Fonticulus Fides

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Altar Servers: Boys vs. Girls

I find myself disagreeing with Father Jim Tucker over at Dappled Things this morning. His most recent post states that he is welcoming the possibility of girl altar servers in the Diocese of Arlington.

Father Tucker states that if it's okay to have women as readers, then, "I really don't see a logical reason to prohibit [girls] from serving the Mass."

Here's a good reason, Father: it harms vocations to the priesthood.

It does. Really. Because being an altar server can help a boy begin to discern a calling to the priesthood. Once girls are allowed to serve, being an altar server becomes less desirable for boys. They'll want to do it if it's a manly task, but if there's a bunch of giggly girls at every meeting, the boys won't bother. Even if the girls aren't the giggling type, boys are going to be less inclined to hang out with girls than participate in a boy-only thing.

Here in the Diocese of Lincoln, we do not have girl altar servers. We are never "short" altar servers at our downtown parish. Even during weekday noon Mass in the summertime, when school is out, Father has at least one altar server. In the smaller communities, it's tougher, to be sure, but I went to Friday night Mass at Saint Patrick's parish in a tiny town nearby (the church's centennial), and this very small church of only 40 families had FOUR altar boys for the mass, plus at least four more boys of the right age sitting in the pews. The girls had other roles -- two of them switched off playing the electric piano (set on "organ). Two others brought the gifts forward. You get the idea.

We also have a very high number of vocations to the priesthood, per capita. Now, there is a lot that goes into that number of vocations -- limiting altar service to boys isn't the one and only reason, to be sure. But being an altar server really is a first step, and it doesn't bode well for priestly vocations when there are girls shooing the boys away.

Well...Father Tucker doesn't read my blog, but if you talk to him, you can tell him I said so.



  • I'm a member of Fr. Tucker's parish and I'm (very!) sorry he doesn't see the value of an all male server core.

    Once after Mass the boys were in their server room (which, should we allow girls would have to be drastically altered!) and the Acolytes were telling 'honor' stories about different Masses they had served and priests they had served under. It was obvious they were having a great time -- so I stuck my head in to see what was going on. My son's response, "You wouldn't understand mom, it's a guy thing."

    If you think serving is a possible path to priesthood, you want to preserve it as all male. If you can't explain to your daughter why she can't be a server, how do you explain why she can't be a priest?

    I'm saddened.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:11 PM  

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