Last Male Altar Server In U.S. Quits; No Longer Wants To Do Girls Job

February 9, 2015 by  
Filed under Parish Life

The last male altar server in the United States has officially called it quits, the boy’s family is reporting this morning.

The 3-year altar server veteran, who remained at his post as cross bearer despite pressure from the community to wear heels or quit altogether, served his final Mass on Sunday morning.

Devin McAlister, who claims he was made fun of by friends at school for doing a “girls job” told EOTT that many in the community began to question his sexuality as the years went on.

“People used to say stuff,” McAlister said. “I could hear them saying things as I walked down the aisle. Every Mass, for instance, I would hear this guy poking fun at me, saying that the only reason I served was because I got to wear a dress. Or him saying things like ‘shouldn’t you be carrying a barbie doll?’ But it wasn’t always Father Brian who be picking on me…sometimes it was other people too.”

McAlister went on to say that he was, nevertheless, thankful for the time he spent serving the Mass, thanking his fellow servers for showing him how to be a better server and for teaching him what type of heals and sparkly makeup best complimented different cincture colors.

At press time, McAlister has joined the choir.

  • michelekc

    I had a really good chuckle. Thanks!

  • Tir Na NOg

    Funny. I served in the Archdiocese of Boston for ten years. Every boy needs to think of himself as tough and when my non-Catholic buddies would show up for a funeral or mass for whatever reason and see me serving mass, I didn’t feel embarrassed because serving was a male role. There was no inconsistency in my wearing the cassock & surplice while sporting a purple & black eye. I would never ask my sons to serve in a parish where it isn’t a male role. This is likely why many altar boy rosters in parishes that do allow both genders only have girls actually serving.

    • Jim

      Absolutely, back in the day there was never anything even remotely un-masculine about being an altar boy. NOT being an altar boy was the exception in the parish of my youth. Hey, wait a minute. You had non-Catholic friends!?!?! Wow. Must have been the 70s. Slainte!

  • Shaun McAfee

    “But it wasn’t always Father Brian who be picking on me” —- Almost spit up my drink reading this.

    • T. Audrey Glamour

      I don’t like to gossip but Father Brian has always irritated me, too.

    • That’s the most scandalous line of the story.

  • cdet97

    Humor aside, anyone who doesn’t think that that pic is awesome is a liar.

    • T. Audrey Glamour

      And it looks like the picture is mostly boys, but it’s hard to be certain with all the soon-to-be-banned toxic smoke obscuring things.

      • Jim

        Secondhand incense?

    • fredx2

      The kid is trying to lay down as much smoke as he can so you can’t see that his makeup is smeared.

      • TruthHolder

        You’re an asshole. I was an altar server for 5 years and served some of the best masses around. I can say I had the opportunity to serve with Cardinal Dolan, (Archdiocese of New York). Your comment is inconsiderate and hurtful. Why make fun of someone at any hand?

        • Patricia Budenholzer

          what part of satire don’t you understand?

        • sixlittlerabbits

          This is a satire. The altar boy mentioned doesn’t exist. The point is that allowing girls to serve has discouraged boys–that’s why the references to wearing “heels” and using “sparkly glitter” are here; fredx2 is taking the satire one step further by mentioning “makeup.”

          Just think of the scientist who made a major discovery and–after being attacked publicly and viciously–for wearing a “sexist” shirt (custom made by a friend as a gift) that had women in lingerie pictured on it–made a tearful public apology to the harpies.

        • Sonny Moon

          Nice language from a former altar boy. What would Fr. Brian say about that?

    • Is it Creative Commons so I can steal it for my blog?

  • Paulette Mcmahan

    The only reason girls serve is the lack of boys wanting the role…or as in my parish there is only one boy to do the job at all. If we want altar servers, we have to have girls

    • Religious Right

      The boys don’t serve because the girls do….you have it reversed.

      An 18 year old head altar boy.

      • Paulette Mcmahan

        This is not the case here…we don’t have any boys to serve. This is why the girls are serving.

        • disqus_VFYC4t5TnK

          Only one boy at your parish?
          Sounds like there is an awful lot of contraception going on at your parish (or NFP run-amok), or your parish is just flat-out dying. Prayers that folks at your parish start having more children!

          • Paulette Mcmahan

            Our parish lies in the Bible belt south. As a matter of fact, it lies in the very city that gave birth to the KKK. Yes our parish is made up of mainly older folks, but we are a strong family. Pray that more people have open minds to the Catholic faith. I long to have a large thriving parish….and keep it in my prayers.

        • Matthew Moucha

          Time then for some of the men in the parish to start serving and set the example! Only excuse I see for a women or girls to serve is if it is a mass for a women’s conference or a convent.

    • Matthew Moucha

      ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! Boys don’t want to be seen as “girly” and after 50 years of femi-nazi b.s. being shoved down everyone’s throat…. There are plenty of boys who are willing and want to do serve! Mass at St. Patrick’s in Charlotte sees regularly 10 young “priests” in training from ages 8 to 18 on a regular basis! This comes from the pastor and bishop establishing the rule and trust me, real men will answer the call! But, it also means women need to actually “let” the men lead for once and not be filled with selfish pride!

