BUKIT PADANG – Some 27 altar servers of the Church of Mary Immaculate here were commissioned over the weekend of 17-18 Mar 2018.
Fifteen were commissioned by Archbishop John Wong during the Chinese Sunset Mass Mar 17 while another 12 were commissioned also by the prelate at the 9 am English Mass Mar 18.
It was a historic first in the history of this church that will mark 25 years of existence in October this year.
Altar servers are a post-Trent innovation in parish churches. Formerly, ordained acolytes performed these functions. When priestly training developed in seminaries, professed acolytes were no longer available in parishes. In the parishes, only men and boys served at the altar.
In 1994, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments clarified that service at the altar is to be considered one of the liturgical functions (such as those of lector and cantor) that, according to canon 230 §2 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, lay people, male or female, may perform. At the same time the Congregation pointed out that this canon of the Code of Canon Law is only permissive and does not oblige to admit female altar servers.
The term “acolyte” is sometimes applied to altar servers, but in the proper sense means someone who has been received the ministry of that name, usually reserved for those who are to be promoted to the permanent or transitory diaconate. These must receive the ministry of acolyte, which formerly was classified as a minor order, at least six months before being ordained as deacons.
The altar server ministry is very important and is open to any boy (or girl) at least 9 years old who has made his first communion. Like all calls to ministry, it is God who makes the invitation. The server is the priest and deacon’s right hand helper. Servers are to perform their duties in a sincere and reverent manner. This is rightly expected of them by God and his people.
Although the procedures vary from church to church, the main duty of altar servers is to assist the priest during the Mass. This includes:
- Processing with the cross and candles down the aisle to signify the beginning and end of the Mass.
- Processing with candles to light the Gospel.
- Delivering the Book of Gospels to the priest.
- Helping the priest/deacon prepare the altar for the Eucharist
Altar servers typically wear an alb . This garment is worn over the clothes and tied with a cincture at the waist. The cincture is the name for a braided cord that is tied around the waist. When tied properly, it is adjustable. The loose ends should always hang on the left side.
Altar servers have to get to church 5-20 minutes early, depending on the church.