Altar servers from one diocese serving in another


do Altar servers andAcolytes from one diocese serving at a wedding in another diocese have to get permission from that diosceses Bishop to serve there?


No …


Yes. Acolytes are only instituted for their own parishes. I know this from being a long-serving acolyte at my parish church and attending development courses as a continuing requirement by the diocese in which I serve. That being said, other dioceses might have different requirements/less restrictions.


The person to ask is the priest who is going to celebrate the wedding. Different places may have different rules, but if he says you’re okay, you’re okay.


Unless a person is permanently instituted as an acolyte by a bishop, then the permission to serve is entirely dependent upon the pastor. If there is a lay permanent acolyte, then their ministry needs to be approved and allowed by the new diocese and then is assigned to a parish. If it is a religious acolyte, then the permission lies with the religious superior and the individual pastor as in cases in which the acolyte is not permanent.


Should just be able to get the pastor’s permission. My son was actually invited to serve the Easter Vigil states away when the priest found out he was a server. My mom was coming into the church receiving her sacraments.


I don’t think so. When my aunt died in the Greensburg Diocese, many of the mourners including the readers were from Pittsburgh and elsewhere and it wasn’t a problem.

Altar servers are about the same I’d think. They aren’t officially “installed”


Culburra1 asked “do Altar servers andAcolytes from one diocese serving at a wedding in another diocese have to get permission from that diosceses Bishop to serve there?”.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal has “100. In the absence of an instituted acolyte, there may be deputed lay ministers to serve at the altar …”.

Only men can be instituted as acolytes, not women. Men are required to become instituted acolytes before they can be ordained as deacons or priests. The 1972 Motu Proprio “Ministeria Quaedam” shows that a man can only be instituted as an acolyte once: “11. Unless they have already done so, candidates for ordination as deacons and priests are to receive the ministries of reader and acolyte …”.

Given the Roman Missal’s preference to use instituted acolytes instead of an altar servers (i.e. “deputed lay ministers to serve at the altar”) it seems strange to me that there would be an additional burden for an instituted acolyte to perform his ministry. To say that an altar server only needs the permission of the pastor/parish priest, but an instituted acolyte has the additional burden of getting the permission of the local bishop does not seem reasonable.

In the ceremony to institute a man as an acolyte the bishop’s homily begins (“in these or similar words”):

“Dear sons in Christ, as people chosen for the ministry of acolyte, you will have a special role in the Church’s ministry. … It is your responsibility to assist priests and deacons in carrying out their ministry …”.

So if by informing the local bishop the instituted acolyte is better able to assist the priests and deacons he should do so. But unless he is ordained or the bishop follows a Canon Law procedure to excommunicate the man, he should be able to participate in the church’s ceremonies as an instituted acolyte.


It has nothing to do with what seems reasonable but rather how we as Church validate an individual’s claim to be what they say they are. You can’t present yourself to the Church for marriage and say, “I’m baptized, take my word for it.” or go to a parish where no one knows you and say, “I’m a priest from such and such; I’ll be celebrating Mass here today.” There are documents to verify these things. An instituted acolyte is instituted under the auspices of his ordinary and will need “verification” to serve in another ordinary’s purview.

That aside, the OP and most folks on this thread likely mean altar servers (not acolytes), and those are deputized to the role by the priest celebrant based on whatever information satisfies him that they are properly capable of fulfilling the duties.


No, the priests have to get permission, too. All clergy have to get permission; I do not think any bishops make exceptions to that since the adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This is because clergy represent the Church no matter where they go.

Bishops typically still allow pastors the latitude to include laypersons in roles open to the laity at weddings and funerals, at the request of the family.

On Sundays or more “public” Masses? That is another matter. I would think it depends on the diocesan policies having to do with child and youth protection policies, though.

That’s just my experience, though, and I think that was what was being done under the prior Archbishop of Portland. I don’t know what the rules are with Archbishop Sample. He didn’t just keep all the same rules as Archbishop Vlazny, so it could have changed.

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