Serra recognizes Toronto altar servers

By  Sara Loftson, The Catholic Register
  • November 3, 2006

 TORONTO - There was standing room only at St. Michael's Cathedral for the 21st annual Cardinal Carter Altar Server Awards on Oct. 28.

Auxiliary Bishop Richard Grecco celebrated Mass for just over 430 altar servers from 116 parishes in the archdiocese of Toronto, which is a dramatic increase from 21 years ago when only 30 parishes and 55 altar servers participated in the first such Mass.

The Toronto clubs of Serra International, an organization that encourages religious vocations, sponsor the Mass with a twofold purpose: to recognize the service these young people give to the church and to foster vocations.

"Possibly, this may help them think about vocations," said one of Serra's past club presidents Frank Kennedy, who started the first awards Mass.

During the homily, Grecco engaged the audience, walking up and down the aisle, asking the altar servers questions and using his staff to illustrate his message. He set out to highlight two points: the role of the bishop and that a bishop's staff is symbolic of Jesus as Good Shepherd.

"Jesus calls and chooses His apostles," said Grecco.

After the homily Patrick Rodrigues, chair of the awards ceremony, called up the altar servers to receive their medals from Fr. Liborio Amaral, vocations director for the archdiocese, and Fr. Edwin Gonsalves, who heads the Office of Catholic Youth, and shake hands with the bishop.

Afterward, the altar servers and family went to the parish hall for a reception.

"When I was small I always wanted to do it. I saw the older kids doing it and I looked up to them," said Patrick Myszkal, 14, a server for seven years at St. Eugene de Mazenod parish.

As for the priesthood, "I don't know if I have a call. I haven't thought about it."

"I would continue to serve as an altar server, but as a priest I don't think so. I have a dream of being an actor," said 10-year-old Taylor Cannon, an altar server at St. Mark's parish.

"You could see some of them were attentive. Some of them you can never tell," said Rodrigues, adding quite a few men at Serra House, a discernment community, received altar server awards.

"If we touch one who goes on to be a priest then we've accomplished something," said Kennedy.

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