Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Course: Managing Altar Servers 1101. . . . . . The Lesson: Bumpy

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Seminarians at the St Paul Seminary do more than discern, study and pray, as the casual observer might expect. They still have opportunities to experience parish life and some of its lesser moments.

Tyler: One of my responsibilities on pastoral year is training new servers and monitoring the servers we already have. I recently sent a postcard to my current servers, thanking them for their ministry, reminding them that they were responsible for finding their won substitutes, and listing the dates that they had been absent. I spent a good deal of time on the wording of that postcard; I wanted to be sure no one would be offended. I sent the postcards away in the mail, and was certain that the servers would read the postcard and say, “Oh, I’ll have to be better about that.” In my mind, I saw them all going to check the ministry schedule and then throwing the postcard in the garbage. No such luck.

Within a couple of days, I had several angry parents calling to tell me that I had “made them feel like irresponsible parents.” From the tenor of the conversations, I get the impression that it is somehow my fault that the servers don’t show up when they are scheduled, and that it is OK to miss your own day if you were called upon to substitute for someone else who failed to find their own replacement. So, a few of my servers have simply asked to be removed from the pool. So be it. Others have mentioned that they are just “too old” to be servers anymore. I respond, “I don’t agree, but if you insist . . .”

These conversations were the impetus for me to invite children in younger grades. They want to serve, they are willing to learn how to do it well, and they do not suffer from the all too common adolescent time poverty of many of my other servers.

Ask and you shall receive. I put out my invitation and I now have twenty-three boys and girls in grades three and up who want to be servers. Some are very small, and it will look funny to have me process in with them and direct them around the sanctuary, but I am looking forward to the challenge of becoming a model, teacher and shepherd for my new little flock. Future Priests of the Third Millenium
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