Altar Families


#1

My parish was just recently merged with another local parish. At my former parish I was the head of the altar servers. Here at the new parish I continue my duties but in a much more limited way. This new parish of mine uses altar families in place of traditional altar servers. And it is just as it sounds like. The altar family consists of maybe the father, mother, and children. They do not wear the alb or cassock and their duties consist of the very bare minimum tasks of a server which leaves the priest and lay Eucharistic ministers to do some things that an altar server would normally do like setting and clearing off the altar.

Up till now I have never heard of this before so I question whether or not it is liturgically acceptable. I hope to someday recruit enough youth of the parish to form a large enough altar serving corp that could convince the priest to phase out these altar families all together.

Another problem I see is that after the consecration, a lay eucharistic minister goes to remove the blessed sacrament from the tabernacle to bring to the altar. They also repose it after communion. After communion they also immediately take the chalices to the kitchen and proceed to purify and then clean them. At least I hope they do a good job purifying them. I know that the GIRM says that only a priest, deacon, or instituted acolyte may purify the vessels. When I brought that up with the priest he told me that in certain circumstances those requirements can be put aside. He is old, and sick. But even then, I think he could still purify the vessels, or he could relegate that task to me at the very least even though im only a server and not an acolyte

So I guess the point of this post is to ask you all what I should do. If anything at all.


#2

From the GIRM: 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; these carry the cross, the candles, the thurible, the bread, the wine, and the water, or who are even deputed to distribute Holy Communion as extraordinary ministers.[84]

From Redemptionis Sacramentum: [119.] The Priest, once he has returned to the altar after the distribution of Communion, standing at the altar or at the credence table, purifies the paten or ciborium over the chalice, then purifies the chalice in accordance with the prescriptions of the Missal and wipes the chalice with the purificator. Where a Deacon is present, he returns with the Priest to the altar and purifies the vessels. It is permissible, however, especially if there are several vessels to be purified, to leave them, covered as may be appropriate, on a corporal on the altar or on the credence table, and for them to be purified by the Priest or Deacon immediately after Mass once the people have been dismissed. Moreover a duly instituted acolyte assists the Priest or Deacon in purifying and arranging the sacred vessels either at the altar or the credence table. In the absence of a Deacon, a duly instituted acolyte carries the sacred vessels to the credence table and there purifies, wipes and arranges them in the usual way.[209]

As to what you should do, you may or may not wish to speak to the priest. If, as you say, he is elderly, it might be possible that the bishop has given him permission to have someone else cleanse the vessels.

Or, it may be that he is unaware of the rule in RS. At which point, he may be open to your comments.

Or not. And if not, not only will you have not changed anything, but you may have set a precedent in your relationship with him.

I am all for following the rules; we happen to have a deacon in our parish so this is not an issue.

I, for one, am not going to make an issue of infractions. Your call.


#3

Sounds like some “spirit of Vatican ii” abuse garbage that’s infiltrated yet another parish ( not that there’s anything wrong with Vatican ii) I wouldn’t stand for this though especially since I myself am an acolyte server an love serving.


#4

Looking at the GIRM which I quoted above, it hardly looks like "spirit of Vatican 2 abuse garbage. There is nothing in the GIRM quoted that would say that a family could not serve; perhaps if you look through the GIRM you can see if there is a requirement that altar servers wear any particular garb; but if you don’t find anything, then I fail to see why such a charge would be made.


#5

I don’t feel like finding the GIRM but, somewhere it says that the servers where clothing approved by Bishops’ Conferences. Usually cassocks and surplices for guys and if girls [edited]; alb.

[edited]


#6

Looking at the GIRM which I quoted above, it hardly looks like "spirit of Vatican 2 abuse garbage. There is nothing in the GIRM quoted that would say that a family could not serve; perhaps if you look through the GIRM you can see if there is a requirement that altar servers wear any particular garb; but if you don’t find anything, then I fail to see why such a charge would be made.

i agree and i never meant the GIRM and anything you say was garbage but it sounds like there are children at this parish who are able bodied to serve, and according to the GIRM, only , " 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" therefore i am just curious as to why they have decided to let families altar serve if there is no need for them to, since there are children. who can fill this role. Just curious.


#7

Traditionally both young boys and older men serve. The older would do more complex jobs (MC, etc.) while the younger would hold the boat for the thurifer or the torch from Sanctus to Pater Noster. God Bless! [edited]


#8

[quote="padrepio_2012, post:6, topic:333254"]
i agree and i never meant the GIRM and anything you say was garbage but it sounds like there are children at this parish who are able bodied to serve, and according to the GIRM, only , " 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" therefore i am just curious as to why they have decided to let families altar serve if there is no need for them to, since there are children. who can fill this role. Just curious.

[/quote]

Well, it would seem that families have children...

And I don't know anything that indicate\s that an instituted acolyte is of necessity a child.

I think you are used to seeing children serve Mass. When I was in the seminary, there were no children (with the exception of the high school students) and those who served Mass in the main church were usually college or theology - and this was in the early 60's.

In fact, on thinking back, it may have been relegated only to those in theology - which would put them all into their 20's at a minimum. And that was not something that had just been started.


#9

:thumbsup:


#10

The closest I’ve seen to an adult altar server is a father in our parish who’s son has Down Syndrome yet wanted to be an altar server, so his father dresses like an altar server and stands by his son’s side throughout the Mass to help him.

That’s the closest I’ve ever seen to “altar families”


#11

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