You will find important information in this handbook including requirements, qualifications, etc., that will help you and your child discern this ministry. Additional resources will be provided during training and practice sessions and thereafter downloadable from the Planning Center.
Core Server Values
Serving at the altar in the sanctuary for the Lord is a privilege. Next to the Celebrant and the Deacon, the altar servers are involved in the holiest and most sacred event and play a part in the preparation of the Eucharist. Therefore, altar servers must demonstrate passion at all times through devotion, dedication and discipline. Parents must be willing and able to support their child in this journey towards spiritual excellence in service.
DEVOTION: A COMMITMENT TO WHAT WE BELIEVE.
- A love of God and the catholic faith.
- A strong desire to do God's work and serve His people with passion.
- A willingness to conduct yourself in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord.
DEDICATION: A COMMITMENT TO HOW WE ACT.
- The commitment to fully meet the requirements of the service you have chosen.
- The commitment to fulfill your duties when scheduled in any role with passion.
- The commitment to help the entire altar server team to do well.
- Dedication to service comes from our love and Devotion to the Lord.
- Dedicated Altar Servers know that others are counting on them. Help other servers when needed, and never say "That's not my job."
- Altar Servers wearing vestments are close to the preparation of the Eucharist.
- Devoted Altar Servers know that their service is important to the whole faith community. Through their service at the Altar, others are able to grow in their love of the Lord.
- Even if the server is not serving, the actions should be an example to the rest of the congregation and others who might be considering the Altar Server Ministry.
DISCIPLINE: A COMMITMENT TO HOW WE SERVE.
- The self-control that allows Altar Servers to carry out their duties with precision.
- The determination to do what needs to be done, the right way every time with passion.
- The desire to be prepared, to arrive early to help prepare for Mass, and to ensure that the rest of the Altar Server Team is prepared.
- The initiative to pay attention and think about what the celebrant, the deacon and other altar servers will do next.
- The desire to improve each time. Asking at the end of each Mass, "What could I have done better?"
- The motivation to listen to coaching with an open mind and a willing heart.
SPIRITUAL EXCELLENCE: the culmination of DEVOTION, DEDICATION, DISCIPLINE for doing things well, with passion, decent, in order, pleasing to God. Reference: https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/frequently-asked-questions/guidelines-for-altar-servers
Altar Server & Parent Covenant
Please read and discuss the GSCC Altar Server Parent Handbook prior to signing up your child for this important ministry. You will find important information, including requirements, qualifications, etc., in this handbook that will help you and your child discern this ministry.
If you agree to, and is able to, fulfill all the requirements in this handbook, you and your child will be required to sign this covenant.
- I freely on my own accord, choose to participate actively in this ministry.
- I promise to demonstrate commitment at all times through devotion, dedication and discipline towards achieving excellence in serving the Lord through out my ministry.
- I promise to: a) grow in my understanding of the Mass and my catholic Faith, b) receive communion and reconciliation regularly, c) participate in Faith Formation, either through the Parish, or attendance at a catholic school, or structured home study.
- I promise to come to Mass prepared, having prayed beforehand and having gotten necessary rest.
- I will review my assigned role and responsibilities regularly, correcting any mistakes or sloppiness per the feedback from the Head Server, the Altar Server Ministry Lead, and trainers.
- I will be prompt, arriving at least 20 minutes before Mass for all roles, and 30 minutes before Mass if I am in the Head Server role.
- If I will be absent, I will find a substitute, and communicate with the Altar Server Ministry Lead early.
- I promise to assist my child in this ministry.
- I promise to help and support my child demonstrate commitment at all times through devotion, dedication and discipline towards achieving excellence in serving the Lord.
- I will speak with my child about the graces received in carrying out this ministry.
- I will review my child’s responsibilities for this ministry, helping them to become familiar with the protocols.
- I will ensure that my child has properly prepared for Mass, by being properly prepared and recollected myself.
- I will ensure that my child arrives at least 20 minutes before Mass or 30 minutes before Mass for a Head Server.
- I will assist my child in finding a substitute, when necessary.
- I will volunteer to wash altar server robes every six (6) weeks (1-2 hours).
Knowledge (What & Why) & Practicum (When & How)
All servers are expected to attend one of the training and practice sessions annually, and also to complete a self-study of the Altar Server Training Practice Manual. Each server must complete the assessment for the current level and pass in order to be scheduled to serve for the current year. Each server can also attend the next level training and practice session and complete an assessment for that level and must pass in order to be considered to the higher level. All servers continue to participate in ongoing training through, the server advancement process, training resources, regular practices.
Altar servers will be trained to handle all of the activities assigned. Servers will be required to memorize the prayer responses of the Mass, know the names of the vestments and vessels of the altar, and to learn the Order of the Mass. Practice will be held at regular intervals. Practices give every server the occasion to improve their current skills as well as the opportunity to learn new ones.
Some practices will be mandatory for all servers. Practices are mandatory when there is significant new information, or when there are liturgical changes. When a server misses a mandatory practice, they will be required to make up the practice before being scheduled again. Every effort will be made to give the server a choice of multiple sessions for mandatory practices. Some practices will be optional, which means that a server should make a personal decision if they need to attend or not. However, all servers will be required to attend a training and practice each year.
Refer to the GSCC Altar Server Parent Handbook current version Annual Calendar section for all annual altar server activities.
Our next full curriculum day for current and new altar servers:
September 9, 2023 – Registration 9:15. Knowledge & Practicum 9:30am to 2:00pm.