The age of the Ordinary Form of the Mass altar server


For the Ordinary Form of the Mass, what is the youngest age that a boy can be an altar server?


I don’t believe that there is any specific law that sets an age limit, but obviously, you should not let a five-year-old serve Mass, as they may not have the maturity.

In my parish, the minimum altar server age is the fourth grade.


I don’t know that the rubrics establish a set age. Most beginners seem to start in 4th grade in my experience. I suppose that an unusually serious 3rd grader might, with supervision, be able to start training and experience.


That is exactly the age that they start at our parish, though the pastor has been known to invite a well behaved 4 year old.

And the boys will serve until they are well into college.


No, it isn’t obvious that you would not let a five year old serve. In the Byzantine Church, it is quite common to see very young boys serve, even as young as late 3-year-olds. My eldest son started serving when he was 5. Forty years ago, my younger brother served at 4. My 7-year old son doesn’t yet have the ability to be still for that long.

The local FSSP parish allows boys to serve after they have received their First Communion, assuming that they are otherwise mature.

The closest parish to me doesn’t allow boys (or girls) to serve until 6th grade, which is unfortunate.


It depends on the function, doesn’t it? And does age really matter?

Obviously one has to be able to light a candle or strike a butane lighter, for example. Tall enough to carry a cross. Strong enough to hold the missal or candle. Arm long enough to hold a paten. Scholared enough to respond in the Latin at an EF. Operate a censer. I suppose you could include a 3 ft 5 yr old but what would he (okay, or she) be doing, other than participating in the procession?


Here in Scotland, the server must have made their First Communion before being allowed to serve the altar.


In my parish (in the US), it is required that an altar server had received First Communion before serving.


I think the general rule is an altar server should have received first communion.


In 4th grade kids could become altar servers. It seems like a good age, because by then most girls and boys can handle the candles and other items without issues. Even then, our Parish had a very heavy gold Cross for the procession that was very hard to carry so the taller and/or older kids got that job while most of the 4th graders carried candles.


With the really little ones, it isn’t so much about function. It gives them an opportunity to learn reverence and participate in the life of the church. They also learn about the liturgy from a unique perspective. All the necessary functions can be filled by just having one altar server, but it is common (especially, I think in the EF) to have several, even many serving at the altar. To be honest, though, in the Byzantine liturgy at least, the little ones pretty much participate in the processions. For our processions, though, the more the better. :slight_smile:


Good points, although it’s nice IMO to see everyone in the procession carrying a candle, unless he’s holding the missal or the cross.


In our parish servers are recruited from the kids who’ve just received their First Communion (second graders). We very rarely retain them beyond junior high. The one we retained the longest, a mature beyond her years girl, eventually opted to join the choir as her means of serving.

It’s interesting, that girl used to drive me nuts when she was of preschool age. She was bossy as all get out and I couldn’t figure out why she had so many friends since she was constantly giving them orders. It took me a few years to realize that she was a born leader. I now sometimes work with her as she volunteers at the Arts Centre where I work. She’s smart, conscientious and a joy to have around.

When we don’t have servers, common at the Saturday evening Mass, an adult will carry the cross and usually prepare the altar. Adults will also carry the candles if there are no kids to recruit for the occasion – we have a few girls whose parents will not allow them to be altar servers but will allow them to carry the candles in the procession.


IIRC, at my parish the grade was either 4th or 5th.

Boys only - love my diocese.

Altar servers also hold the paten under the mouth area of those receiving communion.


In the church bulletin, a statement expressed:

   Would you like to be an Altar Server? Adults and students in Fourth grade and older are invited.


***I our parish I’m the one who teaches and initiates the altar servers. As long as they have made their first communion and seem mature enough not to fidget *TOO much ;), they can serve. In out parish they make their first communion at the end of third grade; but if they come from another parish and have made their communion earlier then they can serve.

***The church has no age limit,traditionally ******altar server were adults only, then, long ago, permission was given for boys to be severs, to encourage vocations. Then more recently, it was opened to females, if the bishop of the diocese gives the okay - then is so it is up to the pastor of each parish to say yea or nea. ***


The same age as a girl.:stuck_out_tongue:


An altar server should have made his or her First Communion.




Is this true? I’ve seen some pretty young ones at Spanish Masses. At least they dressed up like servers.

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