Saturday, August 14, 2010

Altar Girls?

Sermon given by Rev. Peter R. Pilsner on the
Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 24, 1994

Excerpt:"My reason for being sad or dismayed at this change is that I am going to miss being a spiritual father to my altar boys. I will miss that joyful experience of trying to pass on to them something of myself, my love for the mass, and especially my priesthood. As I said, I have great respect for the girls. But boys and girls are different. And just as there is a special kind of relationship that a father can have only with a son, there is a special kind of spiritual fatherhood that I can exercise, not with girls, nor with a mixed group, but only with a group of boys. It seems that this will be taken away from me now, and it does make me sad.

"Oh, Father," some of you may say, "why do you say such things? You will still have altar boys. The only change is that now you will have girls too." The reason I say it is that, at the risk of making a self-fulfilling prophesy, I am afraid that if the American bishops mandate that girls must serve together with boys, we may not have many altar boys left. As I said before, girls tend to be more ready and willing than boys to step forward and participate in religious activities. I am sure that if we open serving at the altar to girls, many of them will volunteer, and they will do so with the most noble motives -- their love for God and their heartfelt desire to serve Him. However, since serving will then no longer be something for boys only, it will lose its attraction for the boys, and they simply won't want to do it anymore. This is not idle speculation on my part. In parish after parish it has happened that when the altar girls come, the altar boys go. If you have been reading the papers or listening to the radio, you may have heard about a parish in Manhattan that introduced altar girls twelve years ago. The media reported with glee that now girls outnumber boys. A week ago Friday, I spoke to a priest who was assigned to a parish with both male and female altar servers. When he arrived, there were three boys and fifteen girls. Then the parish went back to a policy of altar boys only. Now this priest has fifty altar boys. I hope that with the addition of girls we won't lose our altar boys, and I and a number of other priests have signed a petition to the Cardinal asking him to look into ways to prevent this from happening, but I am very much afraid that it will happen all the same."


Rachel Gray said...

Especially interesting in view of your recent post, "The Truth about Men and Church".

St. Stephen's in Sacramento has about 900 parishioners of which 90 are altar boys. "That has to be some kind of record," remarked one of the priests. It's an FSSP parish with the traditional Latin Mass, so the boys have to know a lot of lines in Latin- and they do. They have a altar guild with ranks and medals and dodgeball games.

My own parish is novus ordo, but the pastor has altar boys only, and it's great.

Just another mad Catholic said...

I was learning to serve the EF (Low Mass) at a training conference last week and as a consequece was wearing a Cassock for most of the week; I can now understand why so many Priests seem to start of as Altar Boys

Ray from MN said...

One of the reasons that the EF Mass is popular with boys is that you have important things to do.

In the Novus Ordo Mass, you process in, you sit down, and then you pretty much go back out.

In the EF Mass, you set up the altar, you light the candles, you carry the missal from side to side, you ring the bells, you respond to the prayers of the priest in Latin (something that not everybody can do), you genuflect and bow with the priest, etc.

Just another mad Catholic said...

I can't agree more Ray, I was trusted by the MC at the conferance to be the Bishops Book bearer at the Pontifical High Mass and to serve as Accolyte at two Misa Solemnis.

Ray from MN said...


That would be a really big deal, serving for a Bishop. I never did that as a child.

But the Christmas and Easter Triduum (we didn't call it that back then, it just was "Holy Week") Masses were wonderful to serve. Especially the long Masses on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday. Lots of stuff to do. And maybe a dozen servers on the altar.

nazareth priest said...

Jack: saw you in the photos from Joseph Shaw's "flickr" series!
Spot on!
I may be "rurally posited(challenged?)"; but thanks be to the Internet, I know what goes on!

Just another mad Catholic said...


My Sunday FSSP priest was so impressed that he says that I can serve Low Mass in a couple of weeks.

Ray from MN said...


Congratulations, guy!!!:

Quick, don't look it up! What's the response to:

"Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini."

Vincenzo: How come I have to keep identifying myself when I want to make a comment here?

Vincenzo said...

"Vincenzo: How come I have to keep identifying myself when I want to make a comment here?"

If you mean that you have to log in to Blogger? No one else has mentioned encountering that problem. Sounds like a Blogger or browser issue I have no control over.