Archbishop Nienstedt with zillions of altar boys at the famous St. Agnes Church (St. Paul, USA)

His Excellency Most Reverend John Nienstedt, the Coadjutor Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis was recently at the great St. Agnes Church for the celebration of their patronal day, Sunday 20 January 2008.

His Excellency had a photo with the altar boys (NB: not "servers"):

Lots of them.

Also, His Excellency took time to show a young man  his pectoral Cross, which it seems is also a reliquary.

Just a nice moment.

Who knows what impact that might have on this kid in years to come.

 

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32 Responses to Archbishop Nienstedt with zillions of altar boys at the famous St. Agnes Church (St. Paul, USA)

  1. Peter Nelson says:

    One unexpected highlight of the mass was when His Excellency blessed us with a relic of St. Agnes.

  2. Tim Ferguson says:

    and so the successor of Bishop Schladweiler returns to St. Agnes. Something wonderfully cyclical about that.

  3. TNCath says:

    If it weren’t so cold up there, I think I’d up and move to St. Paul. What a refreshing event: a bishop actually having a positive impact on a group of young boys, many of whom might just have a vocation! Haven’t heard of anything like that here in Tennessee since the days of Bishop William L. Adrian.

  4. joe says:

    Amen and bravo!

    And just think of what impact that KID might have in years to come…

    -J.

  5. Hettie B. says:

    What lovely photos! It looks like that community is raising up more than its share of future priests! They seem to be in the care of a very good shepherd. God bless His Excellency!

  6. Chironomo says:

    And so one has to pose the question to Bishops, Priests and faithful everywhere… what is supposedly so difficult about this? And what is so objectionable? Are we so cynical that we believe that our young men, and women, can no longer be inspired by our faith? I was asked just this week, when talking about Sacred Music, Chant and the traditions of our Church: “So what are we going to do for our young people then?”… as though the great traditions of our church were no longer relevant to them. The problem isn’t that they reject our traditions, the problem is that we have ceased teaching them our traditions. This Bishop has apparently overcome that hurdle…

  7. Eric says:

    Does anyone know…did His Excellency celebrate the Mass…in Latin? Sung? Ad Orientam as is the custom at St. Agnes? That would be a great sign! Those are truly great pictures!

  8. Allan says:

    The church LIVES, despite the best efforts of her enemies to destroy her, both from within and from outside.

  9. Jonathan Bennett says:

    Wow, look at all of them!

    When I was a young Altar boy a priest showed me the beautiful chalice he recieved when he was ordained, and that awakened a strong desire within me to be a priest myself.

    Priests and bishops should never underestimate the impact they can have on the younger generations and how many vocations can be fostered this way.

    Even the Holy Father himself was inspired as a child to be a priest when Cardinal von Faulhaber visited his town. The vestments of the Cardinal and his bearing, authoritative and fatherly at once, left an impression on the future Pope Benedict XVI.

  10. Michael Garner says:

    Wow! It is very nice to see a Bishop wearing the pontifical pectoral cross with the relics of saints in it. Few may know but the vesting prayer that the Bishop uses when vesting with the pectoral cross supposes that it contains relics, “…hanc crucem sanctorum tuorum reliquiis refertam.” There were actually two types of pectoral crosses in the old days. One is the ordinary pectoral cross which is normally worn on a gold chain. The other cross which is the pontifical cross which is always suspended from a cord. The cord used to be gold for not just the Pope, but Cardinals and Patriarchs as well. For other prelates; “of green silk, entwined with gold for Archbishops, Bishops, Prelates nullius and Abbots General; of red silk, enwined with gold, for Protonotaries Apostolic di numero; of plain red silk for Protonotaries Apostolic supernumerary; and of purple silk for Protonotaries Apostolic ad instar. For Canons, the color is determined in each case by the indult of concession; generally it is black, entwined with gold. For the pontifical cross of simple mitred Abbots, the color of the cord is determined by the tradions of the Order.” This from the excellent work, “Costume of Prelates of the Catholic Church According to Roman Etiquette” by Nainfa. Thought this might be of interest to someone.

  11. Hung Doan says:

    Hello all. I liked Michael’s post above with its reference to Nainfa’s book. Happily, the book is available as a free PDF download. Here’s the link:

    http://www.archive.org/details/costumeofprelate00nainuoft

    According to the website, which is run by a consortium of Canadian Libraries, the book is out of copyright and no known renewal was made. We benefit. Hope the readers like this!

  12. David Andrew says:

    My guess is His Excellency celebrated the Mass according to the customary of St. Agnes Church. I know that they celebrate the Novus Ordo in Latin every Sunday, and I think (Fr. Z will know, obviously) they do have “provision” for a “moveable” altar. But, if this pic was taken immediately following the Mass, it doesn’t appear that there is a “moveable” altar anywhere in sight.

