You may have noticed that there are some older altar servers who wear a gold colored cincture (rope or belt). These servers have the title of liturgical coordinators. Their preparation for this role includes up to ten hours of theology training.
A major focus in this training is the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ and how this mystery is celebrated in our liturgies. What do we mean by the Paschal Mystery? The Paschal Mystery is Christ’s saving life, death and resurrection. In our sacraments and liturgy Christ continues to be present with us today through the Spirit. Our witness to the faith is the life that we live — in our love for one another, as our Lord taught us through word and action. The liturgical coordinators are very much aware of this and serve our parish with an understanding of this basic truth.
We celebrate the mysteries over a period of a year. These servers are taught how the liturgical year is arranged and what the church documents dictate, i.e. which feasts are major and which are minor. They learn how to find the readings in the Lectionary (book containing the readings) and to mark the Sacramentary (book containing the prayers). They study every one of the eucharistic prayers and compare their similarities and differences. This gives these coordinators a sense of ownership as they pray along with the presider in their silent understanding.
Another major focus of this theology training is that “we pray as we believe and we believe as we pray.” To emphasize this fact, several prayers from the celebration of the sacraments are examined. The Gloria and creeds are also studied and their contents are examined. They learn that the Gloria, the creeds and the sacramental prayers all express what we believe.
Prior to the start of the liturgy, the coordinators make sure that each assigned altar server has a unique responsibility. Once everything is in its proper place, they direct the altar servers to line up for the procession. While the servers are in line, the liturgical coordinators check that each server understands his or her responsibilities. During the liturgy they direct and assist the servers.
Padre Serra Parish is very grateful that we have 16 dedicated liturgical coordinators who know how to mentor and care for all the altar servers.
Altar Server Ministry Director
Also visit: Altar Servers
If there is a defining characteristic of an altar server, it is youthful service during our liturgies.
There are focal points during our liturgies. The first point is the altar, where the Liturgy of the Eucharist takes place. Another point is the ambo from which the word of God is proclaimed: Old Testament, Responsorial Psalm, New Testament, and the Gospel. A third focal point is the presider’s chair. It is from the chair that the presider leads the assembly in the opening and closing prayers, penitential rites, Gloria, Creed and the Intercessions. Because our liturgies are dynamic, we need individuals who can assist and meet the needs of the presider, deacon, cantors, psalmists, lectors and Eucharistic ministers, at and around the focal points. These individuals are altar servers.
During the entrance procession, a server carries the processional cross with two other servers carrying torches. The remaining servers in procession give body to the procession, making the statement that we are in a very important time and place. Processions give us a sense of transition and mission and our altar servers are involved in all of them: entrance, gospel, offertory, communion and exit processions.
When the altar servers post their torches at the ambo, it designates that point as important. Later, during the gospel procession, two altar servers retrieve the torches from the ambo and accompany the Book of the Gospels during the gospel procession and return back to the ambo for its proclamation.
When it is time to celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist, many servers are involved simultaneously: posting lighted torches at the altar, escorting the gifts to the altar, assisting with the reception of the gifts, bringing sacred vessels to the altar and placing them in their proper places and washing the presider’s hands. The servers perform all these tasks with reverence and never cause undo attention to themselves.
We are called to restore to creation all its original value, where creation is governed by the life of grace drawn into the Risen Christ. The Paschal Mystery (Christ’s saving Death and Resurrection) is the central focus of every liturgy. Our servers help us keep our focus.
The altar server is an icon of service and dedication. Each altar server functions as a model of what it means to have full, conscious and active participation in our liturgies, in essence to stay focused on the Paschal Mystery and how it is celebrated throughout the liturgy. It is my hope that our altar servers will spend a lifetime serving the Church in many other ways and remember this ministry as a time when God gave joy to their youth. This Sunday we will install 12 new altars servers. They will join the already installed brown alb servers, bringing our number to 120 active altar servers.
Director, Altar Server Ministry
Also visit: Altar Servers