      • Jo Flemings

        Joking aside, the whole situation actually calls for leadership from the… um, well, leader. He is the one who will set the tone for the value in the job and how it is approached, prepared for, and executed- and he can probably get the best out of any willing soul in the job if he knows what he is doing, although the point of having that kid, the boy, right there is to give him an up close and personal look at what it might mean to make himself a universal oblation in exactly this same way- by serving. For the girl, it is a beautiful way to be near to the Lord in service, and might increase her devotion and inspire a vocation in her akin to sharing in the company and ministry of angels, but she would have to pretty sharp and otherworldly to start with and well, not many teenage women are there. Just like not many teenage men have read the Outlaws of Ravenhurst and realize that if a gunman comes into the sanctuary and aims at the priest they better be throwing their bodies in front of him and the Blessed Sacrament as a shield. That is why they are there.

        • Romulus

          Excuse me, but inspiring that boy is not “the point”. The Mass itself is the point — the source and summit of the Faith — and is therefore never to be instrumentalized even in pursuit of a good end. An all-male sanctuary is good and necessary not because it produces vocations but because it does not obscure or submerge the liturgy in the countersign of a female — girl or woman — reducing the sign value of the priest’s maleness to a mere incidental.

          American Catholics will have to get over the protestant notion that liturgy is for our direct benefit.

          • Jo Flemings

            The liturgy like the priest and the Eucharist and the Incarnation are the place where heaven and earth intersect- it is as much an error to make it only about God as it is to make it only about us- God desired perfect unity for us with Himself- we can’t fall into the backside of the spirit flesh dualism of Protestantism by Dei-fying the liturgy- that is almost as disordered as profaning it.

            I have a lot of boys, and a few girls. Some of my boys serve on the altar, none of my girls do. It doesn’t matter if there are girls on the altar in terms of whether or not my guys are willing to serve, it has to do with God and the priest and each one of them as a server. They certainly expect each other server to do their job and yeah, there is an endemic problem with girls on the altar to a point because the minor order of acolyte is probably ordered only toward the male- and so the element of sanctity about it is hindered- of course I am not sure because I am a convert and you all know we don’t know squat because you can take the convert out of the protest but you can’t really ever completely get the taint of protest out of the convert right? (Or at least that is what I hear from the cCs.)

            In any case, if a boy won’t serve because of girls on the altar he is not much of a man in the making. If the girls are all you have and they are slip shod at best then their moms and the priest should have a chat about decorum and some liturgy minded folks should step up their fasting and prayer game for vocations starting with the minor orders- its that simple.

          • Romulus

            Don’t be defensive about being a convert.

            Boys can have perfectly reasonable and principled reasons for refusing to serve with girls. Reasons that have nothing to do with cooties or inadequate self esteem.

          • antigon

            ‘if a boy won’t serve because of girls on the altar he is not much of a man.’
            Or it could be he rejects clericalism’s pandering to the modern notion that women as women are actually pretty disgusting, unfortunately necessary as breeders of course, & to fuel the psychotic multi-billion dollar wank industry, but otherwise of value only to the extent they can be trained to think & act like men, who, you know, do important stuff & aren’t so liquidy.
            Catholicism, pretty much contra mundum everywhere, has always instead upheld the particular glory of women as women, provident of gifts & perspectives men don’t have, & in need neither of being burkaed nor despised for that.
            In theory still does, wink, wink. But while cooties are as good a reason as any, could be the boy or girl who won’t serve or attend such clericalist irreverence – see your excellent opening points above – does so in the instinctual grasp that the poor girl on the altar is there to honor neither her nor God, but to uphold clericalism’s pander to a society that brutally despises both.

      • oeb25

        And of course boys serve because they ALWAYS have “selfish pride.” [why do you make such silly assumptions re: “pride?”]

      • Titan000

        Darn why do men need women’s permission?

    • Maggie

      Perhaps if the priest would recruit father and son teams? Or men. We only have men at our weekday Masses. Little kids are not necessary serving at the altar anyway.

      • Paulette Mcmahan

        I agree, but we are a very small parish, there is only one boy the right age to serve. Most of our men are older. I wish that it were that easy.

        • Romulus

          There is nothing wrong with older men serving. In fact in many ways, it’s preferable because it enhances the dignity of the liturgy and establishes that it’s a manly place, where a manly event — the Bridegroom sacrificing himself for his bride — becomes sacramentally present.

          In my parish, all of the most important serving tasks are handled by men, who are far more willing to step up when they will not be made ridiculous (or possibly put at risk) by being made to serve alongside children.

    • Romulus

      Boys don’t want to serve in your parish because you have no Traditional Latin Mass — right?

      When liturgy is radically stripped and minimalized and dumbed-down, as it is most places, servers have nothing to do. A girl can feel fine just being on display with no meaningful tasks, but to a boy or man it’s degrading — which is why they flee it.

      • Paulette Mcmahan

        Our servers are very active in the Mass, even though it is not a Latin Mass. We only have one boy of age to serve and takes his turn. Then only other two boys are 6 years old and are still learning about the Mass itself. I don’t know about this “dumbed-down” version of the liturgy, but we have a very active liturgy.
        Once again let me again say we are a very small parish…we don’t even have our own priest. We don’t have the numbers to allow only boys to serve, that would mean one boy serving all the time. Our girls are very proud to be serving and do many things like hold the candles, help our Deacon with the chalice and such. Why do you feel as if girls(women) like to be “degraded” by just being on display.

