Monday, September 29, 2014

Altar Serving for Girls

Yesterday was the annual altar server training meeting for the young people at our parish and it was also the first year Grace was eligible to be an altar server. She, of course, asked to be able to serve. I have a somewhat dim view of her being an altar server but it isn't strong enough for me to disallow it. There are two reasons I would prefer her not to serve.

The first reason is that I was a server as a child in the 80s. I was an adult before I knew that permission for girls to be servers was not granted until long after my serving career was over. I was used as a pawn in someone else's political manipulations and it does not set well with me. That feeling carries over into my views on my daughters' participation which, perhaps, is unfair of me.

I also don't want the feelings of resentment that developed in me over time to develop in them. At my parish growing up, they had a very hard time getting and retaining altar servers for whatever reason. There would be a schedule published, the scheduled servers would not show up, and the deacon would search the church looking for someone to fill in. There was a stretch where I think I served every Sunday for two straight months unscheduled. It got to the point where I would actively hide from the deacon because I got so tired of it. I resented the heck out of it. Why did I have to do it week after week? Never claimed to be holy. I grumbled about it, my sister tolerated, and my brother was in all out rebellion over it.

The second reason is that there is a long tradition of boy altar servers and due to the psychology of boys, the presence of girls on the altar tends to discourage boys from doing it. I don't want my girls contributing to a vicious cycle in the same way that I did. My concern here is not terribly strong, but it does make me hesitate.

In the end, I asked Grace why she wanted to serve. If she could give me a coherent reason beyond just wanting to do it, I would bring her in spite of my concerns, but she could not. We have a lot going on at the house right now so we decided not to add another complication to life right now. We told her that she could go to the next training which I think will be in six months. Hopefully life will have settled down by then, but probably not.

So how do you handle daughters who want to serve on the altar?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We go to a parish with male altar servers only. The Life Teen team has been sent here to help "evangelize the youth" of our parish, so we'll see if that tradition holds. It is beautiful to see your son serving at the altar despite the complaints the morning of and the constant need for black shoes. I have no strong feelings towards girls on the altar, only that I can see how serving could inspire young men to discern a vocation, and that is something all Catholic men and women should encourage.