Altar boys serve at all Sunday and daily Masses, funerals and weddings. Boys 9 years and older who have received their First Communion are allowed to serve after completion of training at Saint Raymond’s. Contact the Parish Office at 703-440-0535 or

”The altar server occupies a privileged place in the liturgical celebration. The altar server presents himself to a community and experiences firsthand that Jesus Christ is present and active in every liturgical act. Jesus is present when the community comes together to pray and render praise to God.

Jesus is present in the Word of sacred Scripture. Jesus is present above all in the Eucharist under the signs and bread and wine. He acts through the priest who, in the person of Christ, celebrates the holy Mass and administers the sacraments.

Therefore, in the liturgy, you are much more than simple ‘helpers of the parish priest’. Above all, you are servers of Jesus Christ, of the eternal High Priest. Thus, you, altar servers, are called in particular to be young friends of Jesus. Be determined to go deeper and to cultivate this friendship with Him. You will discover that in Jesus you have found a true friend for life.”
Saint John Paul II

What is an Altar Server?

Through Baptism, we are all called to be a “holy people and royal priesthood” (I Peter 2:9), whose right and privilege it is to participate in Christ’s own ministry. How we do so varies from person to person, but the most important way is “conscious, active, and fruitful participation in the mystery of the Eucharist” (GIRM, Intro. 5). Since the Eucharist is the “action of the whole Church” (GIRM, Intro. 5), all of us have an “individual right and duty to contribute” (GIRM, 58). Some are called to do so in a more particular way through liturgical ministries, such as Altar Server, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, or Lector.
Since the Eucharist is the most important thing we do as Catholic Christians, the importance of this ministry cannot be over‐emphasized. It is an honor and privilege to serve at the altar, assisting the priest in his responsibilities of leading the people in prayer.
An Altar Server is a part of Christ’s own body, the church, and we work in harmony to glorify God through our service.

Altar Servers may be called upon to serve in any number of situations. While these guidelines specifically envision the Sunday Mass, they also may serve at weekday Mass celebrations, funeral liturgies, Eucharistic Adoration, or any other public worship service in the church.
Rather than replacing the priest or deacon, the Altar Server is an extension of the community’s need to participate actively in the celebration of the church’s public ministry.

Although the duties of the altar server are many and varied, the most important responsibility of the altar server during Mass is to pray! Before one may serve at the altar, he:

-Must have received the sacrament of First Holy Communion
-Have a strong desire to serve the Lord
-Must be committed to their fellow servers
-Attend training and meetings that are scheduled


ABLUTION CUP ‐ a covered dish of water on the side of the tabernacle used by the priest, deacon, or Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist to wash their fingers after distributing communion.

ALB ‐ the full length white garment worn by the priest, deacon, and in some cases altar servers. The alb is symbolic of baptism. The rope tied around the waist is called a CINCTURE.

ASPERGILLIUM ‐ the holy water sprinkler.

CASSOCK ‐ a long, tunic like garment which reaches from the neck to the heels which is worn by some servers and clergy. May be either black or red.

CHALICE ‐ a cup made of precious metal that holds the wine which becomes the Blood of Christ after the consecration. All chalices should be put away after Mass. If the chalices were left unpurified by the priest or deacon after Mass, they should be left out on the presentation table in the Sacristy for purification later by the priest or deacon. Never put an un‐purified chalice away.

CIBORIUM ‐ a large cup or container made of precious metal with a cover of the same material which will hold The Body of Christ in the Tabernacle. This same vessel may be used to distribute communion.

CORPORAL ‐ a white linen cloths, usually with a cross for other design of woven in, used to protect any particles of the Body and Blood of Jesus from falling to the altar cloths. It is always a folded and unfolded as to protect any particles from being lost. The corporal is like the body winding sheet used to hold the crucified body of our Lord in the tomb.

CREDENCE TABLE ‐ the table in the sanctuary where the CRUETS, CHALICES, and CIBORIUM are kept before and after the consecration.

CRUETS ‐ the vessels containing the water and wind used at Mass.

FLAGAN ‐ another name used for the large pitcher holding the wine to be used at Mass.

LECTIONARY ‐ the book of readings used for the Liturgy of the Word. It usually contains all of the Biblical readings used for the three year Sunday cycle of readings. There are other Lectionary books that hold the weekday Mass readings.

LUNA or LUNETTE ‐ a thin, circular receptacle, having a glass face that holds the consecrated host used for adoration and benediction. It slides into the MONSTRANCE on a little track.

MONSTRANCE ‐ this is a large, ornate vessel used to hold the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration, Benediction, and solemn Eucharistic processions.

PALL ‐ a square piece of cardboard or plastic, covered by linen, used to cover the chalice.

PASCHAL CANDLE ‐ also called the Christ Candle ‐ is a special temple that is blessed at the Easter vigil and that during the Easter season and baptisms, funerals, and other special events.

PATEN ‐ a small saucer shaped plate made of precious metal that holds the Host. Servers should be very careful when they have to handle it in their official duties.

PROCESSIONAL CROSS ‐ the crucifix mounted on a long soul that is carried at the front of the entrance procession.

PURIFICATOR ‐ a linen cloth used by the priest or deacon to drive the chalice after washing and purifying a hit. Used PURIFICATORS must always be placed in the proper container for sacred cloths.

PYX ‐ a case, about the size of a pocket watch, in which communion is carried to those who are sick or unable to come to church.

ROMAN MISSAL or SACRAMENTARY ‐ the book containing the prayers used by the priest during Mass.

SACRARIUM ‐ a sink with its drain going directly into the ground, usually fitted with a cover and lock, which is used for the disposal of the following: the sacred linen’s wash and rinse water, used holy water, used baptismal water, consecrated wine, and blessed ashes. No other use is allowed.

SANCTUARY ‐ space at the front of the church which is slightly elevated and is the place where most of the “action” takes place. The word means “holy place.” It contains:

MAIN ALTAR ‐ the large table in the middle of the sanctuary on which the sacrifice of the Mass takes place.
AMBO ‐ the special space set aside for Sacred Scripture reading and preaching.
PRESIDER’S CHAIR ‐ the chair from which the priest leads the prayers and the rites of the church.
STOCK ‐ the metal containers used to hold the Oil of Catechumens, the Sacred Chrism, and the Oil for the Anointing of the Sick.

SURPLICE ‐ a wide‐sleeved garment worn over a cassock by clergy and altar servers in some parishes.

TABERNACLE ‐ a small cupboard where the consecrated Body of Christ is kept for distribution to the sick. It is usually crafted of fine material such as precious metal and lined with fine linens to denote the dignity of the place. The root word means the “Dwelling Place (of God).”

THURIBLE ‐ the special vessel which holds burning charcoal and into which incense is placed. The device holding the incense is called the “BOAT.” The one who carries them is called the THURIFER.

An Altar Server’s Prayer

Open my mouth, O Lord, to bless your Holy Name.

Cleanse my heart from all evil and distracting thoughts.

Enlighten my understanding and inflame my will

that I may serve more worthily at your Holy Altar.

O Mary, Mother of Christ the High Priest, obtain for me

the most important grace of knowing my vocation in life.

Grant me a true spirit of faith and humble obedience

So that I may ever behold the priest as a representative of God

and willingly follow him in

The Way, The Truth, and the Life of Christ.


Ad Orientem Training Videos

To view the Altar Server schedule for June 2024, please click here.

Altar Server schedule for Christmas and Mary, Mother of God, please click here.