From Rachel Campos-Duffy comes this re: altar boys.
According to the Communications Office of the Diocese of Phoenix, there is growing evidence to support the claim that where altar service is limited to boys, priestly vocations increase. The best example is the Diocese of Lincoln Nebraska, the envy of all dioceses when it comes to vocations. [It isn't rocket science.]
Why? Because serving at the altar was always considered an apprenticeship for the priesthood. Prior to the modern seminary, it was the primary means by which boys discerned their interest and calling to become priests. [Of course.]
For starters, there’s the surprising fact that the participation of boys in altar service programs decreases with the inclusion of girls; likewise it increases when it is boys-only. [Surprising to whom? Oh, I get it. She's being ironical.]
My 10 year-old son is an altar server in a boys-only program he loves and I can attest that the inclusion of his 8 year old sister would, well, annoy him. He’s not a sexist. He’s a typical 10 year-old boy and that is the age that boys begin considering altar service. Our priest is a role model to our son and it’s common sense if the Church wants the experience to feel like a priest-in-training experience, then it ought to be limited to boys. [Of course.]
Despite the positive effects male-only altar service has on participation and more importantly on vocations to the priesthood, many priests are reluctant to implement the policy in this hyper-sensitive, war-on-women era. But changing the policy doesn’t necessarily have to be contentious or cause hurt feelings for girls who desire to serve the Church in its most central sacrament. [You are an optimist, it seems.] One way to ease the pain that comes with any liturgical change is by implementing a sacristan program for girls. [While I agree, in most places there will still be a ruckus.]
There is a long-standing Catholic tradition of nuns and women serving as sacristans. Now girls can follow in this tradition and experience and learn more about the Mass and this awesome responsibility. In many cases, these programs are designed and run by religious sisters. Not surprisingly, parishes that offer a sacristan program for girls report increases in religious vocations for women.
It’s just so obvious.
At the same time, I would love to see stats.
WDTPRS kudos to Rachel.