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Altar service should not differentiate on gender

March 6, 2015
Andrea Iida
San Francisco

Re “Role of boys and men at Mass,” letters, Feb. 27:

The writer makes various commentary and assumption about attending a church where predominately females attend the altar. She feels “uncomfortable” and “can’t imagine that boys really want to follow in the girls’ footsteps.” Why does she feel uncomfortable? Doesn’t the church need altar servers? Would she rather have father perform all services himself? And I would like to clarify that boys are not following anyone’s footsteps. In my day, when I was a child, the church couldn’t even count on the boys who were actually scheduled to serve. And it was mandatory that they serve back then. I remember sister screaming her lungs out – frequently – at boys in class who didn’t show up to serve. So perhaps this parishioner should lament the lack of commitment on the part of boys in this parish. As far as her comment about women doing “everything except actually say Mass” in this parish, well, that would nearly apply in my parish as well. But we all know the reasons for that. To her quoting a writer’s comment that “women don’t have to act like men in order to shine in the world,” my response is this: The role of altar server is not acting like a man. That position is and should be open to all faithful Catholics regardless of gender. When I saw altar girls only at my parish Mass yesterday, I saw children with a Catholic upbringing. When father applauded the Sisters of Carondelet, I saw people who had, as Father said, “given up having many things for themselves” in order to serve the people of God. I fail to see the necessity to differentiate when it comes to gender. 

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