Adult altar serving

I’ve often thought this is the most logical argument for why women are not permitted to become priests. I fear the priesthood would all of a sudden go over to 80 percent women, and since we already seem to have 80 percent women doing almost everything else associated with the Church except for K of C, that wouldn’t be good.

The trend lately seems to be to have mixed genders of servers, typically one boy and one girl, although I have seen a few cases of two girls and maybe even on occasion two boys. Of course, when it’s EF, it’s all boys.

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Do you think there may be a correlation between this and the severe reduction in priestly formation? Conversely could this be a contributor to the woman who are becomming deconess outside of an order from the Holy See in the Amazon?

When one sees discussion about moving to ordain women as deacons or priests because there is a priest shortage, one needs to answer the underlying question of why more men aren’t stepping up to take the position of priest. From what I have read, in the Amazon there is some sort of cultural disrespect or loss of status associated with a man being unmarried and/or not having children, so men prefer to marry rather than become single, celibate priests. I do not know enough about the situation to say whether the better approach would be to ordain some married men as priests, or to try to increase the respect for the role of celibate priest. I am also pretty sure that this isn’t the first culture in world history where the Church had to deal with this issue, so they should look to history and try to draw on whatever worked in the past.

In the USA the situation is different because we do not have some great cultural respect attached to a man having a wife or a bunch of kids, nor do we have cultural disrespect for unmarried priests. Any disrespect for priests in this current society is because a small percentage of priests in recent decades have committed some horrible crimes, not because they weren’t married or didn’t have children. Rather, the situation in USA seems to be that men don’t wish to live celibate lives and are not motivated to sacrifice having sex/ having a wife and possibly children for the perceived joy or benefit of serving God as a priest. If women then step in to fill the gap left by these unmotivated men, a lot of the men would be only too happy to let women just handle it, the same way a lot of men let women handle going to church, praying, and doing other religious things which they tend to avoid unless they get a big push or a wake-up call. It’s telling that Fr. Heilman runs a site called “Roman Catholic MAN” and is always trying to post things that appeal to and motivate men, and his audience still seems to be about 80 percent women.

I really think at this point making a heartfelt appeal to St. Joseph is about all we can do…that and maybe fostering the Catholic communities, whether traditional or charismatic or what, that actually move some men to step up and take a leadership role. It’s obvious in the FSSP parishes there are men being priests and doing other stuff all over the place. I mention the charismatic groups because I’m in a couple of those prayer groups and both of them have a lot of women but are led by really enthusiastic lay men. It’s refreshing to see adult men getting all excited about coming down to church to pray for an hour a week and not treating it like just some chore they have to do because their wife wants to go.

I think Parents should encourage more of their sons to serve


How about encouraging their sons to become priests?
Pius XI noted in Ad Catholici Sacerdotii that more prosperous families especially too often actively discourage the possibility that their sons might have vocations to the priesthood.

83. Yet it must be confessed with sadness that only too often parents seem to be unable to resign themselves to the priestly or religious vocations of their children. Such parents have no scruple in opposing the divine call with objections of all kinds; they even have recourse to means which can imperil not only the vocation to a more perfect state, but also the very conscience and the eternal salvation of those souls they ought to hold so dear. This happens all too often in the case even of parents who glory in being sincerely Christian and Catholic, especially in the higher and more cultured classes. This is a deplorable abuse, like that unfortunately prevalent in centuries past, of forcing children into the ecclesiastical career without the fitness of a vocation. It hardly does honor to those higher classes of society, which are on the whole so scantily represented in the ranks of the clergy. The lack of vocations in families of the middle and upper classes may be partly explained by the dissipations of modern life, the seductions, which especially in the larger cities, prematurely awaken the passions of youth; the schools in many places which scarcely conduce to the development of vocations. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that such a scarcity reveals a deplorable falling off of faith in the families themselves. Did they indeed look at things in the light of faith, what greater dignity could Christian parents desire for their sons, what ministry more noble, than that which, as We have said, is worthy of the veneration of men and angels? A long and sad experience has shown that a vocation betrayed - the word is not to be thought too strong - is a source of tears not only for the sons but also for the ill-advised parents; and God grant that such tears be not so long delayed as to become eternal tears.

