Or perhaps that should be “Underage” Lectors.
My young friend Laura was recruited while in 6th grade to be a regular lector by our then- associate pastor. She had good poise and presentation skills by any adult standard, so I concurred with the recruitment. Three years later, I would put her in the top ten of our sixty or so lectors. She’s good. She prepares. She’s mostly unflappable. She projects a maturity beyond her years.
Thanks for the commentary on the CSW thread a few days ago. I scheduled four of our regular teen lectors for Sunday Masses this past weekend. I requested teacher endorsement of every recruit for the eleven slots not covered. I was mostly happy with the result.
If I were recruiting for a big feast, and not an ordinary Sunday, I would have been at ease with Laura and maybe two or three others. I can probably chalk up a few shaky performances to nerves–not much different from first-time adult lectors. One I think was cocky overconfidence. So I’m not bothered about the possibility I damaged the presentation of the Word. The questionable lectors got the prayers of the faithful.
A number of young people take their faith more seriously than their parents. I’ve known many such people in my nearly twenty years of ministry. I consider it my mission to do all I can to encourage them. I was encouraged to be an organist in my parish when I was in 8th grade. (Interesting, as I had never taken a music lesson in my life.) I declined. I didn’t encounter any like encouragement till I was in college, and by then, most of my Catholic friends had already shifted into inactivity.
My regular readers know I don’t consider this an aspect of liturgical participation. But I do consider involvement in liturgical ministry as an authentic discernment of gifts. People should be encouraged to examine and develop their gifts, spiritual and otherwise. The Church needs a more accurate discernment mechanism for people, especially young people. Unlike most religious and diocesan vocations offices, I think true vocations will arise from the universal call to holiness. And if a person’s abilities for liturgy, formation, or charity are encouraged and developed at an early age, all the better for the Church.