Female Altar Servers? (Update)

This was previously posted on my blog on blogspot, but now I decided to post it on here with a few updates.

Certainly, there have been numerous debates among the Catholic community everywhere on different topics. The one topic I’d like to discuss today is the topic of female altar servers. I’d like to first say that this could be very controversial and each person may have their own opinions, but in this blog post, I’d like to talk about my own experience as one and my views. Thank you, and I hope you will read this blog post in its entirety.

I grew up in a parish in the Diocese of Winona, and female altar servers were very normal to me. My older female and male cousins were at one point servers, so it just seemed like a very normal ministry in my church that I could do. After receiving my First Holy Communion at age seven in second grade, I had to wait until I was in 3rd grade in order to be trained as a server. I remember the first time I was being taught how to serve and how anxious and nervous I was on the first mass I was to serve at. My parents constantly reminded me that the altar was very sacred and I had to be extremely respectful and reverent.

My experience as an altar server was not only limited to Sunday masses, but I started attending daily mass in which I participated in serving everyday. The congregation who attended mass never said anything about how females shouldn’t serve, so I still found females altar serving to be very normal. I expanded my daily mass ministry by playing piano or organ for a communion reflection, and then returning to serve afterwards. I was surrounded by people who never said a thing about why females shouldn’t serve at mass.

When I was a freshman in high school, I attended a High School Immersion at a religious sisters’ house of formation. It was in a different diocese than my own and there was no one else from my diocese there. It was there that I learned so many other young females my age had the thought that females shouldn’t be serving at mass. It was very eye-opening and all though the view on the subject was very different from mine, I still appreciated and tried to understand their view.

After that retreat, I spent time looking up the topic and reasons why females shouldn’t be altar servers. Among those reasons, one that stood out to me was that altar serving was to try and inspire vocations to the priesthood to males. There’s concern that females might interfere with that vocation, or that they themselves might think it’s possible for females to become priests. I didn’t quite agree with the thought since I myself had never had the intentions or belief that females can be ordained in the Catholic Church. My cousin is a seminarian in our diocese, so I’ve gotten to know some seminarians quite well…and let me tell you, I support the priesthood more and more everyday. I pray for those in the seminary, and I take any opportunity to explain to people why women shouldn’t be ordained.

I do understand that female altar servers are still a topic of discussion within and outside the Catholic Church. I think the main point is the difference of the diocese. If a girl grows up in an environment where female altar servers are the norm, there is a very small percentage that the girl will think that females altar serving is wrong. I personally have decreased my time altar serving and have instead played piano/organ during daily mass for communion, or accompanying on Sundays.

The few points I wanted to make was that not all female altar servers think that women should be ordained. I think that altar serving was something that brought me closer to God and a clearer understanding of my vocation. Because of the close proximity to the Eucharist, I’ve found myself more conscious of the actions, thoughts, and things that I say.

In a way, I could say that altar serving has brought me to be more open about becoming a religious sister. Although, there’s still a lot of time and prayer before I know what God is truly calling me to be, many other female altar servers and I know that ordination to the priesthood is not one of them.

As for the update, I hardly serve anymore because I discover that there is reverence in tradition. I don’t usually serve unless the parish priest asks me to when there’s no other servers there. But truthfully, females are actually not supposed to be servers/acolytes!
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Female Altar Servers? (Update)

  1. It’s better to be in keeping with tradition, instead of just going all out and break away from our olden traditions. At my parish, we have female altar servers, but we have an equal amount of male/female servers. We would always save the thurifer jobs for the males, as to preserve just a little bit of tradition. Some of the girls protested this age-old tradition, and we really didn’t have much to say, as that we told them, that it’s tradition, and we have to stick with it.

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    • That’s good to hear! At my parish, there’s about an equal divide as well. The majority of both genders aren’t fully aware of the reverence they should have on the sanctuary. We don’t usually use the thurifer, so I’m not sure about who would do the job at my parish. I’m glad you guys stood up for tradition, not that many girls understand why they shouldn’t serve or do certain things. I also didn’t understand the reasoning as to why until recently 🙂

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  2. Pingback: A Catholic Teen’s POV: Women Ordination | VibrantCatholic

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and decision with altar serving! This is a beautiful post and you do a great job stating your opinions and choice in a loving way. I actually recently had a similar experience as well! I’ve altar served for the last six years and LOVED it!! I loved serving our Lord, assisting in the best prayer of all time, and being the second closest person to the Eucharist when it undergoes transubstantiation! But recently I had conversations and things had come up about boys being altar servers and after looking into it I realized that God was calling me to use my gifts elsewhere.
    I actually learned in two comments on this post: http://www.catholicallyear.com/2015/11/why-my-daughters-are-not-altar-servers.html that put boys altar serving in a great analogy! It said something to the point of this: Women give birth and men protect the mother and child. AKA women are the tabernacle and men as priests and altar boys protect it. Women don’t need to protect the tabernacle because they ARE the tabernacle. They can instead be sacristan and prepare the church and altar just like Mary made preparations for our Lord!
    Isn’t that beautiful!! So I decide to step down from altar serving and have learned that I can still serve our Lord and participate in the Mass by singing or Lectoring! Which I love doing both!
    Thanks again for sharing! Maybe I should write my story and experience of altar serving on my blog! I’d love it if you came over and checked it out!! https://desiringheaven.wordpress.com/
    Monica 😀

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