        • keith marino

          I don’t believe Romulus said that women like to be degraded. He just said that women (in general) don’t mind being “on display” which is why beauty pageants are so popular. I stuggle to think of the existance of male beauty pageants, but, in this devirilized society in which we live, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the next thing well see.

  • Matt Kososki

    Thanks, Vatican II.

  • Peter J Reilly

    42 Duh Mayor

  • Robin Poe

    We don’t have altar girls in our parish, because it’s a Latin Mass parish, and all the little boys are clamoring to be altar boys. They are allowed to start after First Holy Communion, and they really study to learn the Latin responses as young as 6-7 years old. Being an altar boy in a Latin Mass parish is a lot more demanding, but they strive even harder to do it right. Altar girls to me always look kind of stupid, and they usually have some feminazi mom pushing them to do it.

    • Jo Flemings

      I don’t know why women just don’t get it, if we aren’t sitting in the pews watching how they do this there is no possible way they are going to get it right. And we need our girls learning the nuances of how to determine the exact artistic thrum of each unique Mass and the correct symmetry of the choreography and timing of the movement on the altar, as well as the incorporation of the sound aspects of the Mass and how they integrate together. That way they can tell the boys whether or not they are getting it right, duh.

    • Sldgman

      I have to respectfull disagree with you, Robin. I have never seen a boy who is ANY good at liturgical dance. The boys should be playing guitar and drums in the church band.

      • AreAy

        Why do you watch liturgical dance, is the real question.

      • Wyatt Desmond McCray

        I’ve seen many boys that had the foot work down but I’ve never seen a boy good with streamers and ribbons. The Church should introduce liturgical break-dancing to better accommodate the marginalized boys.

    • Bethany_Tomus

      I was an Alter server and didn’t have a feminist mom but I have since changed my opinion of female alter servers as I grew in my faith and learned how important alter serving is for young men.

      • Sonny Moon

        You were an “Alter” server?

        • Bethany_Tomus

          I am dyslexic so I meant to spell altar. But thanks for being so kind in correcting my spelling.

    • Katie Duke

      Robin I have to disagree with you– I’m a young woman and I proudly served my church as an alter server for over 11 years. When I started as a 7 year old it was because I, not my mother, who is not a so called “feminazi”, wanted to do it. The only reason why I quit is because I went off to college. The best part was learning the different positions and being promoted to higher, more leadership-involved roles( my last year I was promoted to thurifer and i couldn’t have been more proud! I was finally one of those people that i had always looked up to as a young server.) I loved serving my church and so did the other girls and young men who served with me (and the roles were just as demanding between the two sexes because they were the SAME ONES.) Sorry but sometimes people do things because they want to not because their “feminazi” parents force them to do it.

      Also I think its great that all the little boys want to be servers- hopefully it will inspire a few to become priests! (We sure could use them in my diocese!)

      • Derek Brown

        The truth of it is that boys are deterred from altar serving when girls are doing it too. If you look at a school playground, the boys and girls separate generally.
        So many priests will tell the story of how the call to be a priest was awakened and fostered when they were altar boys. To serve as an altar boy is to share in the ministry of the priest at that moment. That’s why traditional dress is a cassock and surplice. They are wearing a sign of the ordination of the priest that they are serving for. Since an altar girl cannot grow up to be a priest, she is serving in a role that points to an ordination that she cannot receive.
        With the priest shortage being widely known and since being an altar boy drastically increases the recognition of the call to ordination, then why wouldn’t it be proper for only boys to do the job? It is logical on multiple levels and would foster an increase in the clergy.

        • jenny

          If a boy has an intetest in serving which diminishes upon the realization that girls too serve in this capacity, I would suggest that the appropriate response is to assess the character of the boy’s initial interest and the content of his internalized beliefs and assumptions as they relate to gender, identifing the underlying cause of the boy’s diminished interest such that the issue may be efectively deconstructed, challenged, and remedied. Quite apart from the fact that such attitudes reveal their host’s membership among those benighted souls clinging desperately to a traditional gender hierarchy that has long since been relegated to only a few insular and impotent institutioms (the Catholic Church), and quite apart from the boy’s demonstration of a vapid and anemic interest in serving, this boy’s respinse to the presence of girls suggests that he is in any case entirely unworthy of participation in alter service. When the US armed aervices were racially integrated, there were many white men who lamented the great loss suffered by the nation- the loss of so many men who would have surely devoted years to military service but for the intergration of blacks. Similar responses followed the admission of women to higher education and homosexuals to the military. Of course, the nation did not suffer the absence of these base citizens, and as with the little ignoble maybe- alterboy, the objection to the participation of historically marginilized groups in any profession exposes those individuals who object as unworthy and undesirable. It is time to turn your critical gaze upon the boy, and to devote yourself to understanding and the correcting his deformations of character.

    • mo7

      Robin, people of faith should speak carefully. I have 7 children 5 sons, 2 daughters. They have all been altar servers. Guess what? 2 of my sons are discerning religious life. My daughters know they can’t be priests. My daughters served because the church ask them to. If they are trained correctly at home, these are the only conclusions they will draw. Try this: “Johnny I am so glad you are an altar server, you know some day you could be a priest.” “Sarah, it is so good for you to serve the church. [period].” BTW we go to Latin Mass now, but not because of girl altar servers.

