“Help me to serve reverently at your holy altar, and so give you praise and glory.”
Altar servers assist the priests and deacons of the parish during the celebration of Mass. Boys and girls who have completed third grade, have received their First Holy Communion, and are members of a family registered in our parish are eligible for training as an Altar Server. Formation and training is provided.
Parents must provide permission for the student to apply for formation and training as an Altar Server and must review and acknowledge the Altar Server Responsibilities As Parent(s) or Guardian Guidelines as presented by the Church.
Altar Server Formation and Training
The Ministry of Altar Server:
As an Altar Server you are a visible member of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish ministry team. Everything you say and do is seen by those attending Mass. You have a responsibility to serve as an example to others of your commitment to your faith. It is a responsibility you are called to take very seriously. It is your duty to serve prayerfully with reference, respect and attentiveness to your assigned tasks.
Altar Server(s) Qualifications:
Boys and girls who have completed third grade, received their First Holy Communion, members of a family registered in our parish are eligible for formation and training as an altar server. Altar servers assist the priests and deacons of the parish during the celebration of the Masses. Altar servers must have the permission of one of the parents or legal guardian to be accepted. (See attachment A) Permission to Have My Child Participate in the Formation and Training of Altar Servers.
Names of People, Places and Objects Associated with the Ministry of Altar Server: Parts of the Church:
- Nave - Main body of the church where the assembly is seated
- Sanctuary – The part of the church building around the altar.
- Sacristy - The area near the sanctuary where the priest and deacons get ready for Mass. The books, vestments, and sacred vessels are stored there.
- Narthex - The entrance area of the church building. (Sign in for Altar Servers)
People of the Church:
- Deacon – An ordained minister whose special role in the liturgy is to read the Gospel and preach the homily. He also invites many of the assembly’s responses, for example the sign of peace. Deacons Baptize, preside at funerals, witness at weddings and provide pastoral counseling to the faithful
- Presider – The person who leads (presides at) the people in prayer. Most often the Priest.
- Sacristan (Mass Coordinator) – The person who sets up for Mass and other liturgical celebrations.
- Alb – Long white garment (a reminder of the white garment worn at our Baptism) The altar server, priests and deacons wear the white alb.
- Amice – A rectangular piece of white fabric worn around the neck and over the shoulder by the priest to cover his street clothes when he wears his vestments.
- Cassock – A long black or red robe that buttons down the front.
- Chasuble – A sleeveless outer vestment worn by the priest at Mass. In is in the color of the season or the feast, such as violet for Lent or white for Easter.
- Cincture – A long woven cord, usually our of a soft cotton which fastens around the waist of the alb.
- Cope – A long cape worn for processions, benediction, and other events other than Mass.
- Humeral Veil – A long cloth draped over the shoulders of the celebrant when carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession, either in a monstrance or on Holy Thursday in a ciborium.
- Stole – A long strip of fabric that is placed around the neck of a priest with the two ends hanging down the front. It is a symbol of ordination and matches the chasuble in color. The deacon wears a stole, but the deacon’s stole drapes across the left shoulder.
- Surplice – A loose fitting short white tunic worn over a cassock.
- Vestments – Special articles of clothing worn by ministers for church worship services.
- Ambo – The place from which the Word of God is proclaimed. The prayers of the faithful are also read from the ambo. It may also be referred to as the pulpit of lectern.
- Ambry – The location of the holy oils.
- Baptismal Font – The place where infants, children and adults are baptized
- Holy Water Fonts – Theses are small containers close to the doors of the church so people can bless themselves as they enter the church.
- Credence Table – The table that is used to hold items that will be used during the mass.
- Presider’s Chair – The chair that the priest uses at Mass and from which he leads the prayers.
- Sanctuary Lamp – A candle enclosed in glass which burns next to the tablernacle to let people know that the Blessed Sacrament is present.
- Tabernacle – The place with a door that holds the consecrated hosts left over from the Mass.
Objects associated with the Ministry of Altar Server
- Processional Cross - The large cross that is carried by the Altar Server as the Mass procession begins
- Processional Candles - The two candles that are use to process in with the processional cross.
- Corporal – A square cloth positioned near the center of the altar on which the vessels holding the consecrated bread and wine are placed.
- Cruets – Small pouring containers.
- Incense Boat – A container holding the incense that will be spooned onto the hot coals for burning.
- Pall – a covering used to cover the chalice. It is also a large white cloth used to cover a casket at funerals.
