Church / Acolyte Guide
Church Over the Years
There was a time in the past when quite a bit more involved with church life especially as a child and adolescent in the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church when living and working in Australia (’90 – ’04), and then for a while with the Episcopal Church (especially after returning back to the US in early 2005).
I am essentially done with church for now – I have grown quite tired of the polotics and the “holier than thou” types.
I was brought up Roman Catholic within a small French-Canadian farming community in St-George, IL attending St. George Catholic Church. My dad and his family trace back there to the mid-to-late 1800s and to Quebec and France prior to that. Almost all of the tombstones towards the north end of the graveyard closest to the church are in French. There are many graves going back in my family’s history. Sadly, there are too many graves there from relatives known when growing up such as my father, grandparents (my father’s), most of my dad’s brothers and sisters, and now some of my cousins. The sister I never knew born and passing about a year and a half before my birth is buried next to my grandparents.
I was 5 years old starting as an Alter Boy in the First grade. The Mass was in Latin at this time. I was going to the same school (just southwest of the church) my father and his siblings had gone to - even having some of the same nuns (it is now St. George Elemntary School)! We had Mass first thing each and every school day – got lots of practice being an Altar Boy while there at St. George up through the middle of 5th grade when we moved (and moved off of the farm). I still can recall serving Mass at a Saturday wedding with my dad singing a solo up from the choir loft!
Like many of my generation I sort of drifted away from the Church for a while as a young adult. There was a lot going on getting drafted, active duty for 4 years in the USAF, college for a while, working domestic and internationally for a while, finally graduating with my bachelors, then working professionally. Only after getting a bit settled working professionally found me returning back to the Catholic Church. I had restarted attending at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Richardson, TX which was about 2-3 blocks from my first house in Garland, TX (I was also working in Garland about 2 miles south of my house).
Denice and I got married at St. Joseph’s in FEB88. Fr. Mellito was fabulous allowing Denice’s Methodist minister, the Rev. Wilson to co-officiate! Denice and I “bounced around” between her Methodist church in Mesquite and St. Joseph’s for the 2 years while living in the Rowlett.
After relocating to Australia for my job in APR90, we again “bounced around” going to churches there in Alice Springs, Northern Territory (NT). Once again, we were trying to find our “church home”, one where we both felt comfortable and welcomed. We tried the Uniting (Methodist) and the Catholic churches there for a while before finally visiting the Anglican. The Anglican Church of the Ascension became our new church home for a number of years! All of our four (4) children were born in Alice Springs along with being baptized there. We were quite involved with the church with the boys and I being Acolytes along with me as a Sacristan and training Acolytes. I was also on the church's Council (Vestry here in the US) from 2002 to late 2004 (just prior returning to the US).
We returned back to the US with Denice and the kids in-place at our new house in Brighton, CO in AUG04 with my return just prior to Christmas 2004. We got quite involved with St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Brighton, CO. Each of the kids were Acolytes along with me training Acolytes along with being Chalice Minister. Our oldest son also became the organist (starting his love for the organ….even getting invited by the Bishop to come play the Cathedral organ which he did!).
Nathaniel at St. Elizabeth's (~JUN07)
Nathaniel playing at St. John's Cathedral in Denver (DEC07)
My family and I got quite involved with our new Episcopal church in Aldie, VA after relocating to northern Virginia due to my job. Nathaniel continued to being an organist (since they did not have one). This membership turned out to be quite a bad one due to the finance-guy-turned-priest, his wife, and the whack-a-doodle “youth minister”. After about a year and a half, my wife and I were essentially “fed-up" with the (lack of) leadership and the mis-direction….and I am being kind here too. One of the best things we have done as a family was to get the hell out of that cesspool of a church. The whack-a-doodle “youth minister” is an entire sad story all by itself.
We joined another Episcopal church sometime after the one in Aldie. This was another adventure into loony-ville with a newly-minted Episcopal “priest” from his falling out as a Catholic “priest” being assigned some months after we started there. We did not last long either after seeing this joker’s true colors.
There have been some other Episcopal churches along with way until our current location in Pueblo, CO region. None stand out either. That includes our current church where Denice and I have been attending since moving here in SEP18 – we have been essentially anonymous for years. Even late last year with a regular person coming up to me wondering if we were new or visiting? Really?
Just tired of it all! Done!
Acolyte Leader (aka Acolyte “Wrangler” in my mind)
I was leading and training the Acolytes at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Brighton, CO from AUG04 to DEC07 (this was the time after Australia and before relocating to northern VA from CO due to my job).. I seemed to be covering some of the same information week after week in training sessions with our young people. Out of desperation and not locating any training source aligned with our needs, I personally produced an acolyte guide, one that reflected how and what we did for the celebration.
Zoe, our daughter and last of the four children, was 8 years old and one of the last acolytes trained at St. Elizabeth's prior to relocating to northern Virginia. She continued to acolyte at the churches we belonged to in northern Virginia until she was 13 or 14.
I continued to train Acolytes at our church in Aldie, VA until our departure from there.
Deacon Susan, myself, Fr. Jim, and Zoe
(clockwise from left)
The attached PDF file describes and illustrates what should be accomplished as an Acolyte at St. Elizabeth's. The original Word document when printed on 7 pieces of regular paper (8.5 x 11), and when bi-folded and stapled in the middle, made a 28-page booklet.
The pamphlet was envisioned as a "what to do and when to do it" instructional guide for the Acolytes. It was provided to each one of the acolytes at their first training session. The training sessions were usually after church for 10-20 minutes when their parents were at the Fellowship downstairs in the basement having a cup of coffee and such. A pamphlet was also at each acolyte's position - we normally had two acolytes at the single Sunday Service, but sometimes only one. One feature of the booklet at each Acolyte’s position was that when laid face down, the back cover (or page 28) served as a quick reference guide or “cheat sheet” by glancing at it on for what to do and when to do it just in case the Acolyte “got lost” some during the service. Most of the time, and especially when a young person was first starting, I was also there subtly guiding them along (vested as the Chalice Minister, reader, and/or Crucifer).
One area in the PDF file to highlight is with the pictures. The pictures were personally taken during an arranged “photo shoot” one late Fall 2007 Saturday afternoon at St. Elizabeth’s with Fr. Jim and Kris, my third son (then 11 in late 2007. Fr. Jim, Kris, and I met at church for the "photo shoot" – it must have been one at the first days of Advent seeing Fr. Jim in a blue trimmed chasuble. Fr. Jim was great working with me to get the pictures wanted, ones wanting to show the new and relatively new acolytes on how to do certain things and in the right sequence, areas seen getting "messed up" or not done right at previous services. Anyway, the hands in the pictures are those of Fr. Jim. Fr. Jim was quite happy with the direction being taken and with the results.
The pamphlet’s content could very easily be tailored for use with services at another church. It all depends on how the celebrant likes to have the service. There may also be a requirement for having one or more variations on how certain things need to be accomplished (e.g.: baptisms, etc.). The goal of the pamphlet was to reduce or eliminate confusion with the acolytes by walking them through the typical celebration step-by-step.
The Acolyte Handbook was out on the St. Elizabeth's website too for a few years. When checking on it some years ago, it was not found "out there" anymore.