    • Kate Archer

      As a mother of 3 female altar servers, and one who is in training, I find your remark insulting and mean spirited. we are all called to serve and answer the call to serve. Of the older three girls, they now after high school graduation, are Religious Education teachers, Eucharistic ministers, lectors, and the one who is serving now, is one the Core Youth Group team, and accepted to the Diocesan Leadership Institute, Never once did they feel like they were stupid to serve GOD on the altar. they just wanted to serve any way they could.

      • Robin Poe

        Not meaning to be insulting. It’s just the way it looks to me. However you want to wash it, girls at the altar have a discouraging effect on boys wanting to be altar servers. In our parish where there are no altar girls, we have over 70 altar boys in a medium-small sized parish – no shortage there. I really don’t get why girls want to be altar servers. There are so many other ways that they can serve. In youth ministry for example or the choir. A lot of our teenage girls sing in the choir and we have the best choir in the city – absolutely beautiful.

      • Amanda

        I was one of the first female altar servers when it became permitted in the early 90s. My parish was mostly male servers, with a few female servers. My dad served as the altar server coordinator; he was an altar boy back in the 50s.

        At my church children basically had two options: be an altar server, or join the choir. As someone who can’t carry a tune to save my life despite numerous voice lessons, I’m grateful the opportunity to be an altar server was available to me.

    • Gravitatis Ultissimus

      What country are you from? Even Latin parishes in the U.S. use only altar girls these days. Some people used to say that it was not permitted to use them for Extraordinary Form Masses, but that changed by Tradition. As to them looking stupid, my parish took care of that problem by allowing only A or B students from the parochial school to serve. That keeps us from having to worry that any of the boys will try usurping this function.

    • Sonny Moon

      “Altar girls to me always look kind of stupid, and they usually have some feminazi mom pushing them to do it.”

      Stereotype much?

    • Sonny Moon

      “We don’t have altar girls in our parish, because it’s a Latin Mass parish…” Yeah, cuz the Latin responses are waaay to hard for girls to learn. Plus, they have cooties.

    • Sandie Pembrook

      You are entitled to your opinion, Robin, but your last sentence in particular seems to be based on ignorance rather than truth. I was an altar server growing up and my mom was not a feminist. I found it invaluable to be able to serve my parish in this way as a teenager and I served many masses and weddings with my regular priests in addition to the extra demanding masses (e.g. Confirmation) with the bishop. Perhaps you should think twice about what you are typing before you click “submit” on your comment next time.

  • Nolan Esenberg

    Ok………. ummmm is this a joke? I am an 8 year veteran MC at my church and its a mans job to attend to the altar and its duties.

    • Jo Flemings

      I think we just ran out of those a few decades ago….

      • keith marino

        Ran out of what…”men’s jobs”? How about men’s vocations? And…for that matter, how about “women’s jobs” and women’s vocations? Perhaps some have heard of the complementarity of the sexes and realize that there still are men’s jobs/vocations and women’s jobs/vocations and that there is nothing wrong with this…that…in fact, God has ordained it to be so. Equal in diginity for sure, but complementary…not in competition. I could go on but I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that your comment was one of humorous sarcasm.

        • Jo Flemings

          Men. (And it was intended to be humorous sarcasm in the same vein as EOT is itself, but it was also a not so subtle jab.)

        • Titan000

          For some reason women always want to do men’s stuff. Please lay off of men’s vocations.

      • Romulus

        Apparently not, Jo. You just need to stop looking in the wrong places.

        • Jo Flemings

          Hope you’re right, Rom! Heaven knows I’ve done my part, I have nine boys…. :o) but alas and alack, only one is perpetually professed in religion and on his way into the priesthood.

          • Romulus

            My hat’s off to you. But we still have some disagreements about liturgy.

          • antigon

            ‘I have nine boys’
            Well, that should take care of thy purgatory anyhow.

          • Jo Flemings

            HAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh you totally get it!

  • Rothierway

    Apparently, all of the LA celebrities who
    opted not to make the trek to the Sundance Film Festival or Paris Couture last
    week decided to go shopping.
    L o u i s V u i t t 0 n 0utlet

  • Adam Hovey

    Whilst I am not against female altar servers, per se, (Fr. Mitch Pacwa has spoken a bit about this), I did realise, Sunday, that all but one (I think) of the Altar Servers (and there were many) was male. Again, I am not so much against female altar servers, as much as I am against people trying to force female altar servers!

  • Ridicule and satire are somtimes the most potent form of truth. “Everything good has a point,” old GKC said, “like a sword”.

  • Jeff Walczak

    Knew this day would come 🙁

  • Real CYM Thoughts

    So many of these comments have given me heartburn…

  • Cminor

    Normally I just come here to enjoy the satire, but I’ve gotta jump in on this one. I’m in a fast- growing parish in the Southeast. We have male and female altar servers and as far as I can tell, it’s about 50/50. If some parishes are having problems with “boy drain” the solution isn’t to run off the girls–though we like to think of serving as “priesthood training” at the end of the day it’s about service and only a percentage of the boys who serve go on to be priests. Make sure the parish isn’t creating a specifically boy-hostile environment (somebody slap Fr. Brian for me, please!) and parents, create the expectation that your sons willserve. They can play soccer some other day.

    • T. Audrey Glamour

      Yeah, why do Cathoic sports groups schedule practice on Sundays? The other question is why do parents take their kids to practice rather than Mass?

      Oh wait, that wasn’t even funny.

