Serving Mass as a Means to Foster Priestly Vocations?

I have often wondered why pastors and bishops don’t more often use serving Mass as a means to foster vocations to the priesthood and the permanent diaconate? In all sincerity you would think that ALL pastors and bishops would take altar server programs very seriously for both boys and adult males who might just have a vocation as a priest or permanent deacon.

I read where a parish here and there has truly awesome altar server programs. Not only are the servers all-male, they are recruited, they are extremely well trained and they take a great deal of pride in what they do for the Church. As a group they also do things together outside of serving Mass, be it visiting the nearest seminary, gathering for a BBQ or going to an amusement park or ballgame as a group. These groups are proven sources of vocations to the Church.

Why do most altar server programs seem so half-baked in comparison? It would seem this resource is simply too precious to squander. If I was a bishop I think I would make altar server groups a high priority yet I wonder if I am missing something. Are the parish politics too great in many places to build such groups?

This topic is of great interest to me. I’ve been asked to take over the alter server coordinator role at a very large parish. It bothers me that at times there will be five girl servers and no boys serving. Then I think what boy would want to serve with all of those girls? We know a family with a son about 12 yo and he would serve every week but with the current pool of servers he only gets on the schedule once a quarter. Maybe this boy has a vocation but he only gets to serve 4 times a year.

I think I need to meet with the pastor before accepting the position.

I look forward to reading this thread.

In the good old times the number of servers was not limited. Once I served for Cardimal Mindszenti with about 100 other boys.

Yes, you had to talk with the pastors, it is naturals that in the age range 8-12 boys have reservations to be with girls, and there is no reason to kill this natural separation.

As for the ‘good old times’ the persent can be understood only through the past, and this is especially true for the Body of Jesus Christ, which was the same 50, 500, 1000, 1500 years ago like today.

What is a priestly vocation?

Is it an actual call from God, or is it something the man thinks is a “good fit”?

If it is a call from God, then I don’t think it matters where the boy/man participates in Mass every Sunday.

It is a call from God, but if a man has the impression that being in the sanctuary is a very feminine thing, do you think he will want to answer his call? The call is from God, but we have an obligation to create an atmosphere conducive to a potential vocation.

How can being in the sanctuary be “a very feminine thing” when only men are allowed to be priests?

I think that EMHC and lay involvement in everything are much more an impediment than eight year old girls.

I think all of those things can be a impediment. That is why at every rung on the command ladder, altar girls may be banned, from pope to bishop, to pastor to celebrant. No such thing is true for altar boys.

Well, that’s fine, but I do not subscribe to the belief that the men God desires to call to the priesthood are so fragile that having to serve Mass with girls will cause them to reject His call.

Some priests can most certainly give off a feminine aura which I personally do not care for. So can serving. When I was a kid the altar boys wore cassocks with see-through lingerie sort of cottas that went down just before the belt-line and they wore white gloves. While this might warm the hearts of some who pine for the “good old days” the poor boys looked like they were wearing long black skirts with a lingerie blouse. That was a turn-off.

In the Eastern side of the Church, the liturgy has an even more pronounced feminine feel to it.

What you said about boys not wanting to serve with girls rings true, at least at my church. Two pastors ago, there were no altar girls allowed. When the next pastor came and allowed them, a good portion of the boys quit, either immediately, or shortly thereafter. Since that day, server numbers have been dropping and now it seems that most of those who serve do so because they have been requested to serve, not because they volunteer.


I wouldn’t accept such a position unless I was able to first create a plan and then have my pastor sign-off on it before I began. What could be a very productive and rewarding experience could also be one of great frustration if one did not have the pastor’s support.

I have two very strong views when it comes to serving. First, servers primarily exist to serve the man who is standing in the Person of Christ at the altar of sacrifice and not themselves. That demands excellence in serving. If a server isn’t interested or if they just can’t catch on in a reasonable amount of time they need to stand down.

To be an excellent server requires a functional understanding of the Mass, a thorough understanding of one’s duties as a server, good concentration, good manners AND EXPERIENCE. That might mean that rather than 500 servers who serve once every 6 months I would want 50 who serve twice a month.

