Why so many Altar Boys


I’ve been watching several Traditional Latin Masses online, and I am curious as to why there are so many altar boys that sit off to the side and don’t do anything different from what the faithful congregation do as far as I’ve seen. Any ideas? I’m just curious.


Some of the younger ones just do minor stuff like carrying cross & candles to altar. They’re too young to memorize & recite the pages of Latin that have to be memorized and recited by older altar boys at beginning of mass, e.g. prayer before going up to Altar


How much “younger” are you talking about? In the 1950’s we 4th grade boys were certainly expected to memorize all the needed Latin, and we did. Still recall most of it today in fact.


To specify, I mean like 20 ten-ish-year-olds who stand off to the left of the altar for the entire mass except for processional, recessional, and communion.


Most of the altar boys become Priests ,so there is a plus point to encourage young boys to serve the Church at the easily age ,so that later on they would join the priesthood ,even thought they seemed to do the same things that the faithful congregation do.God Bless


Because they are often trainees. They hold the candles during communion and otherwise are learning the ropes.

Because there are not a ton of Extraordinary Form masses, they cannot be as spread out as they once were before Vatican II.

Also, to be honest, many liturgists frankly think it looks cool and it also serves to makes the altar servers more of a special ministry, etc.

Finally, the more they are up there, the more the kids become comfortable and the greater the chances one becomes a priest.


I think you’ve got that a little backwards. It’s “most priests have been altar boys”, not “most of the altar boys become priest.”


I’ve thought the same thing at my church!!

We have High Masses every Sunday that has like a thirty member choir, and a ten member Altar Guild, followed by three assistant priests, then the rector.

It’s quite the parade!

Some of the members are solely up there as Eucharistic ministers, so they don’t do anything but that.

There’s a few that I don’t see move at all!



If it were the other were the other way around, we’d have an entirely different crisis . . . hundreds of priests at each parish . . . imagine what it would be like if just half, rather than most, of the altar boys from your for the past 60 years were now priests there . . .

We could probably use double, triple the current number to fully staff US parishes (but could we financially support them?). Maybe even quintuple to start more parties where they are needed (Las Vegas has I think 18 RC parishes, and should have just over 100 for its demographics. The church up the street has 17,000 families, and another has 19,000 [whereas my byzantine parish is under 100!]).


Wouldn’t that be a Problem worth having, PLEASE LORD, and I’m sure if we did have that “problem” we’d find a way to make it work.


Oh, it would be a great problem, but we would seriously have to up our game.

Now, 50 or 100 times as many, or more, and will be making irreverent jokes about plagues . . . :frowning:


Do you mean Extraordinay Eucharist Ministers? The few times I went to TLM only the priest handed out the host while an altar boy held the communion plate. Everyone kneeled and the priest started on his left and went down the row and continued this until all received.


I think his post referred to an Episcopal congregation.


There aren’t any EMHC’s at a Roman Catholic TLM, as far as I know. Nor should there ever be.
TEC experience is not comparable or equivalent to the Roman Catholic Immemorial Mass. They can do as they like.


Maybe they could go to other countries where there is more of a shortage of priests


Sorry for the confusion! I meant an Anglo-Catholic (Episcopalian) congregation. It follows the English Missal, which is the Church of England’s pre Vatican II Roman Missal.

Back when I was Roman Catholic, we referred to the EMHC as Eucharistic ministers, but maybe that’s because it was a bit informal at my hometown church and college Catholic ministry?

The Litugy JUST went through the translation changes prior to my conversion, so maybe EMHC became the more common terminology than Eucharistic minister too


We’re talking about more than 10% of the male Catholic population in the US . . .


There are 37,000 priests in the U.S. right now. 100x that number would be 3.7 million. Which is a whole lot, but roughly 1% of the U.S. population. There are currently about 420,000 priests in the whole world. Its sad that this is from a Wikipedia page entitled “Priest Shortage” and not just “Priests of the Catholic Church” or whatever.

Later this year, there’s going to be a Synod or a Council of Bishops or whatever on priests in the Amazon. Because their dioceses really will have like 190,000 Catholics and 19 priests. In the U.S. we average 1 priest for 2,000 Catholics. In parts of the world its 1 for every 10,000.

Lastly, I was going to comment how its small traditional parishes that will have 3 or 5 vocations. Then the huge 4,000+ family parishes have no vocations. Funny that. :roll_eyes:


I really couldn’t tell you offhand whether that’s more or less than 50% of altar boys becoming priests . . . but with 10x the world quantity, we’re still dealing with a crisis.

And suddenly exporting even 5% of Catholic men is going to have really weird effects on society … . .

It’s not just traditional RXC parishes; it’s similar for Eastern Catholics.


A document called Redemptionis Sacramentum came out in 2004 and one of the articles in it says

[154.] As has already been recalled, “the only minister who can confect the Sacrament of the Eucharist in persona Christi is a validly ordained Priest”.[254] Hence the name “minister of the Eucharist” belongs properly to the Priest alone. Moreover, also by reason of their sacred Ordination, the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are the Bishop, the Priest and the Deacon,[255] to whom it belongs therefore to administer Holy Communion to the lay members of Christ’s faithful during the celebration of Mass. In this way their ministerial office in the Church is fully and accurately brought to light, and the sign value of the Sacrament is made complete.

[155.] In addition to the ordinary ministers there is the formally instituted acolyte, who by virtue of his institution is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion even outside the celebration of Mass. If, moreover, reasons of real necessity prompt it, another lay member of Christ’s faithful may also be delegated by the diocesan Bishop, in accordance with the norm of law,[256] for one occasion or for a specified time, and an appropriate formula of blessing may be used for the occasion. This act of appointment, however, does not necessarily take a liturgical form, nor, if it does take a liturgical form, should it resemble sacred Ordination in any way. Finally, in special cases of an unforeseen nature, permission can be given for a single occasion by the Priest who presides at the celebration of the Eucharist.[257]

[156.] This function is to be understood strictly according to the name by which it is known, that is to say, that of extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and not “special minister of Holy Communion” nor “extraordinary minister of the Eucharist” nor “special minister of the Eucharist”, by which names the meaning of this function is unnecessarily and improperly broadened.

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