    In an unrelated comment, as I work for a large suburban parish in the Twin Cities, I can tell you that literally the day His Excellency’s name became public as coadjutor, several members of our pastoral staff began the wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over his appointment. They fear that he’ll be too authoritarian, that he won’t be “pastoral enough.” His Excellency hasn’t even taken office and has been run rough-shod by the local liberal press. I even had a parishioner recently tell me that he’s afraid that we’ll become “even more Catholic” when His Excellency takes office.

    His Excellency is not even in office yet and the AmChurch liberals are heading for the tall grass. Meanwhile, he is celebrating the “source and summit of our faith” at one of the most conservative parish churches in the archdiocese. Telling, very telling.

    I fear that there’s something sinful in my taking sport in this, but I find watching the liberals and their reactions fascinating, much like gawking at a fatal car crash . . . grotesque, but you can’t take your eyes off of it.

  13. Christopher Mandzok says:

    What a wonderful picture to see…all those possible future priests.

    At my former parish, the parish priests had over 180 altar boys – no girls, of course. The new parish priests, within months of taking over, brought in altar girls. The boys were neglected and left. It was sad.

  14. Shawn Shafer says:

    I do have to inquire as to the antipathy towards ‘server’. Is it solely to do with a usurpation of the term by those who promote female ‘servers’, or is it something else? It may also be helpful to know what the Latin or Italian equivalent is. Any help on that?

    My thought is that it is of course a good thing to foster vocations by promoting the service in the sanctuary by boys and young men. It is no less a good thing to train up adult men to serve likewise for many reasons; not least of which is so that well trained MCs, acolytes and other servers are present to act in humility, with grace and experience, as role models (with the priest) of devoted service to Our Lord.

    To refer to the lot of them as Altar boys, I think, diminishes the likelihood of involvement by anyone older than 12 or 13. And who wants to be called a boy, even then?

    The picture clearly shows a number of older boys and men, who are likely not instituted acolytes. Is it really appropriate to still call them Altar boys? Or can we in dignity call them servers without fear of its misappropriation? After all, what do servers do? Serve, hopefully.

    All who enter the sanctuary act as servants of the Altar and of the God we worship and adore. To call them servers is the highest praise as it rightly identifies their calling and purpose in that role – as opposed to being just a boy.

    If the initial reference was tongue in cheek, I apologize for this brief comment – I clearly didn’t get it.

  15. Eric says:

    David,

    I teach theology at a Twin Cities school and I also heard much the same reaction as you did at your parish both in the religion department and out. I can’t wait until he does officially take over.

  16. Deborah says:

    How wonderful to see such a large group of altar boys!

    Allowing girls to serve at the altar was/is a BIG, big mistake. Put most girls in a group of boys and she will take over before you can blink an eye. If she is not taking over she will be flirting with the boys and it gets worse when there’s a group of them.

    I have witnessed this with one of my sons ended up refusing to serve with “the girls” after being bossed around and told how cute he looked.

    A short while ago a priest friend called for advice because he was concerned the altar boys at his parish kept quitting, now there are mostly girls serving, and he’s having a hard time recruiting altar boys. Coincidence? No.

    Dear priests if you wish to encourage priestly vocations please only permit altar boys no girls.

  17. Jennifer W. says:

    Hello everyone. My family and I attended the Mass at St. Agnes and were present when this beautiful photograph was taken. Yes, the Mass (Charles Gounod, Saint Cecilia Mass) was celebrated by His Excellency who sang (lovely voice) the accentus in Latin ad orientam. The Homily given spoke of the purity of Saint Agnes and urged all, especially young people, to cherish and preserve this precious gift of purity. Jennifer

  18. UPDATE: I just received this, a note from the spokesman for the Archdiocese:

    This is to ask for your prayers for Archbishop Nienstedt’s 88-year-old mother, Betty who severely injured her head yesterday after falling at a medical emergency room where the staff left her unsupervised. An MRI determined that she has bleeding and swelling in the brain and that surgery, even if she survived it, would leave her in a virtual vegetative state. Archbishop Nienstedt is now enroute to his family home near Detroit to be with his mother, who is on life support and with his brothers and sisters. This is particularly painful for him because, as you likely know, he very recently lost his father, Jack. The Archbishop welcomes your prayers for his mother and for his entire family.

  19. Matt Q says:

    TNCath wrote:

    “If it weren’t so cold up there, I think I’d up and move to St. Paul. What a refreshing event: a bishop actually having a positive impact on a group of young boys, many of whom might just have a vocation! Haven’t heard of anything like that here in Tennessee since the days of Bishop William L. Adrian.”

    ()

    Bishop Michael Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, is doing a great job implementing Summorum Pontificum. He’s young, I hear he’s very accessible to the Faithful and Authentic. I think I’d like Raleigh. Lincoln, Nebraska, sounds good also, but like you said, the cold!!

