Altar Society


First off, let me say I didn't know exactly where to put this, but this seemed like the best fit so....?

I was wondering about Altar Society. I have been looking for someway to get more involved at my church, and it keeps coming up that that the church is looking for more altar cleaners. I read the handbooks that explained the duties and cleaning of the altar linens. I was wondering if it is possible to serve in this manner without having been confirmed or receiving first communion yet? I am a registered member of the parish, attend mass regularly, and am waiting on RCIA to begin again. I truly believe in the Eucharist and the real presence and always try to have the utmost of respect...but I was wondering if the person performing this would need to be able to receive communion incase they discovered what appeared to be a piece of the host, as this would need to be consumed. Does that happen, or would by the time the linens were ready for cleaning, only tiny enough particles would be present that they could be rinsed with water and disposed of properly (into the earth)?

This is a something that I would be interested in doing in the future, just wondering if it possible now, or if it was worth even calling to ask. I would love to hear from people who have done this before.


Hi Honour,

I've been a member of our Altar Society for about 3 years now. Although, we call ours, Altar Guild.

We have volunteers, who look over the altar linens. If there are any particles, the cloth is rinsed in a special sink which drains into the earth beneath our church. When I pick up the linens, they are unfolded, stacked one on top of the other in a single stack, plus hand towels, dishwashing cloths, etc. In the 3 years, I've been doing the linens, I've found no particles. I use a bar of Fels-Neptha on any stains. Lipstick is the worst--especially red. Only detergent and hot water---no fabric softener, no whitening solutions, no starch. In the dryer for 5 minutes, into a plastic bag (helps keep them moist), then dry iron, with the iron set for Linens, no steam.

These were the instructions from our facilitator. She mails an instruction sheet with the schedule once a year.

Each church is different. The best person to ask is the president or facilitator of the Altar Society.


I'm not an expert, so I won't address the "correctness" issue......but if your Parish is anything like mine.....anyone that wishes to volunteer to do anything, is usually welcomed with open arms :)

I volunteer to work at funeral dinners and it's a very fulfilling job, knowing that we're helping families when they are the most in need!

Good luck!
Prairie Rose


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