Holy Name Parish in Denver changed its altar serving policy about six months ago. Now, altar serving is reserved for boys.
But Holy Name’s pastor, Father Daniel Cardo, has established a new sacristan program for girls in the parish. The “Sacristans of Little Therese of Lisieux” have a schedule and responsibility, similar to the altar boys. Members prepare materials before and after Mass.
“I think for the most part it’s working very well,” Fr. Cardo told CNA. “They love it and they have great pride in their work… Sometimes even more than the boys being altar servers! You see now two very distinct groups.”
Fr. Cardo said the new sacristan group accentuates the young girls’ “feminine genius” – in the words of St. John Paul II – by showcasing their sense of reverence and attentiveness to detail.
The sacristans and altar servers also challenge each other to excellence in their different roles at Holy Name.
“In that way, the girls have a necessary place…and the boys have another necessary part which helps to promote vocations.”
Fr. Cardo believes the arrangement considers what is best for both the boys and the girls in his parish. He said most parents want their children to be involved in Mass so that they are less distracted.
Both altar serving and the sacristan program keep boys and girls involved in Mass in ways that respect their masculinity and femininity, he explained.
“It’s not just about what’s right or wrong. It’s about what’s best,” he said. “And this could be better, among other things, because it helps promote in an adequate and personalized way, vocations for girls and boys.”
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