Altar Server Program
"The Eucharist is the source and summit of the bond of friendship with Jesus. You are very close to Jesus in the Eucharist, and this this is the most important sign of his friendship for each one of us. Do not forget it."
~ Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Altar Servers, August 2, 2006
The unique role of the Altar Server (Acolyte) is an integral part of the normal celebration of Holy Mass. Other than Priests and Deacons, no one else is allowed to so closely participate in the preparation of the Eucharist. At St. Thomas Apostle, Servers are chosen from among the youth (ages 7-18) who display a willingness and desire to learn about this Ministry, while committing themselves to gain and comprehend a sense of its purpose. There are two main functions performed by Altar Servers.
The primary function of the Altar Server is to help the Priest during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, e.g., arrive early, monitor and prepare credence table, light and extinguish all necessary candles, carry processional Crucifix and processional candles, hold Sacramentary, set up Altar, deliver ciborium(s) and decanter to Altar, hold lavabo and towel, ring bells, retrieve cups, clear Altar, prepare thurible (censor) and serve as Thurifer or Boat Boy, carry aspergillum, and take proper care of server vestments, etc.
When executed properly, the Server's primary function blends perfectly with the secondary function of a server; which is, to help the congregation in their worship during Holy Mass. This is accomplished by the server's knowledge and understanding of the parts and order of the Mass, anticipating the proper timing and locations of the various postures, prayer response, singing, reverence, attentiveness, discipline, decorum, appearance, commitment, and dedication, etc.
At least three (3) Servers are needed for Sunday Masses, and as many as five (5) Servers are needed for special occasions. Servers might also be needed to help the priest during baptisms, weddings, and funerals. All Altar Servers at St. Thomas wear a small Crucifix over their cassock and surplice that indicates their year(s) of service and/or their leadership capacity. Applicants for this Ministry must either: a) be Confirmed; or, b) have received First Holy Communion and be enrolled in the Parish Religious Education Program or Holy Family Catholic School. All Servers are recruited and trained by the Director of Religious Education under the direct supervision of the Pastor.
During the Summer months, the Religious Education Program hosts Camp Junipero Serra which offers training opportunities for Servers in addition to activities and fellowship. The St. Thomas Apostle Altar Servers, under the guidance of their ministerial patron, St. John Berchmans, take great pride in their work and they welcome all newcomers to this Ministry. For more information, please contact the Religious Education Office at (208) 664-0793. Be not afraid!
"Therefore, in the liturgy, you are much more than simple, "helpers of the parish priest." Above all, you are servers of Jesus Christ, of the eternal High Priest. Thus, you, altar servers, are called in particular to be young friends of Jesus. Be determined to go deeper and to cultivate this friendship with him. You will discover that in Jesus you have found a true friend for life."
~ Excerpt from Pope John Paul II, General Audience, August 1, 2001