Service tradition during church needs altaring

Illustration by Katherine Kurz Photo credit: Katherine Kurz

Attending a catholic school for most of my life definitely altered my definition of cool.

Free dress days were the best thing invented. Changing the sock rule so that you don’t have to wear them two inches above the ankle was a lifesaver. However the coolest thing ever was altar serving when we were in fourth grade.

We got to leave early to attend mass, go to the rooms in churches that most people didn’t see, carry large candles and ring bells on cue.

It was the coolest job any 9-year-old could have. Plus, it counted for all the service hours we needed to complete for school.

The altar schedule come out every three months. Everyone would be assigned to work one of five shifts.

But the thing I didn’t realize about altar serving that is apparently you are an altar server for life.

I would walk into mass on days I wasn’t assigned to serve and have a minister come running up to me swearing there kids who were supposed to serve that had never showed up and I needed to work— every single time. It didn’t matter which time I went to mass, I would be asked to serve.

It got to the point that I feared going to church because I hated altar serving. I asked to be taken off the list by the time I was in sixth grade, but when I would attend mass, I was still asked.

The moment I knew I was definitely done with altar serving was when I sat down with my family for my grandfather’s funeral, and the priest asked me to put my robe on to serve the mass.

I wanted to sit with my family and mourn my grandfather but I couldn’t even do that.

I eventually stopped going to mass altogether to protest altar serving. Through the years, I have realized I’m not the only one who has developed a bad relationship with the church because of this. My boyfriend’s little sister has had a similar experience.

At the end of the day, altar serving is a good idea and needs to be done. However when children are involved and the service is losing volunteers, something needs to be changed. I feel like the irresponsibility is driving kids away from church rather than becoming more active.

Brittany McClintock can be reached at opinioneditor! or @theorion_news @B_McClintock17 on Twitter.