A new sodality for servers of the Traditional, Extraordinary Form

A while back I called for those groups who do training for priests and seminarians for the older forms of the Roman Rite, the Extraordinary Use, also to provide more training for lay people who will be called upon to serve those liturgies.

The provision of Summorum Pontificum make it clear that all Latin Rite priests have the right to say Holy Mass also with the Extraordinary Form.  Most priests today did not grow up with that older, traditional form.  This means that they did not learn the older liturgy from the ground up, as it were.  They didn’t learn what to do as servers in different roles.  Therefore, when it is time to implement Summorum Pontificum in the parish, they have a gap of knowledge when it comes to training servers.  Inevitably there is a layman around – at least in my experience – who know the older form pretty well and can be of great help. 

But more resources are needed.

I was interested to find in my mailbox today a note from the Latin Mass Society in England and Wales.  Something for your "brick by brick" file.

For Immediate Release

19 May 2010


On Saturday 15th May 2010, at Blackfriars, Oxford, the Society of St Tarcisius, a sodality of servers of the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form), [I am reminded of the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen.] was founded during a training day for altar servers, arranged by the Latin Mass Society. Thirty servers were present, with the training being delivered by Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP, Br Lawrence Lew OP, Mr David Forster, and Mr Richard Hawker. The day began with an address from Fr de Malleray on the importance of the service of the altar. The servers were divided into two groups of the less and more experienced for training. Some people travelled long distances to attend – one as far as Preston, Lancashire. 

   The two groups each had an experienced MC and a cleric to guide them: the less experienced group was led by Fr de Malleray and David Forster; the more experienced group by Br Lawrence Lew and Mr Richard Hawker. The day was interspersed with prayers and ended with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

   The Society of St Tarcisius has been founded to encourage servers of the Traditional Mass in their work on the altar, to provide training for new servers and the more experienced, to promote a high standard of reverence and accuracy, and to form a network through which servers can stay in touch and share resources.

   The Society of St Tarcisius is sponsored by the Latin Mass Society, though membership is open to all who wish to serve the Traditional Mass. Saint Tarcisius was a Roman acolyte who was martyred while defending the Holy Eucharist from profanation during the fierce persecutions of the third century. The sodality has taken “Fidelis usque ad mortem” – Faithful even unto death – as its motto, and seeks to inculcate in servers an intense devotion and reverence for Our Lord in the Eucharist, as well as a precise attention to the ceremonies of the Mass.

   The society’s website is www.saint-tarcisius.org.uk. Servers wishing to join the sodality should contact the Secretary, Mr David Forster, at secretary@saint-tarcisius.org.uk.

   Photographs of the training event on Saturday 15th May can be seen at www.lmschairman.org/2010/05/server-master-class-report.html

   The Latin Mass Society and the Society of St Tarcisius will be holding a residential training course for lay servers at Downside Abbey, Somerset, from Tuesday 10 August to Friday 13 August. This will run alongside the LMS’s Downside training conference for priests to learn the Extraordinary Form. Full details are available from the LMS.

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  1. AnAmericanMother says:

    Always liked Fr. Lovasik’s Picture Book of Saints, so did my kids.

  2. Ringmistress says:

    How wonderful. My son is approaching first communion age and is looking forward to being able to serve in the years to come.

    As an aside, one of the Fr. Finn books reprinted by TAN, Claude Lightfoot, has St. Tarcisius and devotion to him as a central plot element. It would be worth reading for any boys preparing to approach the altar, either as servers or communicants.

  3. pjsandstrom says:

    One could hope that the promoters of this good work could find a better image/icon of Saint Tarcisius. This one is too fragile and feminine looking for ‘altar boys,’ especially considering the heroic Christian action — carrying the Eucharist to the sick in time of persecution — that for Saint Tarcisius is usually described as the motive of his being captured and martyred.

