reflections from a former altar girl

I used to be an altar girl and I just wanted to offer some of my thoughts

I know many people have problems with altar girls, and I understand the reasoning. I am not here to start a debate, just to offer an alternative perspective

I understand the concerns about the linkage of altar serving to the priesthood but I can assure you, I never thought that being an altar server meant I could be a priest and neither did any other girl I knoew. also, they boys did not disappear when there were girls around; I don’t know why people claim that this happens, I just can’t understand this. while growing up, boys and girls, for the most part, were able to be friends and do things together without any problems. there is nothing wrong with doing the same activities, an aversion of the sexes is just weird to me.

I used to get bored during mass, until I became a server, then I was able to understand things better and pay more attention. isn’t an increase of faith important as well for anyone? I also felt like I was able to do something as a service.

I understand the concern with lack to the vocations but I also have another thought. I feel like boys are just not encouraged in to the priesthood as much as they used to be. there are quite a few boys going in that direction where I live but many others, their parents complain about lack of priests but when asked if their son might be interested, they give a response like “oh no, I didn’t mean my son, he’s normal”. the priesthood is now seen as something very different by a lot of people and with so many secular options, kids are just not pulled in that direction.

being an altar server and a peist are not even close to being the same thing, and the most important thing is to know the difference. a priest is the sacrament of holy orders who acts in the person of Christ, an altar server is just a helper who provides some assistance on the side by bringing things up for God.

anyways, I’m not trying to start a fight or change anyone’s mind. just wanted to write this down somewhere.

thanks for sharing. My daughter altars serves with her brothers. It engages her and lets her know that she can serve and do something. My parish recently sponsored a former girl altar server on a mission trip. she stated that this desire to serve others came from altar serving. I’ve never seen the boy/girl problems people claim and my son’s have served many many years. I think if priests did take more time to talk to the boys that do altar serve, maybe there would be more interest in the priest hood but for the most part, I rarely see any engagement by priests towards boy altar servers and they usually are ignored by them. But having girls serve is blamed instead.

I personally believe that if a boy has a calling to the priesthood, he will find it not matter what. as if, God will let silly things get in the way. the church has been in worse times than now in regards to priests

Thanks for sharing. :smiley:

My older daughter serves as well as her brothers. She is so shy and serving has helped her gain self confidence. I’ll be honest and say I was hesitant to allow her to become an altar server but I am so glad I gave in to her and allow her to serve. We have plenty of servers, both boys and girls. I don’t see how it reduces vocations to the priesthood to have girls on the altar. My older brothers all served before girls were allowed and they did it simply to get out of class on school days–especially funeral Masses because they were fed afterwards. All the boys in my class at school were the same way. It had nothing at all to do with discerning the priesthood for any altar boy I knew. None if the girl servers I know desire to become priests either. The kids I know serving today are simply wanting to serve and they know the Mass much better than most kids. Thank you for sharing your experience.

True. If God wants serving as an altar server to be part of that step, he’ll make it happen, girls or not. :smiley:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I never thought of altar service as an OJT for the priesthood; the girls in my parish do a great job and I think they will go on to get married and raise future priests.

That is definitely a possibility I never entertained!~ :slight_smile:

Yep, I was a girl altar server for years and nobody thought twice about it. I might be very flawed in my thinking, but I think that children are pretty unisex. A child is a child, and neither sex at that age can enter the priesthood, start a family, or pay bills, and they all like to roll in the mud together:rolleyes:

I loved altar serving and made tons of friends, learned to really pay attention in mass, and felt special and awesome wearing white and sitting in special chairs:p

In many parishes today, I don’t know if we would even have altar servers if girls weren’t allowed to be altar servers. Seriously. At my parish, the vast majority of the altar servers are girls (and it’s not even close). And the vast majority of the altar servers stop serving by the time they’ve reached confirmation age. It’s true that altar servers were originally supposed to be seminarians. But… in today’s day and age, we should take whoever we can get. If a child wants to be an altar sever, let the kid be an altar server. Very few people are called to the priesthood or religious life as a child, anyway. Some don’t even hear the call until well into adulthood (it’s not unheard of for a 40-year-old single man to be called to the priesthood). Honestly, if people want to nitpick every little thing that a parish does that isn’t technically “correct”, we’ll lose focus of the Gospel.


In my parish, 95% of servers are between 5th and 7th grade. Most are closer to the 5-6th grade mark.

Pax Christi!

Thanks for sharing.

God bless all who help out at Mass.

I never gave girls as altar servers a second thought, thinking it was natural for both boys and girls…maybe that’s the benefit of only converting about 4 years ago!

I was in a diocese that was under alot of upheaval.

There was a scorn directed to the use of altar boys by the diocesan head liturgist that set off alot of reaction.

It also came out that in Communist Russia, that in certain places boys were not allowed to serve at the altar because vocations came from serving. There was alot of resistence to having altar girls at one time. But in a few parishes it looks like assisting at Mass has become a woman’s duty with mostly women serving, and alot of men sitting in the pews.

I live in a retirement community. Because there are no kids available to be altar servers, the senior citizens do it.

It is true that sometimes a husband and his wife serve together. There is one couple that look alike. I look at them and wonder, which is the husband and which is the wife? The wife wears her hair short like he does, they both have gray hair, glasses, and both wear black oxford tie shoes. They are around the same height. Talk about unisex. I heard where people start to look like each other after they have been married for many years. They often dress alike, and many times the same colors. Women don’t wear dresses as a rule and well…

I suppose when retired, they don’t like to dress up in heels and skirts.

I’m a liturgical purist/traditionalist. I was an altarboy back when they were all boys. BTW, not one of the boys I served with became a priest. In fact, most don’t go to Mass anymore.

But I’m 100% in support of altargirls. I’m always surprised when people oppose altargirls on the grounds that boys won’t want to serve with girls. First, plenty of boys would want to serve precisely because girls serve. But more importantly, since when do little boys get to decide anything? Some may not want to serve with black boys or nerdy boys or “stupid” boys. Some may not want to eat vegetables or do homework. It’s the job of parents to correct them, not to cater to their whims.

My, how times have changed! :slight_smile: I’m going back around 45 years or so when I was a teen. My family went to Mass at 8:00 am every Sunday. Hardly anyone was there at that hour, so the priest usually had no altar server. Since I was always there for that Mass, I volunteered. I received a flat out and out “NO!” the reason being that I was a girl. (I was also turned down to be a reader) Now this was the '70’s and this smacked of misogyny to me. Flash forward to the '90’s. I was watching Mother Angelica’s program when she went on and on about how girls shouldn’t be altar servers because they take vocations away from boys. Who the heck ever started that rumor anyway? :shrug:

Thanks to the OP for sharing such a lovely experience. It should be published in Catholic magazines so that many people can read it.

I’m a convert to Catholicism from Evangelical Protestantism, so to me, there is no “tradition” of altar boys only.

I’ve always thought of altar servers as the people who no doubt served Jesus and the apostles during the Last Supper. I’m guessing that they were probably women.

In the EF Mass, the altar boys are doing more than just serving the priest. They are the ones who actually say the responses, so in a sense, they are partnering with the priest to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. I can certainly understand why only boys should do this.

But in the OF Mass, everyone says the responses, and the altar servers are basically just doing the “bus work.” So to me, it makes sense to include both males and females as altar servers.

Well said, I think serving can be a great opportunity for all!

The Lutheran churches were the same back then. I was envious of my brother when he was serving as an acolyte. My grandma was the organist at our church, and she would let me sit on the bench with her on those Sundays :wink:

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