Seeking Servers

UCA News reports on the unanswered call for altar servers in Colombo, Sri Lanka:

“Children nowadays are distracted by television, the Internet and mobile phones. There are many activities … to amuse kids,” Father Tony Martyn, parish priest of St. Lucia’s Cathedral in Colombo, said at a recent altar servers’ celebration.

More than 3,500 Catholic families live around the centuries-old cathedral. However, its altar servers’ association has only 42 members who assist priests during the English, Tamil and Sinhalese Masses.

I benefitted from a parish with a strong and volunteer-oriented school, But I had double the number of servers in a parish with half as many households. St Lucia is where former CDWDS secretary now Colombo Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don is assigned. There’s been a small uptick in vocations volunteers there.

But is there really a problem when there’s “only two or three altar servers at each Mass in some churches”? Multiple servers can sometimes be more of a distraction than a real help. For Easter Vigil and Holy Thursday, five or six servers is about right. But two alert servers should be able to carry out most routine duties on a Sunday. And even when the archbishop is at Mass–which is rarely more than once a weekend–I think four is enough to handle the extra trappings, especially if there’s a master of ceremonies on duty.

Adjusting expectations. Maybe even a little reform. But blaming video games and one-child families? St Lucia should be doing better. Maybe it’s time for new adult leadership. Bribes will only go so far.

(Image credit: UCA News)

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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