      • Cminor

        I’ve actually never lived in a place with A CYO program; it’s a shame they’re holding Sunday practices. If I had the answer to the other I could have been a more effective catechist; some of the excuses I’ve heard for skipping Mass or Faith Formation were pretty sorry.

    • captain monday

      “but only a percentage of the boys…..” But ZERO percent of the girls go on to be priests.capt

      • Cminor

        Yes. And the ones I’ve known are fine with that.

    • JD

      Cminor, I wonder if you and all in favor of girls as altar boys are lobbying to dress your boys in wimples and help the nuns in the convents?

      • Cminor

        Don’t be silly. Altar serving is about serving, not playing dress-up. Did you by any chance notice that my point was that the responsibility for getting boys to serve lies with the parish and the parents? And that there are parishes and parents out there successfully doing just that? Last time I checked, the male-female sex ratio in the US was the same as ever; if parents in some parishes aren’t practicing good leadership with their boys they shouldn’t complain when the girls step up.

        • JD

          Don’t be naive, its never been about service. Do you really think there were no ways for girls to serve the Church before 1993? Altar service is inherently linked to the priesthood. Having girls serve at the altar is just as silly as having boys pretend to be in the novitiate at a convent. Unless of course you think women should be priests (which is what started the girl altar boy movement in the first place).

          The argument isn’t how to maintain an even balance of boy and girl servers. It’s that girls shouldn’t be serving in the first place.

          • antigon

            Lay off! Altar chicks are foxy! Perfect complement to the Hootenanny Mass!

          • Thadypus

            “Altar service is inherently linked to the priesthood.” [citation needed]
            There is absolutely nothing in Canon Law or the GIRM which says anything like that at all. You and anyone else who says that are grossly misinformed. This is an axe I’d like to grind with a lot of people I generally would agree with.
            This imagined link is why people are opposed (or for) girl altar servers. There needs to be a more complete articulation of how the liturgical roles are related. When we relegate certain ministries to being mere stepping stones to a different ministry we do a grave injustice to those ministries. Serving at the altar is no more a stepping stone to the priesthood than being a Lector or an Extraordinary Minister of the Holy Eucharist. In the same way, the deaconate is not a “level” before the priesthood and the priesthood is not a “level” before monsignor, which is not a level to bishop, to archbishop, to cardinal, to pope. Each ministry is their own vocation and each one has special importance. To limit them to simple stepping stones is probably heresy and certainly bad catechesis.
            I was an altar server for over a decade, I’m not a priest. My brother was not an altar server, he is a priest (and enjoys the Latin Mass). There isn’t even a casual link correlating service as an altar server to becoming a priest so, please, stop saying that.

          • JD

            Perhaps you should study how altar service came about before you label people uncatechized heretics. You do know that all priests are first ordained to the transitional diaconate right? And all bishops are first ordained priests? Lector and acolyte used to be offices to which one was installed after altar server. At each successive office the level of education and discernment for a young man would increase and some went on to the priesthood. Your personal experience doesn’t somehow undo the Church’s reason’s for creating said offices.

            P.S. altar service is not a ministry as a server is not a minister. And the priest is the only Eucharistic Minister, I suppose you meant to say Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Betrays some poor catechesis, but not heresy 🙂

          • Thadypus

            For my use of the word “ministry”, please refer to the General Instructions of the Roman Missal, Chapter 3 (Paragraph 100):
            “In the absence of an instituted acolyte, there may be deputed lay ministers to serve at the altar and assist the Priest and the Deacon”
            Being an altar server is a lay ministry. In the absence of ordinary ministers, extraordinary ministers may be used. As a lay ministry, it is open to all who are appropriately disposed and properly trained.
            Minor Orders are no longer used and the Instituted Ministries of Acolyte and Lector are minor parts of the priestly formation (lasting about a year for each, depending on the diocese, which I supposed is a “suitable period of time” Can. 1035). Why? Because we have lay extraordinary ministers. The laity and their dignity were a particular interest for the Fathers of Vatican II, especially those rotten liberal theologian advisors like that Joseph Ratzinger.
            Did you know there are _permanent deacons_? That at one point in history there were deaconesses? That the ministry of the deaconate was essentially non-existent for 1500 years until Vatican II? The Fathers reinstituted the order because they saw the need for helpers (just like the Apostles when they made the first 7 deacons in Acts 6). It is a distinct order, not a mere stepping stone to the priesthood. The priesthood is a distinct order from the episcopate, not a mere stepping stone to it. Bishops are priests (Cardinals are priests and deacons of Rome, in tradition with the first Cardinals). Young men become priests because they want to be priests and bishops continue in their priestly ministry while also taking on the responsibilities of the episcopate. They are priests first (and forever in the line of Melchizedek).
            Priests who seek power (and Bishops or Cardinals) are a blemish on the Church. They are a cause of scandal and corruption. They neglect their primary ministry (offering sacrifice for the people of God).
            All of this is besides the point, however, since becoming an altar server is not a requirement for entering the seminary and becoming a priest. (Can. 1024-1025, etc)
            P.S. Although I did specify “extraordinary minister” I will refrain from commenting on you reading comprehension skills.

