What weekday does your church have altar server practice?
Our deacon holds server training at the convenience of the family. Issues include working around the schedules of two-career couples, school and sports obligations, availability of the church, and the fact that, unlike back in the day, a parent of each child must remain present during the session because of diocesan child protection rules. So the parent’s availability becomes a major scheduling issue.
We train the children formally on a Saturday morning every few months and the new servers have to serve 2x evening Masses with a senior server, usually Wednesday evening before they are allowed to serve Sunday Mass. I will sometimes do one-on-one training with the senior servers as needed for things like incense.
They don’t… practice I mean. They have quarterly training but there is no specific practice days. Likely why Father often has to gesture to 8 and 9 year-olds until they get it in the Spring (right before they quit having served a year). Half the time he’s having to get things from the credence table himself.
Not quite this serious at my parish, but this is generally how it goes.
We have four priests (soon to be five! :)) Our pastor never goes to the credence table himself during a Sunday Mass, no matter how lost the servers are. Instead Father just shoots them deadly looks and scares them into figuring it out
We don’t have any sort of formal training. When a boy would like to start serving, he receives on-the-job training. We have adult altar servers and older boys who guide them through the process. In the beginning, the learn where to stand and how to walk in processions. Duties are gradually increased.
The normal sequence is:
• Father turns around and no server is there
• Father makes a urgent beckoning gesture next to his leg; servers don’t notice because of finger up their nose.
• Father clears his throat and glares daggers; servers are playing with hems of their surplice.
• After a couple minutes Father gives up and gets stuff himself.
Note: if one of the deacons or acolytes are present this tends not to happen as much. We rarely have senior altar servers since 95% of our servers start the year after 1st communion and stop by the time they are 9. They are rotated on a 3 to 4 week basis so they generally only serve 15 times or so before they quit.
That is sad that your altar servers usually quite after a year. Do you have any insight into why this might occur? Maybe a more structured program? Maybe less structured? More training? It sounds like the kids don’t really know what to do, so they don’t feel that there is anything to do and they get bored. Since you have acolytes, maybe they could take a more active role in mentoring the kids during the Mass and making sure the process flows smoothly.
Here we have had altar server practice on Saturdays.
I think much of it is that being an altar server is heavily… marketed (???) to kids in CCD for first communion and then they sign them up the next year in CCD. Since 2/3 or more don’t come back to CCD until confirmation 6 years later I suspect much of it’s that being an altar server is seen as something that 8-10 year-olds do. By the time they are in 4th grade it doesn’t seem that cool so they stop. Outside of the two or three acolytes and a woman in her early 50s, I’ve only seen one altar server over 12 in 5 years at out current parish.
I should say the FSSP parish we occasionally attend is quite different in that they have different “ranks” of servers from the little boys who just walk in procession to the teenagers that transfer the gospel, say the responses, etc. They also help the priest with things in the sacristy. They have a progression where being the lead server is seen as something the cool older boys do.
So maybe it’s the fact that the sacristan sets everything up in the OF and that they don’t have new duties that leads them to boredom after carrying a book or bringing up the basin for Father to wash his hands.