  4. Dr. Eric says:

    Don’t use the Ecclesiastic pronunciation of St. Tarcisius’ name around your kids. Mine heard “Tar-cheezy-est” and would not stop giggling for 20 minutes. Thus endeth the kids’ religion lesson for the day.

  5. Sixupman says:

    I recall very recently an altar boy being blessed into The Society (Sodality) of St. Stephen at St. Mary Magdalen, Glastonbury. Sodalities, of which there were quite a number, disappeared with the advent of Vatican II – one of the fruits thereof. Many clergy, to-day, would not even recognise the term ‘Sodality’.

  6. Marysann says:

    Let’s not forget the girls. We should bring back the Children of Mary Sodality, the establishment of which was requested by our Blessed Mother herself during her apparition to St. Catherine Laboure on July 18. 1830. St. Catherine conveyed our Blessed Mother’s words to her spiritual director by saying “Father, the Blessed Virgin would have you accept a special mission: it is her desire that you establish a new confraternity, the Confraternity of the Children of Mary, of which you will be the founder and director.” Father J.M. Aladel, C.M., St. Catherine’s spiritual director established the Association of the Children of Mary for young girls who wanted to honor our Blessed Mother by imitating her virtues, and by striving for their own personal sanctification and that of others. On June 20,1847 Pope Pius IX gave the Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity (St. Catherine Laboure’s community) the authority to establish this sodality, and endowed it with many blessings and indulgences. The sodality was established in many schools and parishes served by the Daughters of Charity, and was active up until the time of Vatican II when for some reason these types of organizations began to disappear. I am sure that the Daughters of Charity today would be happy to assist parishes or schools who want to start a group like this for their girls. It would give our girls the opportunity to grow in holiness and serve the parish. The Children of Mary Manual gives many helps to girls who want to imitate Our Blessed Mother, and the reception ceremony, conducted in church by a priest, is very beautiful. I am sure that many of our girls would be anxious to belong to an organization that was founded at the specific request of our Blessed Mother! How many groups can make that claim? We need more organizations like the Children of Mary and the Society of St. Tarcisius for Catholic youth today, but I think that it would be a mistake in the present political climate to start a new organization for boys and not one for girls.

  7. ndmom says:

    With regard to parish organizations for girls, Fr. James Searby in the Arlington Diocese began a group called “Fiat” for girls, focused on Eucharistic adoration. http://www.epriest.com/best_practices/view/48

  8. AnAmericanMother says:

    Dr. Eric,

    Tar-SISSY-us isn’t any better. Kids will make fun of ANYTHING.


    Not very many images of St. Tarcisius around.

    It looks like Fr. Lovasik derived his painting from a fairly well known 19th c. French sculpture in the D’Orsay – St. Tarcisius by Falguière

    Here is a less romanticised depiction – but on the other hand he looks like a modern kid, which is different but probably no more accurate. Plenty of Roman funerary portrait busts around to get an idea of the type.

  9. catholicmidwest says:

    Kind of a creepy picture, probably from an entirely different era.

    RE altar girls. I think that one of the reasons girls want to be altar boys is that there it nothing for girls to belong to. It looks like the only activity. (That and often girls have at least one crazy relative who foists her opinion re liberation covertly on the girl–ie reliving life through the kid. I rather doubt that most girls would want to replace boys in a boy activity if there were a girl activity more suited to them.)

  10. AnAmericanMother says:

    Unless you’ve got a tomboy who despises “girly girls” . . .

    The deacon who runs our altar server program has worked very hard to make it attractive to the boys. It’s run along military lines, with drill, rank, and promotions, and very strict discipline. That scares off most of the girls — but my daughter loved it. Of course, because she’s not girly, she worked hard to blend in, didn’t put herself forward, and deferred to the guys. When she had her hair up you couldn’t tell there was a girl serving.

    There wasn’t really a good girl program when she was coming along, but the parish has introduced a couple of programs for girls – getting them involved in the flower guild and so forth. But I don’t think she would have gone for that.

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