Altar Servers Embrace Opportunity to Grow in Faith and Stewardship
In every parish, there are many different ways that people can serve. Some serve visibly, and some are behind the scenes. There are big tasks and little tasks. And what better time to instill the importance of service than at a young age?
Here at St. Francis Solanus, any child in fifth grade or older who has been confirmed and received the Sacrament of First Eucharist may become an altar server. Those who want to become servers are trained by Deacon Wayne Zimmerman. The training includes a tour of both the sacristy and the sanctuary so that the servers are familiar and comfortable with the responsibilities and setting in which they will be serving.
Parishioner Allie Vranjes is an eighth-grader at St. Francis School and has been serving our parish as an altar server since fifth grade. For Allie, serving at Mass has been an opportunity to grow in her faith and appreciation of the Mass, while also playing an active role in the liturgy.
“I like the ability to be present in the Mass and knowing that I am doing my part to help,” she says. “When you are right there, seeing the bread and wine turning in the Body and Blood of Jesus, it really helps you know and appreciate His sacrifice for us.”
Although she has regularly attended Mass for her whole life, Allie found that becoming a server gave her a better understanding of everything that happens at Mass, and enjoys having a part to play in the liturgy.
“Something that surprised me was how much the servers have to do with the Mass,” she says. “I never realized how much the servers did behind the scenes — I never really noticed all their actions until I became one.”
She assures those who may be considering being an altar server that there is nothing to be afraid of and that there will always be others there to help and guide you.
“There is absolutely no reason to be nervous,” Allie says. “Your first few Masses, there will always be older kids to help you understand what to do and when to do it, and like the old saying, ‘Practice makes perfect.’ The more you serve, the easier it will become — like second nature.”
Having experienced service in the Church from a young age, Allie wants to continue her involvement in the future.
“I hope to always be present in the Church through participating in the Mass,” she says. “Becoming a reader or sacristan both seem like good options for when I’m older.”
For children who want to become involved as servers, the parents’ role of service is also significant. Whether it’s making sure that they arrive early to Mass when they’re serving, or simply encouraging them for this important ministry role, supporting their child as an altar server is a beautiful service in its own way. Director of Religious Education Mike Holbrook hopes that regardless of the sacrifice it may entail, parents will encourage their children to grow in their faith by becoming an altar server.
“I know families are busy and being pulled in many directions, which is why some parents are hesitant to allow their child to serve at Mass,” Mike says. “But I would say to the parents that being an altar server is a privilege and a spiritual experience their child won’t likely forget. Please don’t deny them this chance to grow in their faith and to experience serving at the altar of sacrifice.”
Allie also encourages her peers to consider becoming involved as altar servers in our parish community.
“Serving is an experience that will last you a lifetime,” Allie says. “It will help you grow in your faith while you learn all about it, by watching the center of our faith take place before your eyes.”
If you would like more information about this ministry, or to sign up for altar server training, please contact Mike Holbrook at 217-222-2898 or [email protected]. Although delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize our Class of 2020 graduating seniors who have been involved in our parish community as altar servers — Danica Clarke, Sam Hea, Julia Liesen, Jonathan Ohnemus and Bo Paxton. Thank you for your years of service in our community!