Acolytes instituted into ministry of service at the table of the Lord
By Sr Mary Louise Walsh ISSM
|Photo: Alfred Boudib.|
On the evening of 23 June 2015, 53 acolytes were instituted by Emeritus Bishop Kevin Manning during the celebration of Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta.
They were joined by family and friends who supported them. Many of their respective parish priests were also present. To mark their readiness for their ministry, as each candidate’s name was called, they rose and acknowledged their presence.
After the homily given by the Diocesan Administrator, Very Rev Peter Williams, each of the candidates was handed the paten with the bread to be consecrated.
They held the paten while the Bishop prayed: “Take these vessels with bread and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of His Church.”
As with other liturgical ministries, the acolyte has a specific role, that is, to assist the priest or deacon in the service of the altar.
We read in Sacrosanctum Concilium: "Those who serve at the altar exercise a genuine liturgical function. They ought to discharge their office therefore, with the sincere devotion and decorum demanded by so exalted a ministry and rightly expected of them by God's people.
“Consequently, they must all be deeply imbued with the spirit of the liturgy, in the measure proper to each one, and they must be trained to perform their functions in a correct and orderly manner." (Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 29)
Accordingly, acolytes undergo specific training and formation. They should familiarise themselves “with everything which pertains to divine worship and should endeavour to understand its spirit and its inner meaning." (Pope Paul VI, Ministeria Quaedam, 15 August 1972, #6)
The acolyte has a particular role in preparing the altar and the sacred vessels. Once instituted, the acolyte may serve within the diocese in agreement with the parish priest.
During the period of training, the acolytes may be assigned a mentor from their parish, who accompanies them on their journey of spiritual formation.
Sr Mary Louise Walsh ISSM is Liturgy Educator in the Diocese of Parramatta’s Office for Worship.
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