- Paschal Candle – The large candle lit at Easter to remind us that Christ is the light of the World. It is blessed at Easter on Holy Saturday and burns at all the Masses during Easter. It is also used at funerals and baptism.
- Purificator - A small piece of white cloth used by communion ministers to wipe the cups or chalices during communion
- Thurible (censer) – The metal container in which incense is burned.
- Thurifer – The person who carries the thurible.
Altar Server Preparation and Procession:
- Arrive at mass 20 minutes before the mass begins.
- Put on your alb in the sacristy
- Check with the priest and deacon to see if they have any special instructions for the mass
- Light processional candles (If 3 servers are available) 5 minutes before Mass and proceed quietly to the back of church with cross and candles
- Wait until you are instructed to line up for the procession. The procession begins when the people begin singing the opening song
- Procession consist of one server carrying the cross, if 2 additional servers 2 candle bearers followed by the lectors, Book of Gospels, and celebrant (priest)
- The cross bearer stops at the right front of the altar with one candle bearer. The second candle bearer moves to the left side of the priest.
- After the priest and deacon bow to the altar the cross bearer places the cross in the stand by the Chapel stairs, and sits on the left side of the priest.
- The candle bearers proceed to the area behind the altar, extinguish their candles, place them in the holder and take their seats. If there is no deacon at the Mass, one altar server sits on the right side of the priest and the other on the bench behind.
- Opening Prayer: When the priest says “Let us pray,” the altar server gets the Sacramentary from the small credence table behind the priest chair and brings it to the priest. The Sacramentary is held slightly to the left of the body as it is held. The priest prays the opening prayer. When the priest closes the book the altar server returns the Sacramentary to the credence table.
Presentation of the Gifts:
- As the collection begins the altar servers proceed to the altar to begin preparation for the celebration of the Eucharist.
- The altar servers remove the Sacramentary from behind the presider’s chair and place it on the left side of the altar.
- The Gospel stand is removed from the altar and placed on the credence table by the sacristy.
- The priest’s chalice and paten are placed in the center of the altar.
- The chalices are placed on the right side of the corporal and the purificators are placed to right of the chalices.
- A small cruet of water is placed near the chalices. (This is for the priest or deacon to add to the wine before it is consecrated.) The altar servers return and stand by the credence table.
- When the priest stands, 2 altar servers join the priest in front of the altar to receive the gifts. Once the gifts have been received the altar servers proceed to the altar and place the hosts on the left side of the altar and the wine on the right side of the altar. The server with the wine and water remain at the altar until the empty wine decanter and the water are returned to them. The altar server takes the decanter and water and returns them to the credence table.
- The altar servers will then pick up the water, the gold basin and towel to prepare for the washing of the priest’s hands. The altar servers proceed to the edge of the stairs and wait for the priest to extend his hands over the basin. The towel should be placed over your arm. Once the priest has finished washing his hands the altar servers will bow to the priest.
- The altar servers will kneel on the steps for the “Holy, Holy through the “Our Father.”
- At the sign of peace the altar servers will shake hands with each other and the Priest.
- Immediately following the sign of peace the altar servers will bring the gold bowls (two at a time, not stacked) to the altar and place them on the left side of the corporal. The altar server will wait for the priest or deacon to hand you the large gold bowl. The altar server will return the bowl to the credence table.
- Altar servers will stay on the bread side of the altar to receive the Eucharist
- Once the priest consumes the Body and Blood of Christ, all the ministers walk up two steps to receive. The altar servers will stand next to the bread ministers to receive.
- Once you have received the Body and Blood of Christ the altar server will stand by the credence table until all the ministers have left the altar.
- The altar servers will return to the altar and put everything that is remaining on the altar away. The corporal will be returned to the sacristy counter. (Do not stay in sacristy.)
- The altar server will return the Sacramentary to the credence table behind the presider’s chair.
- The altar server will stand next to the priest and remain standing until the priest sits or request the Sacramentary.
- When the priest request the Sacramentary the altar server will get the Sacramentary from the credence table and bring it to the priest. Alter the priest is finished with the prayer after communion the altar server will return the Sacramentary to the credence table.
- The altar servers will then go behind the altar and get the cross and candles. (You will have to relight the candles)
- After the dismissal the cross bearer and candle bearers return to the front of the altar.
- The altar servers will process from the altar to the back of the church.
- The altar servers will extinguish candles and return them to the stand behind the altar. The cross bearer returns the cross to the cross holder.
- The altar servers return to the Sacristy to hang their alb up (in order of alb size)