We have girl altar servers at our parish of Our Lady of the Rosary. They do a good job. I think there are some good arguments for boys only, but when I came as pastor there were girl altar servers and I sure as heck wasn’t going to fire them.
Here’s what we do at our parish–which may answer some of the problems traddies have with girl altar servers and address some of the current issues.
First of all we don’t have unisex robes. The boys wear cassocks and surplices. The girls wear white cassock albs. Why is this? Because boys and girls should dress differently. They’re not the same and so different robes help them identify with each other and boosts their proper gender development.
Second: the boys and girls serve at different Masses. We have two masses a week–a vigil and a Sunday morning. Girls serve the vigil one week and boys Sunday morning. The next week vice versa. This helps to avoid the problem of the boys leaving because serving is ‘girly’. The boys serve with boys and the girls with girls. The kids seem to like this too, and we’ve had no complaints.
Third: there’s a dress code. Boys and girls must wear black shoes–boys dress shoes and girls flat black slip ons. Girls have their hair tied back. Nothing should draw attention to itself for either boys or girls. Wacky haircuts, tattoos, nail polish or jewelry are out. That goes for the priest too…
Fourth: we train the altar servers carefully. Everything they do contributes to the beauty and solemnity of the liturgy. They therefore take pride in being servers.
Fifth: they are there at least fifteen minutes before Mass to help set up . They assist deacon before and after Mass.
Finally, their service is given symbolic and spiritual significance. I explain the invisible side of serving and what symbolic role they play in the Mass. Here is what I say to my altar servers. You can borrow it if you like. Here another parish priest explains why he’s switched over to all boy servers.
For a bit of fun you can go here if you want to read what Caitlin O’Rourke thinks of girl altar servers. Remember–she’s biased.