More than 100 servers from 54 parishes attend
By Nathan Rumohr
For the seventh consecutive year, altar servers from parishes across the Archdiocese of Vancouver gathered at Holy Rosary Cathedral and were rewarded for their service to the Church by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB.
"It is certainly encouraging for me, and inspiring, to see you, because for the whole archdiocese you are signs of inspiration and encouragement to us who are older, and you are a hope for the Church," Archbishop Miller told the award recipients during his homily. "We are honouring you because you are the good fruit."
He thanked the altar servers for their commitment to the altar. He said serving at the altar is not only a duty or a service but also a great honour.
"I know, often, serving at Mass can be inconvenient," he said. "You have to give up a lot of things. You give up those things to be faithful servants of the Lord."
But the archbishop said that altar serving wasn't just about obedience and assisting fellow parishioners. He noted it was also a privilege, as altar servers are closer to the Lord than anyone else at Mass besides the priest.
This year's awards were given to 108 recipients from 54 parishes. They received medals from the archbishop, which were blessed, and a book of lives of the saints. After the Mass there was a reception in Rosary Hall.
Archbishop Miller thanked the parents and family members in attendance. He said the parents' patience and willingness to support their children had not only resulted in their children receiving an award, but also had allowed them to serve their local parish.
"Thank you for carrying out this awesome responsibility entrusted to you to lead your children to God," Archbishop Miller said.
The archbishop noted that some vocations begin with altar service. "I bet and I am even sure that the Lord is calling some of the boys to serve as priests, some of the girls to serve Him as religious sisters, and most of you He's calling to the married life."
The Serra Clubs of Vancouver and Fraser Valley West sponsored the awards. The lay organizations encourage vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.
Ted Chibber, president of Serra Club Vancouver, said the club focuses on the altar servers because many of today's priests were drawn to their vocation as altar servers in their youth.
"Father Joseph Nguyen, our chaplain, went to all our parish priests and asked them how their vocation came about," Chibber noted. "Eighty per cent of them said it was because they were altar servers, or a combination of being an altar server and having their pastor ask them to consider a vocation."
However, according to Chibber, the survey also revealed only 30 per cent of those priests actively foster vocations with their altar servers today.
"The survey was a revelation," Chibber said. "So the awards zero in on the necessity to keep alive the fact (altar serving) is an important part of our liturgy, and hopefully a step towards a vocation."