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What should girl altar servers wear?

I have mentioned several times that I am not happy to now have girls as altar servers in the Arlington Diocese. I do not think it added any benefit and I do think it has the potential for harm. However, since they are here, I will make the best of it. Our parish is one of several in the diocese that has decided to not expand the altar server corps to include girls. Of course with one hundred altar servers there really isn’t a need to expand the group.

This evening we went to Sunday evening Mass at St. Bernadette’s in Springfield. This is a fairly orthodox parish so I was a little surprised to see three girl altar servers of about 14 years of age as well as two little boys about 10 years old. All five servers were dressed in albs. (Bishop Loverde appropriately specified that girls would not wear the cassock and surplice) I could tell the boys were both in dress slacks and dress shoes. One of the girls was teetering on white high-heeled sandals. One girl was wearing frayed jeans and flip-flops. One girl had flat casual sandals.

My question is, “What should girl altar servers wear?” The girl teetering on high-heels was also the cross-bearer so we all held our breath as the crucifix swayed from side to side. I know it is hard to find sensible shoes that girls will wear but I definitely think sneakers or flip-flops are out of bounds. Frayed jeans are also unacceptable. So those of you with more experience with girl altar servers, what are your guidelines? Should they forgo dresses and wear dress slacks and flat shoes like loafers? Our male altar servers are required to wear dark dress slacks and black dress shoes. No athletic shoes or sandals.

I am interested in what has worked in your parish.


Julie D. said…
Our altar servers all wear their white robes and all wear white slip on Keds-type shoes. They are supplied from a large closet. It is surprising how little one notices their shoes when they are all dressed the same and one has one's mind on what it should be on ... which would be the Mass itself. :-)
Catholic Mom said…
Oh, I agree. One's mind should be on Mass itself. It is just very helpful if the altar servers dress in a way to minimize distraction and to reflect the dignity of their role. I like the idea of standardized shoes supplied by the parish. I wonder if it is hard to keep an adequate range of sizes.
Julie D. said…
I suppose it also helps that there is a specified altar server age range from fifth grade to eighth grade.

All I know is that they have one heckuva lot of shoes and robes in that big wardrobe!
Barb, sfo said…
I WISH there would be some guidelines. In our former and current parishes, there appear to be none. So although we have Big Brother wear his standard Church Clothes (golf shirt, khakis, school shoes) normally we see frayed jeans and dirty sneakers coming out from most of the servers' robes. And there was the one boy, who wore a T-shirt with VERY large letters on the back, that showed through the robe: "Screw the Rules." That went over big.

And yes, girls teetering on their high heels is a problem.

I'd love to see them ALL wear dark pants and school shoes. No sneakers.
Mio said…
The Arlington Diocese's policy already covers some of the ground you've suggested:

"Altar servers must also receive appropriate instruction on maintaining proper
decorum when serving Mass and at other liturgical functions, and on proper attire.
In particular, servers must be instructed to exercise good judgment with regard to
clothing that may be visible outside of their vesture, so as to avoid items
(including but not limited to ostentatious or excessive jewelry, bright colors,
glitter or spangles, athletic or other inappropriate footwear, etc.) that might be
distracting to the faithful or otherwise detract from the dignity of the celebration
of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Makeup and hair color, if any, must be
minimal and present a natural and wholesome appearance. Any tattoos or
piercings (other than ears) should be discouraged and, if present, must be covered
to the greatest extent practicable.
Heather said…
I am at a loss to understand why you and other commentors here are so apoplectic about young women wearing High Heels as servers, its very natural and normal for young girls to wear them.
It seems to me that you are being very judgemenal, where is it stated in Catholic Cannon Law that explicity forbids woman from wearing High Heels?
To be critical of this is simply an assualt on feminine dignity and wmomanhood, I suggest that time would be put on reflection of one's own sins and contrition for those sins rather than being judgemenal of those woman wearing High Heels.
Isn't it written in scripture to worry about the speck in one's own eye rather than judging the speck in someone elses?
As for flip flops/sneakers on that we may agree.
Lets not be acting so much like the Pharisees and Saducees
Catholic Mom said…

I don't think there is any problem with women wearing high heels. There is a problem when middle school age girls who have not yet mastered the art of gracefully walking on their toes are teetering while serving at the altar. I watched a cross bearer bobbing and weaving at the front of a procession because she was having a hard time balancing on her 4-inch heels and balancing the processional cross. The point is the altar servers, whether male or female, should serve at the Mass, not distract from it.

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