I was alerted to this article from The Arizona Republic with a note from a reader saying: “The coverage is predictably bad, but the facts are good.”
You may remember that I posted about Fr. Lankeit last January when he promoted Communion on the tongue. This guy gets it!
For your Brick by Brick file with my emphases and comments.
Phoenix diocese cathedral won’t allow girl altar servers [It could have said, "Cathedral gives affirmation to young men who serve" ]
Reverend: Altar duties part of priesthood prep
by Michael Clancy – Aug. 21, 2011 08:51 PM
The Arizona Republic
Girls no longer will be allowed as altar servers during Mass at the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, SS. Simon and Jude.
The Rev. John Lankeit, rector of the cathedral, said he made the decision in hopes of promoting the priesthood for males and other religious vocations, such as becoming a nun, for females.
Made up primarily of fifth- through eighth-graders the altar-server corps in American churches has included girls since 1983 in many places. [I suspect that the writer just took the date of the Code of Canon Law. But there were females serving, contrary to the law, before that.] Girls and boys regularly serve together at churches throughout the Phoenix Catholic Diocese.
Bishops and pastors always have had the option of restricting the role to boys, but only one diocese, Lincoln, Neb., and scattered parishes have done so. [Didn't Arlington also do that?] Before 1983, when church law was revised, girls were not allowed to serve. [Even after, until there was an interpretation... a bizarre interpretation I might add... from the Holy See on the point.]
At SS. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, the girls will be offered the role of sacristan, the person who prepares the church and the altar area before Mass.
Lankeit said 80 to 95 percent of priests served as altar boys, but he could not state the percentage of altar servers who go on to be priests. [How could he? Does the writer think this is Psychic Network?]
He made the decision on his own, he said, even though the cathedral is recognized as the home church of Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and is used for some important church events.
“He leaves these decisions to me,” Lankeit said.
SS. Simon and Jude is believed to be the first church in the diocese of Phoenix to ban girls from serving Mass, according to the diocese. [Note the language. It could have said "first to support and affirm service by boys".]
Altar servers have a direct role in the Catholic Eucharistic ceremony, [For pity's sake. Non-Catholics know what "Mass" is.] assisting the priest, and are the only lay people directly involved throughout the entire service. [?] Other lay people may serve as lectors or Eucharistic ministers, helping the priest distribute communion. [Perhaps the writer didn't have his coffee before he wrote this. Altar servers are the only lay people involved, except for the other lay people who are involved.]
“The connection between serving at the altar and priesthood is historic,” Lankeit said. “It is part of the differentiation between boys and girls, as Christ established the priesthood by choosing men. Serving at the altar is a specifically priestly act.”
There appears to be little if any research connecting altar service to a later decision to enter the priesthood [And, seemingly, the reporter didn't do any either!] – or connecting other types of service for girls to religious life as a nun. Anecdotally, the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., is one of the stronger dioceses in developing new priests. [Hmmmm....]
The Rev. Kieran Kleczewski, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas in Avondale and director of the diocese Office of Worship, does not expect other parishes following the cathedral’s policy just because it is the cathedral. [That's right! Pit one priest against another now.]
“That’s not the way things work in our diocese,” he said. “The pastor has the authority over the parish’s liturgical practices.” [And the bishop? The pastor as a lot of authority.]
Kleczewski allows girls to serve Mass and has no plans to change.
Lankeit said there had been little reaction to his decision so far, but it was unlikely to sit well with many Catholics, especially those who have daughters who wish to serve. ["Fair" describes the weather, not life.]
“It is a shame on how the church continues to abuse the females,” [PUHLEEZE] said Bob Lutz of Phoenix, a Catholic with three grown daughters. “Church attendance is shrinking now, and this adds more fuel to the fire on how females are treated as second-class citizens.” [he said, as he ordered his caramel-flavored chai whipped cream mocha frothie with sprinkles]
Carole Bartholomeuax of Phoenix, who attended St. Joan of Arc parish, said girls outnumbered boys as altar servers there.
“I believe Mary Magdalene set the example for women to be altar servers. [So! That's what Carole thinks. There it is, then.] I am so sorry to hear of this going backwards,” she said, adding that she still loves her church, “warts and all.” [She still finds reasons to love the Church even after this. Jesus is so lucky!]
But Michael Clancy, who heads the diocesan men’s group, said girls never were supposed to be allowed to serve, based on his understanding of the rules of the Mass. [Well... that statement could have been refined a little more too. Or did the reporter just run out of column inches?]
WDTPRS kudos to the rector of the Cathedral of Phoenix, Very Rev. John Lankeit.
If I get some donations today, I’ll send him a “Save The Liturgy Save The World” coffee mug. Or should I send the “Say The Black Do The Red”? Or “WDTPRS”?
Decisions! I’ll leave the poll open for a couple hours only.
Which coffee mug should Fr. Z send to the Rector of the Cathedral in Phoenix?
- Save The Liturgy Save The World (79%, 698 Votes)
- "To Be Deep In History" (8%, 66 Votes)
- Say The Black Do The Red (7%, 63 Votes)
- Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist (6%, 51 Votes)
- WDTPRS (0%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 879
UPDATE 1712 GMT:
Okaaaaay… that seems rather decisive.
Now… a few small donations…
UPDATE 21:46 GMT:
FIRST of all, please check out my ACTION ALERT!
Altar Serving at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral
PHOENIX (Aug. 22, 2011) — Experiencing personally the consequences of the priesthood shortage and noting the absence of strong fatherly presence in society in general, and religious practice in particular, Fr. John Lankeit, rector of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, recently restructured the program for boys and girls who serve at Mass. At the Cathedral, boys can train to serve at the altar, and girls can train to serve as sacristans.
The decision was made in order to encourage young men and women to honor their God-given differentiation and complementarity, and to discern more clearly how such differentiation points to specific vocations in the Church.
Boys’ service at the altar has roots in Church history prior to the creation of the modern seminary system where men are formed for priesthood. Before seminaries, serving at the altar was part of an apprenticeship for priesthood. Fr. Lankeit’s decision was made primarily in response to the shortage of priestly vocations, since serving at the altar points very clearly to the specific vocation of priesthood.
He cites examples where limiting altar service to boys in the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., and in Ann Arbor, Mich., has borne the fruit of many priestly vocations. The Diocese of Lincoln is considered a vocations “powerhouse.” In a single parish in Ann Arbor, in 2008, there were 22 new seminarians and five women in formation for religious life. The same parish is also home to 16 sisters in the Servants of God’s Love religious community.
The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, also based in Ann Arbor, are receiving so many inquiries from young women interested in entering the order that they cannot build facilities fast enough to accommodate the surge in vocations. Their order offers clear evidence that when the God-given differentiation between male and female is honored, both men’s and women’s vocations flourish.
The first girls to train in the Cathedral’s sacristan program are learning quickly, serving well and enjoying the important responsibility of sacristan. [And it is very important. No question.] The parish is coordinating with a contemplative women’s religious order to provide these young sacristans with a “come and see” event at their monastery and to learn from one of the sisters who served as the official sacristan of their mother house in Alabama.
Director of Communications