Roman Catholic Doctrine Vs. The Doctrinal Teaching of the Word of God

Eternal life is a merited reward [1821, 2010]. - Roman Catholicism
Eternal life is the free gift of God (Romans 6:23)

No one can know if he will attain eternal life [1036, 2005] - Roman Catholicism
The believer can know that he has eternal life by the Word of God (1 John 5:13)

The Roman Catholic Church is necessary for salvation [846]. - Roman Catholicism
There is salvation in no one but the Lord Jesus Christ, “for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

Purgatory is necessary to atone for sin and clean the soul [1030-1031]. - Roman Catholicism
Purgatory does not exist. Jesus made purification for sins on the cross (Hebrews 1:3)

Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin from the first instant of her conception (the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception) [490-492].
Mary, a descendant of Adam, was born in sin (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12)

Mary is the Mother of the Church [963, 975]. - Roman Catholicism
Mary was the earthly mother of Jesus ( John 2:1)

The Magisterium is the authoritative teacher of the Church. [85-87]. - Roman Catholicism
The Holy Spirit is the authoritative teacher of the church (John 14:26; John 16:13, I John 2:27)

The pope, as the Bishop of Rome, is the successor of Peter [882, 936] - Roman Catholicism
Peter had no successor, nor was he a pope.

The pope is infallible in his authoritative teaching [891]. - Roman Catholicism
God alone is infallible (Numbers 23:19)

Scripture and Tradition together are the Word of God [81, 85, 97, 182]. - Roman Catholicism
Scripture is the Word of God (John 10:35, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21). Tradition is the words of men (Mark 7:1-13).

The sacrificial work of redemption is continually carried out through the Sacrifice of the Mass. [1364,1405, 1846]. - Roman Catholicism
The sacrificial work of redemption was finished when Christ gave His life for us on the cross (Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 1:3).

God desires that consecrated bread and wine be worshiped as divine. [1378-1381] - Roman Catholicism
God forbids the worship of any object, even t hose intended to represent Him (Exodus 20:4-5, Isaiah 42:8)

Justification is lost through mortal sin [1033, 1855, 1874] - Roman Catholicism
Justification cannot be lost. Those whom God justifies will be saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:8-9).

Justification is furthered by sacraments and good works [1212, 1392, 2010] - Roman Catholicism
Justification is the imputation of the perfect righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Christ the believer has been made complete (Colossians 2:10).

Salvation is attained by cooperating with grace through faith, good works, and participation in the sacraments [183, 1129, 1815, 2002]. - Roman Catholicism
Salvation is attained by grace through faith apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Good works are the result, not the cause, of salvation (Ephesians 2:10).

Mary, “the All-Holy,” lived a perfectly sinless life [411, 493]. - Roman Catholicism
Mary was a sinner; God alone is sinless (Luke 18:19, Romans 3:23, Revelation 15:4).

Mary was a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ [496-511]. - Roman Catholicism
Mary remained a virgin until after the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:25). Later she had other children (Matthew 13:55-56, Psalm 69:8).

Each Sacrifice of the Mass appeases God’s wrath against sin [1371, 1414]. - Roman Catholicism
The once-for-all sacrifice of the cross fully appeased God’s wrath against sin. (Hebrews 10:12-18).

The Bishops, with the Pope, as their head, rule the universal church. [883, 894-896]. - Roman Catholicism
Christ, the head of the body is the Head of the Church. (Colossians 1:18).

The faithful receive the benefits of the cross in fullest measure through the Sacrifice of the Mass [1366, 1407]. - Roman Catholicism
Believers receive the benefits of the cross in fullest measure in Christ through faith (Ephesians 1:3-14).

God has exalted Mary in heavenly glory as Queen of Heaven and Earth [966]. She is to be praised with special devotion [971, 2675]. - Roman Catholicism
The name of the Lord is to be praised, for He alone is exalted above heaven and earth (Psalm 148:13). God commands, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3).

Mary is the co-mediator to whom we can entrust all our cares and petitions 9 968-970, 2677] - Roman Catholicism
Christ Jesus is the one mediator to whom we can entrust all our cares and petitions (1 Timothy 2:5, John 14:13-14, 1 Peter 5:7).

Mary is the co-redeemer, for she participate with Christ in the painful act of redemption [618, 964, 968, 970]. - Roman Catholicism
Christ alone is the Redeemer, for He alone suffered and died for sin (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated in the Sacrifice of the Mass [1323, 1382] - Roman Catholicism
The Sacrifice of the cross is finished (John 19:30).

Indulgences dispensed by the Church for acts of piety release sinners from temporal punishment [1471-1473]. - Roman Catholicism
Jesus releases believers from their sins by His blood. (Revelation 1:5).

The Magisterium has the right to define truth found only obscurely or implicitly in revelation. [66, 88, 2035, 2051]. - Roman Catholicism
No one has the right to go beyond what is written in Scripture (1 Corinthians 4:6, Proverbs 30:5-6).

Scripture and Tradition together are the Church’s supreme role of faith [80, 82]. - Roman Catholicism
Scripture is the church’s rule of faith (Mark 7:7-13, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

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