At the National Mass for Altar Servers at Westminster Cathedral on 6th October, Bishop John Sherrington thanked altar servers for their ‘faithfulness, dedication, and the time that you give to serving at the altar and serving Christ’. He commended them for their witness in stepping forward to serve: ‘It is really important that others in your parish see you serving. It may inspire them to do the same.’
Recalling the ad limina visit of the bishops of England and Wales to Rome the previous week, he said that they had celebrated Mass at the Church of St Stephen of the Abyssinians in the Vatican: ‘we remembered St Stephen the first martyr and prayed for all the altar servers who are dedicated to his care’.
During an audience with the Pope, the Holy Father had asked the bishops to relay his message to ‘be joyful in Christ’. Bishop John explained that joy ‘means that we trust in the love of God in every moment of life’ and that ‘the Holy Spirit stirs our hearts and that he will help us to pray and to be strong in the faith’.
Like the joy radiated by St Stephen, the patron saint of altar servers, in the face of fierce opposition, ‘joy is deep seated within the heart’ and is evident ‘when we place our lives under God’s protection’.
‘Being joyful also means being strong witnesses, like St Stephen, and standing up for your faith,’ Bishop Sherrington added.
The annual Mass is organised by the Archconfraternity of St Stephen. It was attended by altar servers from several dioceses around England and Wales, who renewed their commitment to serving, promising to ‘do my best to serve regularly with reverence and understanding, for the glory of God, the service of his Church and my own eternal salvation’.
The full text of Bishop John's homily is available here.
Additional photos are available here.