Help with altar server training please?

Hi I am a 13 year old altar boy helping one of my priests with altar server training for both girls and boys. My priest friend and I want the servers to appear more reverent and to be more organized. We just finished the organization part of the job and would like to improve posture and appearance at the altar. Any help you could give would be great. If you need more details feel free to ask. Things I would like to discuss is what they should under the albs as they are a little see through and I have had servers show up dressed in not so good clothing.

Thanks,

Michael

Hi MJFord :wave: Welcome!

Sounds like you have the right idea, I’m not Master of Ceremonies, but I am sure there are lots of good people here on CAF who can help you. I wish you all the best with your endeavour!

Thanks, I hope I get a response soon because I need this done soon>:)

When I was an altar boy, we used a manual from the Knights of the Altar ( a now defunct group). I have seen this manual for sale on Ebay. Might want to try to get a copy. It was very good, useful and had some stories on altar server saints, etc.

This is a little older than the one we used, but it should be helpful. The link is to a .pdf I found online.

May God bless you!

stjosephschurch.net/handbook.pdf

I totally know what you are going through. I am in chargecharge of the Altar Servers at my parish. My website is a little out dated but might be a good reference for you. Www.sjbservers.org 6 years ago I was asked to lead the servers and I read all kinds of manuals and booklets from Amazon and any where else I could find. There is alot of great how to serve in those books but not much why. Todays kids want a reason.
My program adds a level system, kind of like a scouting program. The more they learn the, and the more they help the more recognition they get. Some kids really shape up knowing that they could earn a pin or a cross. I started out with my own pins and items I had at home in my drawers. But shortly after I got the program running the Ladies Guild took notice of how quickly the kids were improving and have been donating all the rewards I need.
One thing that is also unique about my program is that I now have alot of kids serving at almost every mass. It is not unique for us to have 6 to 10 kids helping at a regular Sunday mass, and 15 to 20 at a Holy day mass. My pastor saw that the kids are well behaved and are willing to no do service before or after the mass. On Holy Days it is not unheard of that the kids will arrive at 3pm or even earlier for a 7pm Mass.
The hard part of this is I sometimes run out of service things for the kids to fix or clean. But they enjoy the social time too.

You are welcome to reach out to me for more info if you would like.

something simple and affordable, black slacks, white shirt and black shoes, is something most boys (and girls if you have them serving) can get at the local dollar store. That way what shoes beneath the alb is uniform. Hair clean, combed and neat (girls can clip long hair), hand and nails spotlessly clean of course. If your servers are in Catholic school their school uniforms can be worn under the alb and require no additional expense.

Indispensable is instruction from the priest covering at least two sessions step by step on the parts of the Mass, words and actions of the priest, words and actions of the congregation, words and actions of the server, so they understand what is happening at each moment and why their role, even when it is to stand quietly with hands folded or resting on the breast, is essential. Custody of the hands, and of the eyes, always on the celebrant or on the altar, is the key to all other discipline issues.

The one thing that seems to make the most difference for our altar servers, especially the younger boys age 8-12, is that we emphasized that they stand straight and at all times have their hands together in a prayer position unless they are actively doing something-- palm to palm, fingers pointed up, not hands clenched. We have them do it when sitting too, unless they are holding a book.

Although that has always been the norm, the kids really didn’t follow through. We did training, and then for a while my husband and I sat near the front and would motion the “prayer hands” to them when they got off task. After about a month, they didn’t need reminding.

This improved behavior and posture on the altar 100%. It stopped the fidgeting and slouching, and helps them focus so they tend not to cut up or giggle either. If they start to drift, now one of the others will give a poke to the drifter and they will snap back to attention.

Thank you all. Is there a dress code you think I should use? Currently the mentality is that since you are under the alb you don’t need to wear something nice but the albs are see through. Anymore help would be welcome.

Make one up and then run it by your priest.