It’s probably harder nowadays if a parent only has a couple of kids, to encourage them into the religious life when it means there won’t be any grandchildren from that child, and the child probably won’t be very available in the parent’s old age.

In the previous eras when families were having 5 or even 10 kids, if one became a priest and one became a sister, there were still other children to have grandchildren and look after the aging parents. I

How can parents encourage their son’s to become priests, when they do not exemplity the Catholic life themselves. A significant number of priests appear to be coming from female dominated households as well, and these priests surround themselves entirely with women. The problem is Church wide and complex, but just as the Catholic Church by the fruits of the Holy Spirit, stands alone on the matter of contreception, woman will never be allowed to become priests.

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I agree with you that’s a big problem. If the parents aren’t strong in their faith, then it’s less likely that the kid will be. Although I have heard several priests speak in homilies about how their families were not very religious or in some cases their families weren’t even Catholic, and they somehow got a call from God to become priests anyway.

You mean like St. John Bosco whose father died when he was 2 and who was raised by his mom who assisted him in his ministry educating boys?

I don’t think the household being “female dominated” is a deal-breaker for a boy becoming a priest. He will need some good strong male role models outside his family of course; preferably his parish priests, who have influenced many fatherless or orphaned young men to follow in their footsteps. I will say that some (not all, but some) of the young parish priests in the 60s, 70s and 80s when I was growing up were less than exemplary in this regard, but those priests had not been raised in “female dominated households” for the most part because they grew up in the 40s and 50s when single parents weren’t the norm.

As for priests “surrounding themselves with women”, if men aren’t coming to church and volunteering to help with stuff then the priest has to work with the persons he has available. If men don’t like there being so many women involved at church, then be the change you want to see in the world, get down there, volunteer, and take five of your guy friends with you.


Our pastor has driven me out of every ministry I have served in and driven several men from the Church altogether. I have been reduced to doing things I don’t agree with, and aiding without asking. I take it as a penance as this has been my Church for many years and hope that the Church will survive the current onslaught of distruction. We are feeling the fruits of the ‘modern’ Church and all it’s glory. It will not recover in it’s current state.

I’m sorry you are having trouble with your pastor. Hopefully one day you will have a new pastor.

A few years back, I attended the ordination of a transitional Deacon to the Priesthood in the Diocese of Portland, Oregon. One of the ordained was a 59 year old man who was a late vocation.

So, God writes straight using crooked lines.

My uncle began serving in his early teens. He is now pushing 80 and is still serving in the same parish.

I thinks the “priestly formation” thing has passed him by.


Yeah, my dad started serving when he was 12 (1925) and was still serving regularly when he married at the age of 39. He’d served the same Pastor that whole time.

He returned to the ministry when he retired 25 years later and served as both server and EMHC until he could no longer navigate the steps to the sanctuary, at some point in his 80s.

I don’t know a priest in a parish who is “surrounded by women” who isn’t surrounded by women by default. When a parish’s attendance starts to dwindle, it is rarely the men who are attending and the wives who are staying home or who don’t volunteer.

As for women being “allowed” to become priests, if it were possible it would happen. It is recognized as impossible.

The same is true with adults assisting at the altar. Priests aren’t looking at a group of volunteers and favoring the women. They’re looking at a group of volunteers and only seeing all women or women and a very few men stepping forward. Again: this isn’t what I’ve seen in healthy parishes with healthy KC groups and parishioners from every demographic.

I understand what you are saying but no parent should discourage their child from a religious vocation because they are worried about having grandchildren or their care in old age.

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I agree with you, they shouldn’t, but I am explaining one reason why they might.

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