Altar Servers Retreat a huge success
As part of the Year of Faith and acknowledging the huge benefit of having Altar Servers in our churches, a retreat day was recently held in St John’s Pastoral Centre for 47 boys and girls who serve in Tramore, Carbally, Dunhill and Fenor Churches.
The day, organised by Fr. Michael Toomey, (parish curate in Tramore) and Shane O’Neill (diocesan seminarian) and accompanied by the Altar Server Co-Ordinators Mary Manton, Bridget Lodge and Brendan Gallagher, consisted of many various activities including fun ice-breakers, good practice in serving, and getting to know the names of sacred vessels and the different parts of the Church.
A major part of the day was also given by our safeguarding teams, Ann Howard, Maeve McEvoyfrom Tramore parish, and Avril Halley, the diocesan co-ordinator, discussing current safeguarding procedures and practices in the parishes.
After lunch from McDonald’s – kindly brought in by Fr Paul Murphy, ADM Dunhill and Fenor) there were more fun activities. The day came to a close as all47 altar servers all took part in celebration of the Eucharist.
In his homily at the Mass, Fr. Michael reminded the boys and girls of the important role they have in the life of the church. He said:
“Our parish Altar Servers assist the priest at all weekend Masses and on special feast days. This ministry provides an opportunity for you, our young people, to serve God and their parish family. It allows them to play an important role in the Mass itself and by their example they enable others to pray and enter into the mystery of the celebration”.
Quoting the late Pope John Paul II in an address to Altar Servers in 2001, Fr. Michael reflected on his words, that: “…the altar server occupies a privileged place in the liturgical celebration. They who serve at Mass, presents themselves to a community. They experiences firsthand that Jesus Christ is present and active in every liturgical act. Jesus is present when the community comes together to pray and render praise to God. Jesus is present in the Word of sacred Scripture. Jesus is present above all in the Eucharist under the signs of bread and wine. He acts through the priest who, in the person of Christ, celebrates the holy Mass and administers the sacraments”.
Therefore, in the liturgy, you are much more than simple “helpers of the parish priest.” Above all, you are servers of Jesus Christ, of the eternal High Priest. Therefore, you altar servers, are called in particular to be young friends of Jesus. Be determined to go deeper and to cultivate this friendship with him. You will discover that in Jesus you have found a true friend for life”.
Fr. Michael also thanked the parents and coordinators. “A dedicated group of parents and coordinators alongside the priests of the parish recruit and train the teams of servers for each of the Masses and for other liturgical functions. We are also grateful for our safeguarding coordinators who are fully trained to assist in this ministry in our parishes”.
After the Mass, each participant was presented with a ‘Certificate of Participation’, acknowledging the important contribution these young people give to the life and future of the Church. There was a very happy and positive mood to the day by all the boys and girls, and it is hoped to extend the retreat day to other parishes across the Diocese during the Year of Faith.