  20. Henry Edwards says:

    David: I think (Fr. Z will know, obviously) they do have “provision” for a “moveable” altar.

    I believe I recall Father Z saying that St. Agnes has never installed an altar table in front of the old high altar, where they have always continue to celebrate Mass.

  21. Matt Q says:

    Father Z wrote:

    “UPDATE: I just received this, a note from the spokesman for the Archdiocese:

    This is to ask for your prayers for Archbishop Nienstedt’s 88-year-old mother, Betty who severely injured her head yesterday after falling at a medical emergency room where the staff left her unsupervised. An MRI determined that she has bleeding and swelling in the brain and that surgery, even if she survived it, would leave her in a virtual vegetative state. Archbishop Nienstedt is now enroute to his family home near Detroit to be with his mother, who is on life support and with his brothers and sisters. This is particularly painful for him because, as you likely know, he very recently lost his father, Jack. The Archbishop welcomes your prayers for his mother and for his entire family.”

    ()

    Amen Amen. We certainly will pray for him, Father Z.

    BTW, just a curious mention. The Anti-spam phrase for this post is “Pray for our bishops.” I think that’s cool.

  22. Dennis DeVito says:

    It’s great to see all the altar boys , here in my parish one is hard pressed to find a male server . We have about 40 servers 3 are boys the rest girls.

  23. david andrew says:

    My emotions are so very mixed right now. . . reading of the untold beauty of the St. Cecilia Mass of Gounod being sung for the celebration followed by the crushing news of the illness of His Excellency’s mother.

    Life is full of bitter ironies.

    In response to Deborah’s post, the woman who teaches and coordinates the altar boys at St. Agnes told me that when she’s approached to do a training session of servers at other parishes, the first question she asks is if they have both boys and girls serving at the altar. If the answer is “yes”, she very charitably informs the inquirer that she will not do training sessions with mixed groups, as the presence of girl “servers” always spells problems for the program. It’s a doubly-powerful statement, coming from someone who by virtue of her gender will never be able to experience the very activity she so devotedly trains others to engage in!

  24. TJB says:

    Fr Z, could you provide a link to where you got these pictures, or were they sent to you directly? I couldn’t find them on the St Agnes website. I’d love to see them larger.

  25. trooper says:

    I’m really mad at myself for not knowing the His Excellency was going to be at St. Agnes, how does one access his schedule? Anyway, by way of blatant parish advertisement, St. Augustine’s parish in South St. Paul offers the TLM and has recently done away (thank you, Fr. Echert and thanks, of course, to the Holy Father) with their “people’s altar.” It’s all ad orientam with us! I am so excited about changes in this Diocese. We pray for his mom.

  26. Mary says:

    Our relatively small parish has more than 100 servers, all male. When the Arlington bishop made an ill-advised decision to allow girls to serve, our pastor politely but firmly declined to introduce female servers. But since nearly half the servers are high school age, and more than a few of them tower over all our priests, we usually prefer to call them “altar servers” rather than “altar boys.”

  27. Eric says:

    The following I heard directly from His Excellency:

    He is working to schedule a time to be present for the celebration of the TLM at St. Augustine’s in South Saint Paul sometime this spring. He is very comfortable celebrating the ordinary form in Latin but said he would need more training before he could offer the extraordinary form.

  28. David Andrew says:

    Trooper:

    I’ve already kicked myself for this as well.

    Just so you know, both Bishop Flynn and Coadjutor Bishop Nienstedt’s schedules are printed regularly in the “Catholic Spirit.”

    (I’ll save my rant about the rest of this “news” source of the archdiocese. I’d like to keep my good status with the blog.)

  29. Miranda says:

    Hey- That guy confirmed me in 2002! :) Yay Bishop Neinstedt!

  30. Julie says:

    +

    In fact, Archbishop did not celebrate but presided at the Saint Agnes Mass. He is a holy man, indeed -pray for him! You can access his schedule at the Catholic Spirit, which incidentally is becoming worth reading under his headship, at http://www.thecatholicspirit.com.

    Pax.

  31. mike says:

    The photo of the bishop and altar boys reminds me of my youth, and how priveleged we were to be serving Mass in the “Basilica of the Bronx” – St. Jerome’s. We had at least that many altar boys and seminarians home on vacation, or older guys attending Cathedral College. During Holy Week, one of the highlights was the procession of altar boys when the Sanctissimum was translated to a side altar (it took a half hour), as well as the Adoration of the Cross the next day. Because of changing demographics, and the fact that I had been stabbed in a hold up attempt by one of those new demographics (11 yrs.old, my family fled North. Our new church was one of those monstosities wherein the church was had a school built over it – no domes, no steeples.
    Youth is truly wasted on the young.

  32. dcs says:

    At home I have a picture of a May Procession from St. Adalbert Church (an Polish ethnic enclave here in Philly) with their 125-strong altar boy corps. Before the Council of course.