          • JD

            Sigh.. yes Thad I know all of that and I am very glad you took it upon yourself to read up, but ordination to the transitional diaconate has always come before priestly ordination. And a priest doesn’t cease to be a deacon, when ordained to the priesthood, just as you rightly state that a bishop doesn’t cease to be a priest, so I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “distinct.” I also understand that acolyte and lector are installed offices as that is what I called them, not minor orders anymore. And not only are they part of priestly formation, there are laymen installed as lectors and acolytes serving in parishes in many dioceses around the world who are not in priestly formation. Women were never nor never can be ordained to holy orders, whatever role the “deaconesses” of old fulfilled, it was certainly not an ordained order or a formal ministry which is always a male charism. I’ve not said that being an altar server is a requirement, only a great aide in young men’s discernment. And since you mention BXVI, I suggest you read his writings on the liturgy and the laities participation (hint: it’s not what you imply).

            And you called them Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist which is erroneous (and probably heretical 😉 ) instead of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. They administer Holy Communion, only the priest confects the Eucharist, which I’m sure you understand though you used the wrong term, but I won’t comment on your reading comprehension either nor your misunderstanding of the term “ministry”. The EMHC’s are the ministers referred to in ch. 3 pa. 100, conditioned of course by the absence of an acolyte, not altar servers. It seems to me you don’t comprehend that “extraordinary” implies that the scenario must be just that and that in ordinary situations (meaning when a parish has enough men), there ought to be the acolytes (as well as lectors and altar boys). I’m not interested in running down your rabbitt hole any further, but would recommend you read the links provided.

            “Indeed, the obligation to support groups of altar boys will always remain, not least of all due to the well known assistance that such programs have provided since time immemorial in encouraging future priestly vocations.”

            “Therefore, in the event that Your Excellency found it opportune to authorize service of women at the altar, it would remain important to explain clearly to the faithful the nature of this innovation, lest confusion might be introduced, thereby hampering the development of priestly vocations.”


            “We are dealing with the privilege of serving in an act of worship to which nobody has any inherent rights.”


          • JD
          • Thadypus is a Wikipedia editor. {{citation needed}} Seriously, are you a wiki editor?

          • Thadypus

            No, but I do have an MA and I consider reading Canon Law “fun” so I think that makes me sadomasochistic.

          • Thomas Sharpe

            Da…. only males can be priests. If there isn’t a correlation there, then there is none for a young man serving as a novice at a convent.

          • Vince M Sr

            yea like he said it all. I mean look at me.. I am just another head in the pew and check in the collection basket but now my partner in crime back in the 60’s when we served (top rated funeral servers team ’64 and ’65 ) together is now a Bishop.. who would have thought!

          • Cminor

            “Should girls be serving?” is an interesting theological discussion (also one that I leave to the discretion of the magisterium as it’s outside my expertise); however, it’s not the question that was at the core of this particular satirical piece. That question was “does letting girls be servers ‘feminize’ the ministry and consequently push boys out?” My contention is that that depends on how those in authority–namely priests, parents, and ministry coordinators–approach the ministry. Thus the answer may be different in different parishes; in my personal experience, the answer is no.

          • Vince M Sr

            As a young girl, my mother served on the alter long before such practices were allowed out in the general public. She was at the time in a school for abused girls and served Mass at the convent that ran the school.
            (note this comment is not satire and I can’t think of anything to make it funny)
            I personally don’t have a problem with girls serving on the alter I do have a problem with parents not teaching the need to commit and follow through on that commitment by showing up at the assigned Mass.

    • Jay Green

      Cminor, you are correct that “only a a percentage of boys who serve go on to be priests.” However, when you reduce to total number of boys serving by allowing girls to serve, you get a lower total number of vocations. There are a great many ways girls can serve God within the parish, but service at the alter should be reserved for boys.

      • Maria

        Does you parish only allow a certain number of children to serve? If not I am amazed that you can think that allowing a child no matter what gender to serve would prevent others from serving

      • Cminor

        Jay, you seem to be working from the assumption that altar serving is a limited resource and that allowing girls to have it means that some boys will be deprived. I am unaware of any Catholic parishes that put caps on membership in this program. The requirements in my parish are minimum age and the ability to learn the job to be done. They don’t specially recruit girls, and they don’t discourage them. We normally have three or more servers at every Mass (six Masses per weekend in three languages) and based on my observations half (maybe more) of the servers are boys. And by the way, our diocese has a pretty busy vocations program as well.

    • Maria

      Thank you for that reply I am dismayed at the number of people that think you have to push the girls away to encourage the boys. Jesus said to welcome the children not to segregate them, would you treat Mary like that? Would Jesus treat them like that?

  • Jim

    This is an amazing discussion. Rome says Alter Girls are OK but I think this may have been a mistake and is causing confusion, Woman Priest is an example. Our holy Father has mentioned about woman taking a more active role in the Church and this I agree with but, even though the Mass is central to the faith and the highest form of prayer, there is so much more than to the church and being Catholic doesn’t stop at the door. A former vice Chancellor of New York was a Woman.

    I think it is us trying to be trendy.

    Also, I think the decline in alter servers is also because most of the time, there is nothing for them to do. Around this area, the hazardous smoke is seldom used, the Asperges is seldom if ever performed and with Communion in the hand, no need for the Patens.

    When I want Smells and bells, I go to the Maronite Catholic Church.

    YMMV, just a thought.

    • oeb25

      Cripes almighty. If I had a dime for every simpleton who didn’t know the difference between alter and altar I’d be filth rich. File this away for future reference: ALTER = to change – ALTAR = big rectangular thing in the sanctuary.

