Our parish altar boys strive to give glory to God through service at His holy altar. They serve at High Mass and Low Mass, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and other liturgical ceremonies as torchbearers, acolytes, thurifers, crucifers, and masters of ceremonies. This privilege is open to men and boys who have received their first Holy Communion. For those willing to make serving at Mass a priority, we established in 2019 a chapter of the Guild of St. Stephen, which meets on the first Saturday of each month after the 9 am Mass. Those who would like to serve at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and are unable to join the Guild of St. Stephen are also welcome to do so. Those in either category should contact one of the priests for training, or just show up for the monthly meeting of the Guild of St. Stephen.
The Rules and the prayer of the Guild of St. Stephen
- To serve at the Altar reverently, intelligently and punctually.
- To make the short acts of preparation before, and of thanksgiving after, serving Mass.
- To observe silence in the sacristy, and great reverence in the Sanctuary.
- To recite daily the Guild prayer.
O God, Who dost graciously accept the ministry of Thy servants and allow us to share in the service of Thine Altar: grant that, whilst in serving Thee we may follow the example of our Patron, Saint Stephen, the first Martyr, we may, like him, come to see Thy Son standing at the right hand of Thy Majesty, and so enter into the Kingdom of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
Saint Stephen, Pray for us.
Saint Pius X, Pray for us.
How to get started
The first job of a new altar boy is to serve as a torchbearer. He should come to his first meeting of the Guild of St. Stephen on a First Saturday, and stay for the meeting after the 9 am Mass. There he will learn how to be a Torchbearer. The progress through the ranks of the parish altar boys is analogous to the ranks of the minor orders, which seminarians at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary (and seminaries of other traditional groups) receive on their way to the priesthood. We hope that by serving at Mass, some of the boys will discern a vocation to the sacred priesthood, and contact one of the priests for help in this discernment process.
Shortly after that, he will be scheduled as one of the six torchbearers (shown in the image to the right). After performing this job for a few months, the Torchbearer will be invited (or will decide on his own) to try to advance to Senior Torchbearer. To do this, he must memorize the server's portion of the prayers at the Foot of the Altar, which can be found here, courtesy of Corpus Christi Watershed.
Once he is a Senior Torchbearer, during the distribution of Holy Communion (when assigned as Senior Torchbearer) he will go to the end of the Communion Rail with his torch to lend a greater dignity to the Rite of Holy Communion.
Acolyte at Low Mass
The next step in the journey of the altar boy here at our parish is to memorize the remaining prayers of the server at Low Mass, and to be trained the ceremony. The hardest task for most servers is to memorize all of the prayers, so a lot of effort up front will help him throughout the rest of his time serving.
Indeed, it periodically happens when a priest is out in public in his cassock that elderly men will approach the priest and start talking about the the time when they served Mass, mentioning that they "memorized all of those prayers." It is very edifying to see the pride these men take in that achievement even in their twilight years. Indeed, if parents gently guide their boys in way, and help them and encourage them to conquer this first, quite difficult step, it will help them the rest of their lives.
This video helps him to get the pronunciation just right:
After passing his test for all of the prayers at Low Mass, one of the older boys or one of the priests will train the boy how to serve the Mass as Acolyte 2 (AC2). He must then observe Mass three times, after which he can begin to serve AC2. We require the boy to observe three times after receiving training because he is much more likely to retain if he observes what he has been trained in, and these images of what they other boys have done will come back to his memory when he is serving and has difficulty to remember what he should do next.
Normally, the boys make many mistakes in the beginning, and this is to be expected, due to nerves, inexperience, or youthfulness. Therefore, we require the boys to serve as AC2 a minimum of 10 times before they even consider training for AC1. Each time they serve, the parents must date and initial their form that tracks their training. Here is the form, which can be downloaded as a PDF here.
After serving at least 10 times, the boy can be approved by one of the priests, or his MC or team captain to train for AC1. He can then begin serving as AC1. He must do it at least three times to be considered proficient at the position.
Ideally the boy would also learn to serve at Low Mass by himself, but because there are so many altar boys, we have very few Masses that we restrict to only one server, and those are the 6:30 am Masses on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We realize those times are not likely to attract many young families, but if a family lives close, or they would like to get up extra early so their boy can master the skill of serving by himself, we would be very happy to schedule him for that spot. Please contact one of the priests to make that happen.
After serving as both AC2 and AC1 at Low Mass, the boy is ready for High Mass. He will again contact his MC or team captain to request training. Here is the High Mass Training Record, which can be downloaded as a PDF here:
Resources for the member of the Guild of st. stephen at St. francis de sales Catholic Church
- How to Serve Low Mass & Benediction, available at Abe Books, Amazon, Biblio.com, and in our parish bookstore (open on Sundays).
- Low Mass Training Record, which can be downloaded here.
- High Mass Training Record, which can be downloaded here.