Acolyte


#1

Our parish has gone from 3 active deacons to 1 in a matter of 2 months. To relieve the only deacon of being present at all liturgies, the pastor and staff has decided to appoint acolytes to assist the priest. The first Sunday Mass that I attended with an acolyte, she said the Rite of Penitence. I was under the impression that only the Presider or Deacon could do this. What exactly are the duties of an acolyte, not altar server?


#2

Acolytes prepare and purify the sacred vessels and assist as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. In the absence of a deacon, a priest says the Penitential Rite. You mentioned that the acolyte is a woman. A woman cannot be an acolyte. She must be an altar server.


#3

[quote="JoLou, post:1, topic:338814"]
Our parish has gone from 3 active deacons to 1 in a matter of 2 months. To relieve the only deacon of being present at all liturgies, the pastor and staff has decided to appoint acolytes to assist the priest. The first Sunday Mass that I attended with an acolyte, she said the Rite of Penitence. I was under the impression that only the Presider or Deacon could do this. What exactly are the duties of an acolyte, not altar server?

[/quote]

Only males can be instituted acolytes.

Males or females may be altar servers.

Neither may do what you describe.


#4

If the parish has other priests, it would seem it is their duty to help even if they are not concelebrating, rather than allowing laity to approach the altar.

I'd speak with the pastor about this, because it is serious matter that needs to be addressed.


#5

[quote="R_C, post:4, topic:338814"]
If the parish has other priests, it would seem it is their duty to help even if they are not concelebrating, rather than allowing laity to approach the altar.

I'd speak with the pastor about this, because it is serious matter that needs to be addressed.

[/quote]

Both lay instituted acolytes and commissioned altar servers quite correctly and licitly "approach the altar."

The bottom line is that a deacon need not be present at the Mass and there is no need to "appoint" "acolytes" to pick up the slack. Either the priest does it or one of the existing lay ministers.


#6

[quote="JoLou, post:1, topic:338814"]
Our parish has gone from 3 active deacons to 1 in a matter of 2 months. To relieve the only deacon of being present at all liturgies, the pastor and staff has decided to appoint acolytes to assist the priest. The first Sunday Mass that I attended with an acolyte, she said the Rite of Penitence. I was under the impression that only the Presider or Deacon could do this. What exactly are the duties of an acolyte, not altar server?

[/quote]

"She"? There is no such thing as a duly instituted female acolyte. Either way, an acolyte does not perform the Penitential Rite, the deacon or the presiding priest does,

Altar servers are not always instituted acolytes.


#7

[quote="PopeFrank, post:5, topic:338814"]
Both lay instituted acolytes and commissioned altar servers quite correctly and licitly "approach the altar."

The bottom line is that a deacon need not be present at the Mass and there is no need to "appoint" "acolytes" to pick up the slack. Either the priest does it or one of the existing lay ministers.

[/quote]

Correct. And to take it further, it seems we have morphed into a sacred order of Mass servers rather than people servers. Pastors want a deacon at every Mass; this is not what the diaconate is all about. We serve at Mass, yes, but this is not the crux of diaconate ministry; charity and pastoral care is.


#8

[quote="JoLou, post:1, topic:338814"]
Our parish has gone from 3 active deacons to 1 in a matter of 2 months. To relieve the only deacon of being present at all liturgies, the pastor and staff has decided to appoint acolytes to assist the priest. The first Sunday Mass that I attended with an acolyte, she said the Rite of Penitence. I was under the impression that only the Presider or Deacon could do this. What exactly are the duties of an acolyte, not altar server?

[/quote]

She can't be an acolyte. That ministry is reserved to men. Therefore, she must be an altar server. As an altar server she cannot lead the Penitential Rite. She can only do those things that altar servers can do.


#9

To be an instituted acolyte, one must be a male, and usually preparing for holy orders (but this varies on your bishop's decision). An instituted acolyte is more or less an altar server, but they may also purify sacred vessels, and are given special privileges as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (they do not need a bishop's special permission to do this).

Besides this, they cannot do anything anyone else can. That includes reading the penitential rite.


#10

[quote="PopeFrank, post:5, topic:338814"]
Both lay instituted acolytes and commissioned altar servers quite correctly and licitly "approach the altar."