      • Jo Flemings

        Alter altar, it’s clearly a not so nefarious plot!

      • Jim

        Oh, I made a typo!!!!!!!!!!!! I need Confession right away!!!
        Simpleton, perhaps, but now I know who the A## is.

      • Maria

        Made me go back and check my spelling 🙂

  • Warren Anderson

    If Axe cologne made a brand of incense there would be no shortage of teenage male altar servers. However, if you think you’re eyes water now from the smoke, just imagine the profusion of tears and coughing when a few of the crew parade past wearing gallons of the cologne, as is typical with the high school crowd.

  • oeb25

    “what type of heals and sparkly makeup best complimented different cincture colors.” I hope they also taught him the difference between “heals and heels”, then he’d be one up on the author of this piece.

  • Guest

    In terms of wearing a “dress”…

  • Guest

    The comments on this made me never want to go to Catholic Church again so thanks folks

    • antigon

      Wait! Come back! You forgot to slam the door!

    • Guest

      I sadly have to say that I see your point. So many sexist comments on here, it’s depressing.

      • antigon

        And scarier than – mice! Eeek!

      • Towanda

        Please don’t put all Catholics in this category. I think that a few of these “Christians” have forgotten Jesus’ 2 great commandments. It is a shame that people talk this way to eachother, especially Christians. We are suposed to be an examle, ACT LIKE IT!

  • Bridget Felix

    I believe no woman/girl should be on the alter. Alter serving was made specifically for young men considering the vocation in to the priesthood. Wearing a cassock and a surplice is an honor and truly a manly thing to do. Jesus was called names, spit on and trampled on, but he did not give up and carried His cross to Calvary and died for our sins because He loves us.

    • mimi

      Actually, in the early Christian times (in the times of Apostles firstly) womenen could be elected as deacons and there`s no talk about being Altar servers (knowing that deacon can serve at the Altar). They also had (probably deacons) to baptise catechumens (women), make sure that Christians, who can`t come to the Mass (sick, prissoners), wouldn`t miss the meeting with Eucharistic Jesus Christ and etc. But ANY Christian woman CAN`t behave like this. Any Christian CAN`T CARE MORE ABOUT MAKEUP HEELS or sth. like that MORE THAN ABOUT JESUS AND HIS/ HER RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. And every woman, who served as deacon in the early Christian times had to be deserved for this responsibility. Alter servers too. And… After thinking about how devoted to God Christians were then, how much they trully loved God and showed their love each day, how much did they appreciate their temples (hearts) and saved it from sin, there comes one mind: ,,I`m a REAL PAGAN… If I came to any Christian community from then, they wouldn`t let me come in and participate fully in the Eucharist before the period of exorcisms, catechumenate and babtism.”

      • jimmy

        This is baloney. Don’t believe it.

  • mimi

    Can Christian make fun of someone and especially in such way??? Or can any altar server to care about heals and makeup more than about God and the Mass (liturgy of remebering the Price which Jesus paid for us and at the same time participating in these events through the Mass) while preparing to the Mass, throught the mass or at least 10 minutes after the Mass? Read the Bible, Patristic literature and writtings of other saints and you will find the answer not just to this question, but to many others… Those, who behaves as it is described in the artical (and not only them, but, probaly, everyone: me and you) will be ashamed, will understand how many times they does what hurts God`s heart and, at least, will start to think about changes, which they must to do with themselves or will reject the truth.

  • Jean Robertson

    haha…… oh those priestesses always had the places of honour around the druid tree… !!

  • Heather-Marie Merrill

    Why is it on a Christian site we have to belittle and put down. No wonder non Christians think we are a bunch of hypocrites. I am a proud Catholic with a hurting heart when I see articles like these and there responses.

  • T.Procopio


    The new recruits with their instructor.

  • Patsy Koenig

    Altar girls are an abomination. Men train boys and women train girls. That was the way it was for thousands of years, in every field, not just the Church. Women and girls are taking over the Catholic Church; and the consequences are terrible. Yet, if there was a fire or a flood; women would expect the men to help the women and children first, and not to worry about themselves. That is one obvious reason why women should not preach or teach in Church; they are physically weaker. And viva la difference!

  • Tony

    My sister is an altar server, but she is also in the military. The church and state respectively permit these, but these are masculine positions. My sister is a tough gal and I’m really proud of her. I think in an ideal world though, our men wouldn’t be so effeminate that our women have to take over their duties.

  • Towanda

    I don’t normally comment on these forums but the talk on this one embarrassed me as a Catholic and a Woman. Would you talk like this to Jesus or His Mother? (Who by the way happened to be a woman) I consider myself a conservative Catholic. I am also the head of my small parish RE program. As a leader in the parish I like to educate myself on issues as they come up. This is not an issue in my parish. We have 8 altar servers and 4 of them are girls. I thank God that we have them. No one in our parish has question either the girls or the boys serving.

    As I said, I am the RE coordinator for my parish and I look at every topic as a chance for education. I always look first to the teachings of Jesus and the Church. The Catechism of the Church does not state whether servers are to be male or female. Read CCC 1143-1144. (If you don’t have the Catechism of the Catholic Church in your home I highly recommend you get one. It is a treasure trove of information!)

