Today, members of the St Stephen’s Guild for Altar Servers gathered for their annual Mass in the Archdiocese of Cardiff at the parish Church of St Philip Evans. It was celebrated by Fr. Gareth Leyshon, the parish priest, assisted by 3 deacons, including the Director of the Guild in the Archdiocese, Deacon Eddie Wyman. The parish altar servers were in attendance – a mixture of girls and boys both young and older and including a female MC who teaches in a primary school.
I was reminded that there are some who argue that we should not have girls serving on the altar in our Catholic Churches. A variety of reasons are put forward including, ‘they scare away the boys’ and ‘girls cannot be priests and serving prepares the boys for this vocation’.
It is indeed true that only boys can become priests and serving at the altar certainly provides them with an insight to that vocation. However, probably only a small percentage of these boys actually become priests. On the other hand, the majority of girls will go on to become mothers. Even in a society where roles between the genders are being equalised, it is still women who spend most time with their children. As parents are the first teachers of their children and the first to pass on their faith, it is essential that mothers are equipped to undertake that most important mission and what better way than to have served the Church themselves ministering at Christ’s altar!