Monday 12 September 2011

Running to Church

Father Ignatius was often encouraged at the level of participation in church activities by the parishioners at St Vincent. There was a daily babies and toddlers group for mothers and their young ones, a youth club for those aged twelve to sixteen met weekly in the hall, as well as the cub scouts, girl guides and other groups for the young ones in his congregation. Even the not so young met in the Senior Citizens Group and the Seniors Bridge Club. The Choir always attracted new members, Sunday Catechism classes were well attended and no end of boys volunteered as Altar servers during Mass.

He had worked hard over the years encouraging the many groups to be set up and run on a voluntary basis and attracting active participation. He prayed that it would remain always so.

Early one morning he was at his desk when he saw out of the window four young boys come running from the park opposite towards the church. He got up and made his way to church in time for morning Mass.

As he entered the Sacristy he heard the four boys shouting and arguing with each other.

“You’re a cheat …” screamed one of them, “I came first …”

“What is going on here?” asked Father Ignatius in his calm yet masterly voice.

“Henry is a cheat Father!” said a youngster, “we raced from the park and I came first. Peter was second. Joe and Henry came last.”

“No I didn’t …” shouted Henry. “I was first in the Sacristy …”

“All right … calm down now,” said Father Ignatius, “I saw you running from the park. It’s dangerous crossing the road like that. In future I want you to stop and use the proper crossing by the traffic lights. Is that understood?”

“Yes …” they said in unison.

“Now, what was all this running about?”

“We agreed that the first two to get to church will be the Altar servers today.”

The priest was silently impressed. To think that these eight year olds were rushing to church to serve at Mass. They were certainly a credit to their parents. To wake up early every day and compete to serve at the Altar denotes seeds planted in good fertile ground. There’s hope for the future.

“I’ll tell you what we’ll do …” said Father Ignatius, “any two of you who can recite the Lord’s Prayer will serve with me at Mass today ...”

“Easy …” interrupted Mark.

“In Latin …” continued the priest.

“That’s also easy …” said Peter, “Pater Noster …”

And to his pleasure and surprise all four recited the Lord’s Prayer in Latin word perfect. He tried them with the Hail Mary also in Latin and they performed admirably.

“All right … all right … you win” declared Father Ignatius, “I have decided that from now on we will have four Altar servers at daily Mass. Now go and get ready!”

As he left the Sacristy Father Ignatius heard one of the boys say: “When I’m a priest I will have one hundred Altar servers at Mass each day.”

Father Ignatius smiled and prayed to God that indeed it may be so.


  1. I like this, Victor!

    When we go to the homeschooling camp, ALL the appropriately aged boys serve as altar boys every Mass: two long lines, one each side of the altar. One of the older boys finds something for every boy to do. It's a wonderful sight.

    God bless!

  2. If I saw something like that, I'm pretty sure I would be in tears.

  3. Greetings Sue and Matt,

    Matt, when I was young I was one of those boys running to church to get to be an Altar server. And the priest did make us recite the Lord's Prayer in Latin. At the end he gave up and let us all serve at morning Mass. It was at 7:30am if I remember right; then we returned home for breakfast and off to school.

    Sue, I also remember two long lines of servers going to the Altar. On special occasions like midnight Mass at Easter and Christmas, and on First Communion or Confirmation days we managed as many as a dozen or so Altar servers. And then we used to fight as to who will ring the bell during Mass and who will carry the incense burner. The Head Altar server decided!

    God bless.

  4. Very sweet story! I was an altar server and I loved it! I hope my boys will be serving at Mass when they are of age, too! :)

  5. Hello Heather.

    Great to see you here. I hope and pray that your boys will one day be Altar servers.

    God bless you and your family.

  6. Kids are such a crack-up, don't you love them.. Blessings

  7. Great story, Victor! I didn't realize that it was based on a true story until I read your comment. Some parishes have difficulty finding altar servers around here, including my own parish. Latin is making a huge comeback. I was born post-Vatican II and never learned The Pater Noster (or anything in Latin) as a child. It's been much more difficult picking it up as an adult. Children learn more easily...they pick it up naturally. God bless!

  8. Hello Crystal Mary and Mary,

    Yes ... It is a true story. As children we used to fight as to who will be Altar server. How things have changed now that some parishes have difficulty getting servers.

    God bless you and your families.

  9. Victor, I loved this story even more when I read your comment that you were one of those boys!

  10. Hello Sarah,

    Yes ... the story brought back many happy memories.

    Thank you for writing in Sarah. God bless you and yours.

  11. Hello Colleen,

    Isn't it lovely to see such enthusiasm in young ones?

    Thanx for your visit Colleen; very much appreciated.

    God bless.

  12. My children's choir learned many hymns in Latin my heart, just as I did when I was young. This is a precious story. The enthusiasm of children is so inspiring.

  13. Hi Barbara,

    It's so nice to see young children going to church and serving at the Altar.

    God bless.



God bless you.