The bottom line is that a deacon need not be present at the Mass and there is no need to "appoint" "acolytes" to pick up the slack. Either the priest does it or one of the existing lay ministers.

[/quote]

Indeed, they may. My point is that the sanctuary is a sacred place, and ideally you would have the ordained ministers there, and reduce the access of lay faithful only to those who are ministers (acolytes, readers, servers). And if there are priests in the parish, they should be helping at least in what concerns the distribution of Holy Communion, because they are the ordinary ministers for this.


#11

The Roman Missal's Order of Mass has for one form of Penitential Act:

"6. The priest invites the faithful to make the Penitential Act:

Brethren (brothers and sisters), let us acknowledge our sins and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

A brief pause for silence follows.

The Priest, or a Deacon or another minister, then says the following or other invocations with Kyrie, eleison (Lord have mercy):

You were sent to heal the contrite of heart: ...".

The altar server is "another minister".

The Book of Blessings, approved for the USA on 27 January 1989, has a blessing for altar servers, sacristans, musicians and ushers. Its introduction includes:

"1848 Among the liturgical ministries exercised by lay persons are those of altar server (acolyte), sacristan, musician ....". (Book of Blessings, published by Liturgical Press, 1989, ISBN 0814618758, page 699.)

From the context it is clear that term "acolyte" is being used for those who are not Instituted Acolytes. So the terms "acolyte" and "altar server" are being used interchangeably in a document approved by the Vatican for the Roman Rite, in the USA.


#12

Correct. It is common for the cantor to lead the Kyrie. It is not necessary to be done by the priest celebrant or deacon.

The Book of Blessings, approved for the USA on 27 January 1989, has a blessing for altar servers, sacristans, musicians and ushers. Its introduction includes:

“1848 Among the liturgical ministries exercised by lay persons are those of altar server (acolyte), sacristan, musician …”. (Book of Blessings, published by Liturgical Press, 1989, ISBN 0814618758, page 699.)

From the context it is clear that term “acolyte” is being used for those who are not Instituted Acolytes. So the terms “acolyte” and “altar server” are being used interchangeably in a document approved by the Vatican for the Roman Rite, in the USA.

It is not at all clear from that context that that is the case. The two terms are not interchangable and I contend that they have not been interchanged in this document.


#13

Since there seems to be some discrepancy, could I ask the OP what she meant by "The Penitential Rite?" I was under the impression she means the entire bit, but if the minister only recited the Kyrie, it's a different story.


#14

[quote="John_Lilburne, post:11, topic:338814"]
the terms "acolyte" and "altar server" are being used interchangeably in a document approved by the Vatican for the Roman Rite, in the USA.

[/quote]

Or perhaps the Holy See meant that only Instituted Acolytes were to be altar servers :shrug: (I'm joking)


#15

[quote="John_Lilburne, post:11, topic:338814"]
The Roman Missal's Order of Mass has for one form of Penitential Act:

"6. The priest invites the faithful to make the Penitential Act:

Brethren (brothers and sisters), let us acknowledge our sins and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

A brief pause for silence follows.

The Priest, or a Deacon or another minister, then says the following or other invocations with Kyrie, eleison (Lord have mercy):

You were sent to heal the contrite of heart: ...".

The altar server is "another minister".

The Book of Blessings, approved for the USA on 27 January 1989, has a blessing for altar servers, sacristans, musicians and ushers. Its introduction includes:

"1848 Among the liturgical ministries exercised by lay persons are those of altar server (acolyte), sacristan, musician ....". (Book of Blessings, published by Liturgical Press, 1989, ISBN 0814618758, page 699.)

From the context it is clear that term "acolyte" is being used for those who are not Instituted Acolytes. So the terms "acolyte" and "altar server" are being used interchangeably in a document approved by the Vatican for the Roman Rite, in the USA.

[/quote]

Altar server and acolyte are terms that are sometimes used as to appear to be interchangeable, they are not. A duly instituted acolyte can only be installed by the bishop of a diocese and is typically a man on his way to Holy Orders. Bishops may choose to institute acolytes who are not seeking Holy Orders but there is no provision or permission to install women into this role. The book of blessings is not a guide to Liturgy or it's ministers. It is in fact just was it is called, a book of blessings.


#16

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