Young parishioners in the fourth to the twelfth grades serve at the altar for Sunday Masses and other liturgical rites, and occasionally at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
In no other area of life are young people given such important duties as they have in the sacred liturgy.
They are not in boardrooms, government offices, operating rooms, courts, in the military, or among our police and firefighters. But in the most important part of our lives, by far-the celebration of the Eucharist -they have always been in the sanctuary.
Pope Paul VI said to a gathering of servers, "How could a beautiful religious rite take place without you?" "By your innocence, your joyfulness, your willingness to love and to serve," he said, "you move the community to become united."
Our altar servers wear albs, the garment of the baptized, with cinctures in the colors of the seasons and feast days. Years of service are signified by the gold threads in the cinctures worn by seventh and eighth graders, while ninth graders and above wear cinctures in gold.
The Prefect of servers for particular Masses is an experienced server, who wears a cross to symbolize service to others.
"The vestments worn by altar servers are very special. They recall a garment that everyone puts on when he is welcomed, in Jesus Christ, into the community.... Baptism is the starting point of your 'authentic liturgical service,' which puts you beside your bishops, priests and deacons.... Therefore, in the liturgy you are far more than mere 'helpers of the parish priest.' Above all, you are servants of Jesus Christ, the eternal High Priest."
Blessed Pope John Paul II