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Does every parish have rankings for their altar boys?


Our parish has new servers (first year), middle-rank servers and lead servers. There are typically four servers per Mass. Every Mass has to have a lead server (that is, if you are scheduled as a lead, you have to find a lead to substitute for you) and at least one lead server or very experienced middle-rank server for every new server. There are also servers who are incense-trained and servers that have been trained to do bells. That training and becoming a lead is by invitation, but essentially everyone progresses along, provided they even want to be lead servers. (A habit of not showing up when scheduled would result in not being asked to be a lead server.) There is also an enforced dress code that is more strict than the adults would accept for themselves, to be blunt. (No jeans and also no shorts except in exceptionally hot weather, for instance.)

Yes, we are blessed to have exceptionally dedicated altar servers. Some remain in altar serving from fourth grade all the way through high school. We sometimes run a little short, but it is more common for there to be a waiting list. The parishioners are constantly telling the altar servers how much they are appreciated, though.


At our parish, the leader server takes request but ultimately gets to decide who does what, except for very important Masses. That is the server who is supposed to be on the ball and keeping things running smoothly if anything unexpected comes up–it saves the servers from looking at each other and wondering who is going to decide what to do. At important Masses, it isn’t uncommon to have all or mostly lead-level servers, so the scheduling person assigns roles based on (a) who is best-suited and when there is not a difference (b) seniority.


Yup only boys


On dress code we’re only permitted to wear leather black shoes, black socks, slacks and white T-shirt or white polo or if you want o sweat while wearing your vestments white long-sleeves.


Compliments? Never heard of that before except from the MBG and lectors and priests!


When you have a 27 year old strict MC it is…


Oh, wow … our oldest and head MC is a senior in HS


We have servers here up to age of 30 and less we have young pros (old altar boys that give us advice)


We have two grades of servers: those who show up, and those who don’t.


Not exactly; not anything like you describe here.

I suppose one might say we have 2 “ranks.”

We have a minimum age of “First Communion” for the altar boys. Sometimes we have boys who are very eager to serve but are not quite old enough (but still close). Their role is to stay in the sanctuary to observe and learn. They’re not expected to do anything, but neither do we prevent them from doing some of the more simple parts if they’re ready. We call the “apprentice altar boys.” They wear the cassock, but not the surplice. Once they make their First Communion, they get “promoted” to full altar boy.


My parish has Master servers for those in high school or above.

Cross bearers, which tend to be middle schoolers (6/7/8th grade) who are responsible for keeping an eye on the trainees and will be candle bearers if needed.

Candle bearers who are elementary students in grades 4&5.

Trainee servers who are in 3rd (or summer after 2nd) grade and basically help out and look cute.


There is one huge parish is North Georgia that does rankings, n conjunction with the Squires. My dear friend the Monsignor that is the pastor is very supportive of the Knights,
But recall a woman posted here about 2 years ago bitterly complaining that aggressive older servers were “taking” her son’s role before Mass.

As others have said, we barely have enough kids to serve. When we held training last fall, the same 12 kids showed up. One is about to leave for seminary, so we’re pretty short handed.


wow… this is really how it should be. A true ministry and catachsis program


You should feel really blessed that you have so many volunteers for altar service that it makes sense to build such a structure of evaluation and organization.

When I was a kid, I didn’t attend the parochial school, but most Catholic kids did, and further it was an urban area. Kids were close enough they could walk to church without depending on their old man to drive them.

To do this in the modern age, with fewer children in school and the Catholic people spread out over suburbia, you must be doing a great job to have this much interest.


In our parish we have no ranks. We have servers, male and female. No further designation.


At my parish, we have no official ranking system. I (the oldest server at my church) ask the other servers what they want to do, and they choose a job or jobs (book, bells, credence table, cross, etc). There’ll generally be one or two other things for me to do. If there’s a dispute, and no one is budging, then we’ll ask Father who should do what. I suppose I’m sort of a senior server, inasmuch as I make decisions on what to do during Mass, if the need for a quick decision arises, and I make sure that the others are doing their jobs.


I’m in a parish now in which most of the boys are teenagers and away at school, but come back for summers and vacations. We don’t rank anyone, but have a list of what they can do in the context of a Missa Cantata (EF). Solemn and Ponitifical Masses and Holy Week need special practices. Three men, myself included, can take on the role of an MC, one of whom we only have once a month, so the other fellow and I alternate between MC and thurifer. We are training another man to serve as thurifer at present. Normally, a father and son serve as acolytes, alternating sides each week. Another man – a former seminarian and thus our go-to subdeacon for solemn occasions – divides his time between the altar (where he is usually the crucifer) and the choir loft. Occasionally we have a boy from out of town visiting family whom we assign to the boat or to second acolyte, and a seminarian will vest and not serve, but will chant the epistle when he is home. For processions, we borrow a cantor from the choir and vest him, and a sacristan at a local shrine is usually able to give us a hand on our request for nuptial and requiem masses and Holy Week. For Pontifical Masses or bishop’s visits, we have a call list of people involved in other TLMs in the area and MCs in local OF parishes whom we can call upon in advance for help with the pontificals and so forth. Alas, we have no boys we could assign as torchbearers, and the lack of another interested priest or deacon who can easily get away from his pastoral duties means that Solemn Masses are rare.

So, in short, we don’t rank people here, but we have an idea of what they can do in the contexts of various Masses and other services. If we had many boys, then it would be well worth considering giving them rungs of a ladder, so to speak, to which they could attain through service and study. Among men, though, the attitude is more egalitarian in the sacristy, even though it might appear (we hope) very hierarchical and precise in the sanctuary.


Nope. Never heard of ranking altar boys at any parish I’ve been to.


My parish is an FSSP parish so it is probably different than most. But technically, there are only three ranks. The first are the servers who don’t know their Latin responses. They can serve as torchbearers and cross-bearer both of which do not require them to say anything. The second rank are the rest of the servers who know their responses. The only thing that separates them from each other is what roles they know how to do. And then there is MC. At the moment there are only two of those. Myself and one other guy. They are technically still rank two servers who have a little more clout because they are in charge of the servers when they are MC.

The only reason there are ranks is because of the complexity of some of the positions. MCs have to be around 16 or older to really handle the responsibility.


We have mostly girls, some teenage, some very little ones. The little ones are great and very serious about their duties for such young children, but everything’s so big and heavy for them. :smiley: There’s a mature man who I suppose is “head server” - we don’t have a deacon.

Sometimes we’ll have a feast of servers, sometimes a famine with just one. It’s all a bit ad-hoc!

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