Youth altar servers of the archdiocese honored

SOUTH END -- Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley recognized eight altar servers for their exemplary character and service to the Church Oct. 4 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross at the annual Altar Servers Appreciation Mass, which was attended by more than 700 servers.

“Today we honor our altar servers for their devotion to Christ in the Eucharist. Their service helps others to pray and worship the Lord at Mass. We are very proud of them,” said Father Daniel F. Hennessey, the vocation director for the archdiocese.

The winners of the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta Service Award for girls who have shown exemplary service to their parish and their community by their imitation of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta are: Jessica Barbosa, St. Edith Stein Parish of Brockton; Helena Suarez, St. Patrick Parish of Roxbury; Melissa Bolen, Immaculate Conception Parish of Revere and Teresa Goggin, Immaculate Conception Parish of Stoughton.

The winners of the John Paul II Service Award for boys who have shown exemplary service to their parish and their community by their imitation of Pope John Paul II are: Michael Kemp, St. Benedict Parish of Somerville; Matthew Hanafin, St. Margaret Parish of Burlington; Aaron Swenson, Sacred Heart Parish of Waltham and Tyler Molisse, Our Lady of the Assumption Parish of Marshfield.

The recipients are young women and men of dedication and zeal in service to others, especially at the altar, said Father Hennessey.

“We look to our youth as the sign of hope for the future of the Church,” said the cardinal in his homily.

“The archdiocese is blessed that so many young people practice their faith and serve the Lord by assisting at the celebration of Mass,” he said.

“We pray that the experience of being an altar server will help all to have a better understanding of their vocation in life, and that the experience may help young women consider the possibility of religious life and help young men consider a call to religious life or a vocation to the priesthood,” he said.

Father Michael C. Harrington, who works with Father Hennessey in the Vocations Office, said the number of parishes participating in the annual Mass jumped to 70 from 40 last year, and the number of altar servers attending is up from 400 last year.

The largest contingent came from St. Bernadette Parish in Randolph, which brought 48 altar servers, he said.

After the Mass, all altar servers and their families were invited to an all-you-can-eat ice cream sundae buffet in the gymnasium of Cathedral High School across the street, he said.

While the altar servers and their families attended the ice cream party, members of both the diocesan and religious clergy, as well as seminarians, mingled and answered questions about vocations.

“It is really to help prepare the kids for future discernment. They won’t be making any decisions for another five to 10 years down the road,” Father Harrington said. “We are just trying to plant a seed.”