Five Reasons Your Child Should Be an Altar Server is a post by contributing writer Kathryn Whitaker of Team Whitaker.
As a convert, I’ve always been drawn to the Mass—its rituals, its words and its mystery. When my oldest turned ten, the parish sent us an invitation and encouraged us to attend altar server training. To be honest, I hadn’t really given it much thought until then. But, the idea of him participating in something as intimate as the Mass preparation intrigued me. We signed him up, and his response?
“Give it a year. After that, you never have to serve again.”
That was three years ago and he’s still happily participating in the altar server ministry much to my surprise and joy. Here’s why I think every kid, including yours, should be an altar server.
Five Reasons Your Child Should Be an Altar Server
It’s one less kid in the pew.
Hey, I’m nothing if not practical. We have five children, so when our oldest serves it cuts down on the crazy factor. I’m certain the people in the pew behind us are appreciative. The bonus is it requires us to plan ahead so we arrive to Mass 20 minutes early. I find that we’re actually more prepared on the days he serves. Crazy, I know.
You’re fostering a future vocation.
According to a recent study, 75% of the 2012 class of Ordinands (seminarians) were altar servers. It’s no coincidence that when your children fall in love with the Mass, they fall deeper in love with God.
Whether your children choose a religious vocation or one of married life, the effect of experiencing the Mass in a personal way can only help to further their faith life in the very best of ways. You can read the full report from the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the USCCB, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). It’s fascinating stuff.
Community with peers.
It’s become something of the “cool” factor among my son and his friends. They enjoy serving together. My son often drops by the altar server room before Mass just to see if they need an extra set of hands.
He’s gotten to be friends with other boys and girls outside his peer group, our parish’s seminarian serving his pastoral year, and our priests and deacons. We are called to live in community and I can’t think of a more positive bunch than that one.
Respect and understanding of the Mass.
In the early days, we struggled just to keep our son quiet in the pew. As he grew into a school-aged child, he was present but still very unaware and uninterested in the Mass. We tried it all—MagnifiKid subscription, books about Mass, pointing out key moments during the liturgy—all with mild success. It wasn’t until he began serving that we saw almost an immediate shift in his approach to the Mass.
Just a few weeks ago, after the priest’s homily, my son turned to me and said, “Is it me or are Fr. Ron’s homilies getting better and better every week?” One, I was impressed that he was actually listening and two, even more impressed that he cared enough to share that sentiment. I have no doubt his observation was a direct result of his time spent at the altar.
An opportunity for leadership.
When our son first began serving, he started by shadowing other altar servers. You could see his anxious nerves! Our priest was so kind and patient as he learned the ropes. Now, I see my son mentoring younger servers. I see him taking pride in making sure the Mass goes smoothly. I see him smiling on the altar as the priest gives him a word of encouragement. I see a fine young man learning to be a leader by example.
Lest you think we’re all piety and service over here, I’d like to share this parting story about our altar server experience. Just a few weeks into serving, my son came up to me and said, “Mom, I really love serving. It’s awesome.” That’s about the time I started to feel super proud of my parenting skills. After all, it was at the suggestion of his dad and I that he participate in the ministry. When I asked him why he loved it so much, I prepared myself to hear how wonderful the Mass now was for him. How humbling it was to hear this:
“It’s so much quieter up on the altar. There’s no one to fight with up there.”
Come to think of it, that just might be reason #6.
5 Reasons Your Child Should be an Altar Server Printable Handout
While this post was originally written in May 2013 by Kathryn Whitaker, this printable was added in August 2018 by Angie of Real Life at Home.
We’ve had a lot of parishes inquire about reprinting this article to put in their newsletter or to give to parents in their school or religious education program. While we don’t normally allow posts to be reprinted, I decided to put together a printable handout from most of the information in this post for this purpose.
This printable is free for personal, classroom, and group use. It may be printed in a parish newsletter. (The URL for the post MUST remain with the information.) This printable may not be used for any commercial purposes. If you aren’t sure if your use of them is allowed, just contact me to find out.
You may not host this printable on your website or any website or file sharing service. This includes that you MAY NOT host this on a church website for others to download from your site. (Sorry for the all caps there, but for some reason, there are a lot of churches that think it’s okay to take other people’s printables and put them on their site, unfortunately.) You may not distribute this printable via email or other electronic means. You may not use this printable and claim it to be your own.
Download the 5 Reasons Your Child Should be an Altar Server Handout
In this download, there are three versions of this same printable. One with a blue strip on the top, one with a gray strip on top, and one without that strip. That way, you can decide which is best for your printing needs.
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Kathryn is the mom of five, ages 12 to 3, and pleasantly surprised her oldest is still an altar server. When she’s not corralling kids, refereeing fights, organizing life, planning parties, designing client work or making dinner, she can be found at her personal blog, Team Whitaker. You can also connect with her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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