Altar Servers

Serving the Church and our parish community, Altar Servers are young men and women, aged 10 through 18, who have made a commitment to assist the acolytes, deacons and priests during Mass, Benediction, Weddings, Funerals and other religious Rites, Liturgies and Ceremonies.

If you are interested in becoming an Altar Server, please contact Elaine Vollaro at (703)437-7113, or

Guidelines for Altar Servers

  1. Servers should be mature enough to understand their responsibilities and to carry them out well and with appropriate reverence.  They should have already received holy communion for the first time and normally receive the eucharist whenever they participate in the liturgy.
  2. Servers should receive proper formation.  The formation should include instruction on the Mass and its parts and their meaning, the various objects used in the liturgy (their names and use), and the various functions of the server during the Mass and other liturgical celebrations.  Servers should also receive appropriate guidance on maintaining proper decorum and attire when serving Mass and other functions.
  3. Since the role of server is integral to the normal celebration of the Mass, at least one server should assist the priest. On Sundays and other more important occasions, two or more servers should be employed to carry out the various functions normally entrusted to these ministers.
  4. Servers should normally be vested.  This is within the tradition of the Church and prevents difficulties regarding appropriate dress for these ministers.  All servers should wear the same liturgical vesture.  Note: At St. Thomas à Becket, our altar servers are vested in monastic albs (hooded).  The alb should completely cover any non-liturgical clothing and should be of a suitable length.  Dress shoes are required.  No athletic shoes are permitted.
  5. Servers carry the cross, hold the book for the priest celebrant when he is not at the altar, carry the incense and censer, present the bread, wine, and water to the priest during the preparation of the gifts or assist him when he receives the gifts from the people, wash the hands of the priest, and assist the priest celebrant and deacon as necessary.
  6. Servers respond to the prayers and dialogues of the priest along with the congregation.  They also join in singing the hymns and other chants of the liturgy.
  7. Servers should be seated in a place from which they can easily assist the priest celebrant and deacon.  The place next to the priest is normally reserved for the deacon. Note: Altar servers are seated adjacent to the sanctuary as members of the congregation of faithful and enter the sanctuary as necessary to fulfill their liturgical duties assisting the priest, deacon and other ministers as may be required.
  8. Servers may not distribute holy communion unless they have been mandated for this function by the bishop.
  9. The Order for the Blessing of Altar Servers, Sacristans, Musicians, and Ushers (Book of Blessings, nos. 1847-1870) may be used before servers first begin to function in this ministry.


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