For boys:
Collared Shirt/no t-shirts
Khakis or slacks
Loafers, dress shoes, etc/No Tennis Shoes

For girls:
slacks or skirts/dresses below the knee
blouses with sleeves
dress shoes flats or with heels less than 1 inch (no toppling over on the altar)/ no tennis shoes

For all:
Clean Hands
Combed Hair
No flip-flops or backless shoes (could fall/trip)

As an alter server myself, it is important to sit straight with your feet on the ground and your hands on your thighs. Sitting straight with feet on the ground and hands on thighs makes a server look more professional and reverent.

Yes, you do need a dress code, specially since the albs are supposedly slightly transparent (right word?). Even if they weren’t, you should still be wearing dignified clothing. In my parish, there’s no dress code, but that’s mainly because all of the parents do a good job at making sure their sons look nice on Sunday morning. If it became a problem, we would be the first to institute one.

While this may seem radical, it may also be a good idea to limit altar serving to the boys/men. It is still a valid option, and no priest may ever be forced to use them by the bishop or otherwise. Here’s what Rome says on the matter:

[Female servers *are allowed, but…]At the same time, however, the Holy See wishes to recall that it will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar.

I would recommend something like this:

Guys
[LIST]*]Black/Brown Shoes (ie, dress shoes)
*]Navy/Black Pants
*]White Dress Shirt
*]Tie (optional)
*]Clean Hands
*]Combed Hair
[/LIST]

Gals
[LIST]
*]Clean Hands
*]Combed Hair
*]Umm… lady’s dress code … not my specialty :D. Anyone have any ideas?
[/LIST]

One thing that is severely lacking at my parish is proper conduct of the servers. There’s nothing more annoying to me that seeing servers that ignore the Blessed Sacrament or just give a passing sideways half-bow. So, my one piece of advice is to genuflect when passing before the tabernacle!

Well, a little more in-depth than what is needed for serving at the altar in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, but the following booklet, General Principles of Ceremonies of the Roman Rite (for inferior ministers) is highly useful for both forms of Holy Mass in the Roman Rite:
romanitaspress.com/general_principles_inferior_ministers.htm

Good luck.

allowed, but…]At the same time, however, the Holy See wishes to recall that it will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar.

I would recommend something like this:

Guys
[LIST]*]Black/Brown Shoes (ie, dress shoes)
*]Navy/Black Pants
*]White Dress Shirt
*]Tie (optional)
*]Clean Hands
*]Combed Hair
[/LIST]

Gals
[LIST]
*]Clean Hands
*]Combed Hair
*]Umm… lady’s dress code … not my specialty :D. Anyone have any ideas?
[/LIST]

I agree with everything you said here. I will definitely be using some of your ideas.:thumbsup:

Michael

You have received a lot of different advice. Let me add some more.
Once the training is done, don’t micromanage the servers. Practise makes perfect!
Tread carefully on "DRESS CODE " , not all parents can afford to supply nice clothes to their children. I have seen parishes where blue geans are the norm. Let the priest handle that issue.
The most important things to remember are:
Sitting
Posture: Sit straight. No slouching!
Palms of your hands should be against your legs, with the edge of your fingers close to your knees.
Standing:
Posture straight
Hands folded at a 45 degree angle palm to palm, or palm to palm fingers intertwined.
Walking
Posture straight
Move together as a unit
Kneeling
Posture straight ( bet you guessed that one)
Cover your shoes with the cassock
Always remember to make serving a community effort.
Good Luck & God Bless!

p.s.I served as a boy when only Latin was used. I still serve all these years later, Special Masses, a few times each month. Ready in either form.

Here is a small video with some basics for the OF Mass servers.
youtube.com/watch?v=I_ecMgLf7vQ&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

My son found it useful.

A t-shirt should be just fine as no street clothes should be visible from under either an alb or a cassock. I am not sure if you mean “khakis” to mean the color or a type of trousers, but black or navy trousers are far more appropriate than khaki-colored trousers in my opinion. Keep in mind that no one should see their trousers if the albs or cassocks are correctly fitted.

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