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August 19, 1994     The Message
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10 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Au Many U.S. dioceses set altar server ru By JERRY FILTEAU Catholic News Service is up to each bishop in his own diocese, following consultation with other members of his bishops' conference Some bishops who issued policies this summer permitted the option effective immedi- ately while others set a spe- cific date when the practice could begin. Some parish leaders inter- viewed by diocesan newspa- pers said they would imple- ment their bishop's guidelines in September, when school opens and they begin training a new group of servers. Others began training girls right away. Still others said no change in their program was needed, since they already had both male and female servers. WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A number of U.S. bishops this summer set rules and start-up dates for using female altar servers in their dioceses. Their actions came in the wake of a Vatican ruling this spring that confirmed the op- tion of female altar servers and a discussion in June at which a national gathering of bishops overwhelmingly welcomed and approved the practice for the United States. The Vatican ruling, made public in April, said there is nothing in church law prohibit- ing female altar servers, but a decision to use or not use them Altar servers: Family involvement is concern By PAUL R. LEINGANG Message editor Sessions were to be held- within the past two weeks in Jasper, Newburg, Loogootee and Evansville. The fifth ses- sion is scheduled at St. John Church, Vincennes, on Mon- day, Aug. 22. Father Deering said that the training sessions include cate- chesis about who may serve and guidelines from the U.S. Bishops Committee on the Liturgy. Diocesan directives include such items as the emphasis on the family, what servers should wear (white ankle-length albs) and an emphasis on the diocesan decision (not parish discretion) to include men and women, boys and girls. Diocesan policy on altar ser- vice was to be established and formalized by the new Dioce- san Pastoral Council, :which held its first meeting and plan- ning retreat over the past weekend, Aug. 12 -- 14. When altar servers are being selected in the Diocese of Evansville, family involvement is an important concern. "If the children of a family are serving, perhaps mother and father would be the lectors or ministers of communion or greeters," is the suggestion being made at training ses- sions throughout the diocese. Such scheduling would "permit the whole family to come to Mass together." Five training sessions for people who train altar servers have been scheduled in the dio- cese, at the requst of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger. Train- ing sessions are under the di- rection of Father William Deering, director of worship, and Mary Ann Wittgen, of the Diocesan Liturgical Commis- sion. Golden Jubilarians Dennis and Monica (Hopf) Schuetter will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at Precious Blood Church, Jasper. Father Joseph Kane will officiate. A dinner for immediate family and invited guests will follow the Mass at the Jasper K of C; an Open House will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. The couple requests no gifts. They were married Aug. 24, 1944, at St. Joseph Church. The late Msgr. Leonard Wernsing officiated. They are the parents of three children: Randy Schuetter of Jasper, Carol Hopewell of Haubstadt, and Lavonne Seidl of Newburgh. They have six grandchildren. Mr. Schuetter retired from Jasper Woodworking and Mrs. Schuetter re- tired from General Electric in Tell City. In implementing new rules some bishops mandated female servers in all parishes, others strongly urged them, and still others made no specific re- quirement or recommendation. At least one, Bishop John C. Reiss of Trenton, N.J., took an explicitly neutral stance. In his announcement of guidelines for female servers Aug. 2, he said the actual decision whether to proceed with the practice in a parish is "in the hands of each pastor, who should first con- sult with his parish council" By contrast, when Bishop Edward T. Hughes set up guidelines June 30 in the neighboring Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., he told his priests, "It is my strongest pos- sible recommendation that every parish take advantage of this opportunity." When an in- vitation for candidates went out in one parish in East Brunswick, 33 girls signed up to become servers. Bishop Anthony Bosco of Greensburg, Pa., in a July 22 letter to his priests announcing guidelines for female servers, wrote: "I cannot think of any valid reason why any parish would not have them. I encour- age this for the same reasons that we encourage female lec- tors and extraordinary minis- ters of the Eucharist." In the Diocese of Honolulu, Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo directed "all parishes to plan to introduce the practice of hav- ing both male and female altar servers" beginning July 11. mend Carmody June 29 asked all pastors to "plan for the in- troduction of both male and fe- male servers for your parish" starting Aug. 1. Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly of Louisville, Ky., wrote his priests July 29 urging that the use of both male and female servers be "uniformly observed throughout the archdiocese." Archbishop Kelly -- whose priests had urged him before the bishops' meeting to support the use of altar girls -- said in an interview with his arch- diocesan newspaper, The Record, "Girls and women make excellent servers at the altar. They are good at this ministry, and I'm pleased that the Holy See has interpreted the church's law in such a way as to make it possible." The Florida Catholic re- ported in early July that at least five of the bishops in the state had already established female server policies or said they intended to do so soon. Bishop Norbert M. Dorsey of Orlando issued a policy June 21, and a few days later 16- year-old Katie O'Brien joined her brothers Bobble and Wil serving Mass for the bishop in the cathedral. Archbishop Francis B. Schulte of New Orleans an- nounced that as of Aug. 1, "women as well as men who apply and are properly quali- fied and prepared are accepted as altar servers." In a June 29 letter policies for the Diocese Scranton, Pa., Bishop Timlin commented, "Now the church has allowed and girls to serve at the the debate is over and it no longer be a source of d: slon. Many of the diocesan or guidelines published the country closely suggested guidelines by the bishops' Committee the Liturgy and distributec the bishops June 16, at start of a national San Diego at which they cussed the issue. The suggested guideli proposed that where feint servers are allowed, the "altar boys" should be by the term servers. The committee that "no distinction made" between males and males in serving functions. It suggested that "all should wear the same litul cal vesture" and, following Vatican's "General of the Roman Missal," that alb should be regarded as preferred vestment Most diocesan guid( published so far have identical, treatment of boys girls in training and assigned to them, and have urged identical when servers wear an alb other distinctive robe. 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