At my church, The Church of the Good Shepherd in Holbrook, and Catholic churches around the world, kids can be a part of the Mass by becoming an altar server.
An altar server’s job is to assist the priest during Mass. Right now there are 43 altar servers at Good Shepherd. Typically there are three altar servers at a weekend Mass and there may be more for special occasions, such as Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
To become an altar server at Good Shepherd you must be at least in fourth grade and go through a month of training. We learn the responsibilities of helping the priest, the names of all the items used for the Mass, and the three positions, two candle-bearers and cross-bearer. We are a team, and when I joined, I made a lot of new friends.
Altar servers wear a robe called an alb, a cross around the neck, and a rope called a cincture around the waist. Anyone who has served for more than five years receives a special silver cross. We carry the cross and candles into and out of the church at the beginning and end of Mass. We hold the liturgical book when the priest is not at the podium. We also help with the preparation of the gifts by setting the altar with the chalice, purificator, pitchers of water and wine for the priest, and put the collection basket away. During the consecration of the Eucharist, an altar server rings the bells.
Serving my first Mass, I felt nervous and excited, but the other experienced servers with me were helpful and I felt better. I hope to be just at helpful when new kids start serving. Being an altar server is challenging, but I am honored to serve God and my parish.
Kerry Abernethy’s fourth-grade class, Waverly Avenue Elementary School, Holtsville