    Next I asked myself and prayed on what would Jesus say. In my prayers I came to the realization that throughout the Bible, God and Jesus use women as much as if not more than men to get a message across. Besides Jesus, who is the greatest person in the bible? Mary our Mother…a Woman. Who saw Jesus first after he rose from the dead? Mary Magdalene…a woman. Why was May and the other women going to the tomb that day? To serve Jesus and care for His body. I could go on and on with the numerous times that women served Jesus throughout His life. So I really don’t think that He would have any difficulty with female altar servers.

    My next train of thought drifted to the comments of those who say their sons don’t want to serve because it is a girl job. Or they are like the girls. Or they are afraid of being teased. If this were my son I would have to ask him why he wants to serve in the first place? If his answer is not duty bound or that he feels compelled to serve God and Church I would question his understanding of the position. There is a place in service of the Lord for all of us. It is our job as leaders to guide our youth and teach them accordingly. Remember Jesus words when you are feeling teased or rejected; “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…” MT 5:11

    I have a strong faith and belief in the traditions of the church. I sometimes think that we get too caught up in these traditions and forget the purpose and meaning of the traditions just as the pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ time did. I think that God sees the “Act” of service more than the gender of the server.

    Let us use this Lenten season to be kinder and more understanding to each other. Remember that when you are interacting with others, no matter who they are, you are interacting with Jesus. We are ALL God’s children and He loves us accordingly. May you all have a blessed Lenten Season.

    • jimmy

      Your response is further indication to me that feminism has indeed infiltrated the Church and Catholic women. To not understand that men and women are different and, therefore, by God’s design, have different roles makes my point.

      Only men can become priests so only boys should hold the position of altar boy, giving the boy an opportunity to consider priesthood. The position of altar boy engenders in the boy the possibility of priesthood, something girls can never achieve.

      To promote girls’ consideration of the religious life as nuns, perhaps the Church should begin a program designed to do what the altar boy positions does for boys. But girls should not serve as altar servers.

      • Towanda

        Jimmy, I never said I was a feminist. Anyone who knows me would be laughing very hard to think that anyone would ever put ME as a Feminist! In fact, as I am giggling right now! I really am very traditional and old fashioned.

        Honestly I used to feel the same about boy altar servers until I did some research. I just can’t find anywhere in the teaching of the church that altar serving is actually meant to prepare boys to be priests since the induction of seminaries. I think that this is assumed because in the past only boys were altar servers, which in my opinion was D/T the times.

        The best I can find is an article written on EWTN by Cardinal Antonio Javierre Ortas. He does a much better job of summing up this topic and I must say that this is exactly how I feel as well. Be sure to read the whole article…it is a long one! (He is even longer winded than I am!) Go to and read his letter.

        I want to thank you for not being “Nasty” in your response although grouping me with feminist?…Not nice!!! 🙂 Just kidding ladies!!! I love being a women and I do think we are very different from men. I am glad that I can vote and earn a good wage but I miss the niceties that we lost and YES, I miss male altar servers…just for different reasons. Read the article in the web site above.

  • Marie Van Gompel Alsbergas

    My sons quit serving at the altar for 2 reasons. 1. They were too tall for the robes and 2. a pretty little blue-eyed blond girl 3 years their junior was selected as “Altar Server of the Year”. And yes, it really was a Fr. Brian who did this!

  • Mark Wagner

    Being an Altar Boy is what leads young men into the priesthood, but the girls are discouraging them from serving, and making them feel out of place, in my parish I have noticed over the years, fewer and fewer boys are wanting to serve, because the program is now so overrun with girls that they feel that alter serving is now a girls job. That is why we have seen the numbers in seminaries drop in recent years, the girls have driven them away. We need to stop these torments, we need young men to become preists more than ever today, please girls, for the sake of the Holy Priesthood, let the boys serve.

    • jenny

      Why do you expect that boys and men must be so coddled and catered to… u mean to suggest that boys are so weak and fragile that we must construct an environment free of obstacules, discomfort, and hardship, wherein every challenge has been eliminated, every criticism silenced, where encoragement, flattery, and the appearance of success are certain- all of this must be undertaken so that boys remain secure and confident in their roles? So that boys do not feel discomfort, girls must be excluded?
      And you appeal to the girls– you ask them to accept the artifical barriers erected to prevent their full and free participation in every area of social life, to content themselves with a circumscribed existence for the comfort of the boys? Let the boys retain this for themselves, say you. And what else besodes? Let the boys alone practice politics, write legislation, negotiate mergers, perform surgery, fight the enemy, and represent the Divine? Surely you see that the girls have declined your proposition, that they have gained admission to the competition for all that is valued, pursued, eateemed….and everywhere, they are winning. And they are winning despite the presence of obstacles and the absence of encouragement,goodwill, and role models, and without pep talks, ego boosts, head starts, and gentle handling.

  • Rev. Lou Mascitello

    None in my family served at the altar. (I was always tapped to be an usher, though) One brother has entered religious life. Had they not done away with the Tridentine Mass I might still BE Catholic. A sentiment I hear a LOT. Change can be good. Sometimes, though, tradition can be better. Another sentiment rehearsed quite a bit. Even the “modernization” of the vowed-religious has had a reversed effect on parishes far and wide…

  • SmokeyBehr

    Don’t you know that your make-up and heels should compliment whatever the Chausible/Stole of the day is?

  • Michael Leggett

    Good Satire of “Novus Ordo Land USA.”