Good Alter Server program?

My Priest asked me to take charge of the alter server miistery in our Parish…and I gladly accepted. I am a bit concerned as I am a convert from protistantism and never participated as an alter server…I have read other posts where some adults are alter servers and the children who want to become an alter servers must have their father with them for about 10 or so masses befor they are approved. This sounds excellent and would like other suggestions. Would it be out of the ordinary for me to participate as a server (39 year old man). My Parish is in need of training the alter servers and getting the children to understand their role and the litergy of the Mass…some children are seen laughing, making faces not paying attention ect ect…which really detract from the Mass. I don’t want to scare those who want to serve away but I believe I need to bring some reverance into the alter servers. And just some basic training as it is primarliy left up to the children who have conducted server befor…which leads to many mistakes the priest haveing to explain what they should be doing (during mass) and their looks of fear and confusion. There are many Masses where children do not show or decide they do not want to conduct once they arrive so I need to get the parents on board also. If there is any programs that seam to work at your parish I would love to hear about them and study how you conduct the training (training plan and handouts). I have read the thread on male/female servers and we use both so I don’t necessarily want to get into that here (pls keep on topic) as I am sincerly asking for assistance from other Catholics. Pls pray for me as I take on this ministry and hopefully bring young boys to a future vocation serving Christ. I am truly excitted to be part of this ministry and want to make a difference in my Parish.
Thanks you.

I will pray for you. One thing our priest did was have a dvd made to help the boys learn their jobs. It covers everything from how to put on the cassock to how to hold the cruets and when to ring the bells. The boys also have a training session with father. He just trained about 13 new servers in 2 sessions. The dvd was replicated so the new servers can keep it for awhile to help them remember their jobs.
The servers are scheduled in the parish office and I know they do try to place the younger/new boys with older/more experienced ones. Of course, brothers usually serve together to make things easier for the family.
The boys can begin during 4th grade and serve until they go away to college and often come back to serve special Masses during Christmas and Easter. There is no stipulation that says that men cannot serve, but we always have enough boys.
Schedules are made up a month in avance and are posted on the parish website, are sent out through email, and are available in the parish office. I don’t think we have too much problem with servers not showing up, because usually swaps are made before hand. We usually have servers at daily Mass (drawn for the most part from the parish school) and 4 to 6 at Sunday Masses. Most boys serve Sundays 2x a month.
As for behavior, reminders of the importance of their duty and brief admonishments for those who are irreverant will probably be enough. Easpecially if the priest talks to them about the need for reverance.

Are you in charge of scheduling? I wasn’t sure if this is a brand new program, but if it isn’t, try scheduling the new servers with seasoned servers. Even if it is a new program, schedule kids who catch on fast with kids who need help. It is amazing how much kids pick up from each other.
In my parish, children have 2-3 training sessions, more if they need it. Some are fine after 2. We had a priest who required servers to pass a written test before they would be scheduled. I think that was great, but a lot of the parents thought it was too tough. I have seen the woman who used to run the program suit up to serve with a student who needed some help.
I think the key is to let the kids know they have to get to know the priest they are serving for, their are definate differences, especially with visiting priests. It is nice if your parish has priests who are open to speaking with the children before Mass who have questions, or to give them reminders. Some priests are too busy for that. We had a wonderful priest who would tell the children if they made any mistakes, and would tell them what they did that was right. At least keep communications open with the priest to let you know if there are any problems.
Good luck and God Bless you for taking on this wonderful ministry!

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