SINGAPORE – About 60 altar servers representing the 27 parishes in Singapore met Archbishop Nicholas Chia together for lunch for the first time at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd on Dec 18.

The lunch, hosted by the archbishop at Bishop’s House in the cathedral grounds, was organised by Father Gerard Weerakoon, assistant priest of Church of the Holy Spirit.

After the altar server representatives introduced themselves to the archbishop, Archbishop Chia encouraged the altar servers in their ministry and reminded them of the presence of Christ in the Mass, and asked them “to be attentive to the Word of God” and to be properly disposed to receive the Eucharist.

Archbishop Chia also encouraged the altar servers from various parishes to meet more regularly and learn from one another, especially sharing the Word of God at their meetings.

Three altar servers shared the story of how their experiences in this ministry helped them to be open to the call to the priesthood.

Kenneth, 16, from the Church of Our Lady of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary has come to realise that as an altar server, he should not leave the sanctuary while serving at Mass unless there is a good reason for doing so because “it poses a distraction to the congregation”.

Church of St. Francis Xavier altar server Sean initially found serving Mass to be “robotic”. He was unhappy when Father Gerard came to the parish in 2003. Father Gerard’s imposition of rules such as “Altar servers must wear black shoes only” and “Altar servers cannot wear jeans when serving Mass” were difficult to adapt to, he said.

However, the 19-year-old noted that the changes introduced led to a change in the altar servers’ society, adding that Father Gerard’s explanations of the various elements of the Mass has “helped me a lot”. “I now understand the meaning of the Mass and why we do things at Mass,” he shared with a nod of appreciation towards Father Gerard.

When asked what inspires him to train the altar servers, Father Gerard candidly replied, “It stems from my love of the liturgy. I thought it’s best that I share with them what I know by training them properly.”

By Daniel Tay, The Catholic News

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