Altar servers recognized for service

BOSTON -- Approximately 1,200 people -- altar servers from the Archdiocese of Boston and their families -- were present at an altar server appreciation Mass on Oct. 31 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Archdiocesan servers were recognized for their commitment to serving Christ and His Church at the altar, according to archdiocesan vocation director Father Dan Hennessey.

All servers were presented with a certificate of appreciation and a cross blessed by Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley during the Mass. Father Hennessey said he hopes the crosses will remind the servers and the parish communities of the appreciation Cardinal O’Malley has for them.

Following the Mass, servers and their families enjoyed ice cream sundaes, thanks to the generosity of dairy company H.P. Hood and members of the Serra Club, who served the ice cream.

Cardinal O’Malley also presented service awards to eight servers who display “exemplary character and service to God and His Church,” according to a statement released by the archdiocese prior to the Mass. Awards were also given to two junior and senior male and female altar servers.

Award winners were praised by their parishes for qualities like reverence, attention to detail, service to the wider parish community, and involvement in their schools and communities.

Eddie Newton, a senior at Arlington Catholic High School and a senior recipient of the Pope John Paul II Award, has been serving at the altar since he was in third grade, mostly serving the 8:00 a.m. Mass.

“I have no problem with it at all,” he said. “I’m a morning person.”

He also served at St. Margaret’s Parish in Lowell for four years.

In nominating Newton, his parish mentioned a community service project Newton initiated, making hats for residents of the Pine Street Inn with his cousin and his grandfather, a tailor.

“It’s a way to bond with my grandfather and my cousin,” Newton said. “They’re not relatively hard. They’re fairly easy to make.”

William Haughey, another senior award recipient, serves the 9:30 a.m. Mass, as well as special feasts and celebrations, at St. Columbkille Parish in Brighton. Pastor Msgr. William Fay, spoke of Haughey’s attentiveness at the altar and a recent community service project.

According to Msgr. Fay, Haughey and a friend helped the elderly and the infirmed with various home projects. Advertising in the church bulletin for over one year, they called themselves the Brighton Boys.

“He’s really first class, who’s around when we need a little bit of help,” said Msgr. Fay.

Haughey is a freshman at Trinity High School in Newton.

Ryan Wallace, a junior recipient, is an eighth grader at St. Francis of Assisi School in Braintree and a parishioner at the parish.

“He’s attentive, reverent, intelligent, and presents himself well,” said Father Darin Colarusso, parochial vicar at St. Francis and coordinator of altar servers there. “He knows what needs to be done and can also improvise based on the needs.”

Wallace said he started serving as soon as he was eligible, in the fourth grade.

“I always saw the altar servers up there and I wanted to take part in the worship of God more than just attending Mass,” Wallace said. “Altar serving is a great way to do that.”

Wallace is an active member of the school’s drama club and a member of the National Junior High School Honor Society. He also does gymnastics and plays golf.

This year, he collected money for UNICEF on Halloween. Proceeds from his fundraising, amounting to $75, are going to provide food and shelter for homeless children in urban areas.

“Instead of trick or treating for candy, I asked for donations,” said Wallace, who did not dress in costume. “That money went to help kids in the U.S.”

In nominating Noel Reed of St. Michael Parish in Avon for a Pope John Paul II award, Father Louis Palmieri cited the server’s faith during a battle with serious illness that began when he was four years old.

“The illness obviously gave him a maturity beyond his age,” Father Palmieri said. “Because of this experience, I think he found God at the time, even at a young age. He could rely on God and pray to God.”

“He also understands the value of suffering,” Father Palmieri continued. “He understands a person is still a person, even in the pain of suffering.”

He is a seventh grader in the Avon public school system.

The Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta Award winners, female altar servers, also had a record of parish and community service.

Catherine Campagna, a senior at Waltham High School, has been serving at Sacred Heart Parish in Waltham for about six years. She teaches first grade CCD at Sacred Heart as well.

“I’d walk into her classroom and I can tell the hours she spent planning her lessons and presenting them to the kids,” said Bernadette Scalese, director of faith formation at Sacred Heart.

Next year, she plans to pursue studies in the pharmaceutical field.

Sarah Hennessey, of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Acton, has served for over seven years. She is active in a number of activities in the parish, including music ministry and teen leadership. She has recently participated in a Music Alive conference. Her parish praised her love and respect for God and neighbor and for being a role model.

Michelle Beazley, of Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta Parish in Dorchester, serves the 4:00 p.m. Saturday Mass there. She is a fifth grader in the Dorchester public schools.

“She’s always there a half hour early setting everything up,” said Father Jack Ahern, pastor of Blessed Mother Theresa Parish, Holy Family Parish, and St. Peter Parish, all in Dorchester. “She’s a young kid who has a good sense about herself and what she can do for the parish. She’s the first one there and the last one to leave.”

In her nomination statement, the parish also mentioned her welcoming a newly-ordained priest and showing him around the sacristy.

Alejandra Tejeda serves the 11:00 a.m. Mass at Holy Family.

“She’s always willing to go above and beyond what is needed of her,” said Danny Guerrios, the coordinator of altar servers at the parish. “She’s a very curious person, wanting to know why things are done. I have not seen someone like her in awhile. I don’t have to look up to see what she’s doing. She doesn’t even need direction.”

She also helps teach CCD classes with her mother.

Tejeda is a seventh grader at Boston Latin Academy.

“The Altar Server Appreciation Mass is a wonderful opportunity for the archdiocese to recognize and thank the many young men and women who dedicate themselves by serving at God’s Holy Altar. The Eucharist is the center of our lives as Catholics and to see so many young people interested in making the celebration of the Eucharist reverent and beautiful is truly inspiring,” said Father Hennessey. “During this Year for Priests, we hope it will also be an opportunity for the altar boys to consider if God may be calling them to be priests.”