Altar servers recognized for their dedication and dependability
The dedication of so many who help bring people to the Lord during Mass was recognized at the 52nd annual presentation of Altar Server Awards.
The July 9 ceremony at St. Joseph Cathedral saw 65 altar servers receive medals from Bishop Michael W. Fisher. The awardees are nominated from their parish.
Bishop Fisher commented on the number of priests who attended the Mass to help honor their loyal assistants.
“I almost thought we were at an ordination again,” the bishop said.
Father David Baker, director of the Vocations Office which sponsored the event, delivered a homily from the “Galactic Senate,” as he once described the ceremony as a scene from Star Wars with one representative from each planet in ceremonial robes gathering for a noble purpose.
“Isn’t this a noble purpose that we gather for?” he asked the congregation. “Not just today, but every time you step up to the altar, you put on your ceremonial robe and step into that noble role as an altar server. You help us give the Mass the honor it deserves.”
Honored for their reverence and dependability, the servers have built up a habit in their lives of saying “Yes” to Jesus.
VocationMinistry.com reports that three-quarters of new priests once had the role of altar server in their home parishes. A parish can create an atmosphere of reverence and duty at Mass that reinforces in young people the joy of serving the Lord.
Bishop Fisher blessed the medals. Then he placed them around the necks of the recipients while thanking them for their service.
Altar serving is not just a role for young people. Two adults, including 91-year-old Thomas Friedman from Our Lady of Peace in Clarence, were honored at the ceremony.
Friedman began serving at Buffalo’s Blessed Trinity Parish back in 1941 under Father Albert Rung. “He helped me with my Latin,” Friedman recalled.
He continued serving when his family moved to St. Vincent Parish, then on Main Street in Buffalo, and in every parish he attended, including the USS Midway, while serving in the Navy in the 1950s.
After leaving the Navy and getting married, Friedman moved to St. Christopher’s in Tonawanda, where he served under Msgr. William Solleder, the former roommate of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Twenty years later, he and his family moved to Clarence.
“When we moved to Our Lady of Peace, I used to go to Mass every morning. They needed a server, so I said, ‘I’ll do it.’ And I’ve been serving there ever since. … Broke in several pastors.”
Why does stay involved? “The Mass is the perfect prayer,” he said.
He also has served as a trustee at Our Lady of Peace, as chairman of parish council, and head of Catholic Charities division. He takes Communion to shut ins, and belongs to the Knight of Columbus.
“It’s a way of getting closer to God and doing what He asks us to do, and I enjoy serving,” he said of his service to his community.
How do you feel about receiving the award?
“Oh, it feels great. I was unaware that there was an Altar Server Award until this year. Father Walt (Szczesny, pastor) told me there was and asked if I would accept it for the parish and I said I would be happy to.”
Altar Server Award Recipients – 2022:
Amelia Beck – St. Pius X, Getzville
Matthew Betz – St. Mary of the Assumption, Lancaster
Emily Butski – Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph, Niagara Falls
Isabella Carlino – St. Gabriel, Elma
Matthew Compton – St. Maximilian Kolbe, Corfu
John Paul Cygan – Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, Olean
Brody DeVantier – Queen of Martyrs, Cheektowaga
Joseph Fagan – St. Mark, Kendall
Gabrielle Flumerfeldt – St. Teresa of Avila, Akron
Thomas F. Friedman – Our Lady of Peace, Clarence
Sean Garrison – St. Vincent de Paul, Niagara Falls
Caleb Gatas – St. Amelia, Tonawanda
Noah Gatas – St. Amelia, Tonawanda
Damon Gawel – St. John Paul II, Lake View
Gabriella Geiger – Queen of Angels, Lackawanna
Michael Georger – Our Lady of Pompeii, Lancaster
Robert Giuseppetti – St. Jude the Apostle, North Tonawanda
Evan B. Hanzlian – St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Cheektowaga
Kayla Harding – St. Padre Pio, Oakfield
Paige Harding – St. Padre Pio, Oakfield
Mya Hayes – St. Mary, Holley
Michael Hershenov – St. John the Baptist, Kenmore
Samuel Hersom – St. Brigid, Bergen
Isabella Hoertz – Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Williamsville
Elias J. Horn – Corpus Christi, Buffalo
Jonah Kawado – Nativity of Our Lord, Orchard Park
Jonathan Kennedy – St. Francis of Assisi, Athol Springs
Matthew Kennedy – St. Francis of Assisi, Athol Springs
Thomas Kirchman – St. Christopher, Tonawanda
Joshua Kirsch – St. John Neumann, Strykersville
Patrick Klump – St. Michael, Warsaw
Nathaniel Lindstrom – Our Lady of Victory Basilica, Lackawanna
Messina Maul – St. Mary, Arcade
Samuel Mitchell – Blessed Sacrament, Town of Tonawanda
Madison Nagel – St. Teresa of Calcutta, Depew
Chanelle Ndayishimiye – SS. Columba-Brigid, Buffalo
Luke Nowak – Queen of Heaven, West Seneca
Anina Pabros – Our Lady of Mercy, LeRoy
Christopher Pappal – St. Vincent de Paul, Niagara Falls
Maria Pawelczak – St. Stephen, Grand Island
Thomas J. Pesarchick – St. Gregory the Great, Williamsville
Sam Pietro – Holy Trinity, Dunkirk
Thomas Pivarunas – Church of the Annunciation, Elma
Mary Quinn – St. Mary, Swormville
Guadalupe Ramirez – Epiphany of Our Lord, North Collins
Joshua Riccio – St. John Vianney, Orchard Park
Michael Richards – St. Mary of the Cataract, Niagara Falls
Gabriel Schrader – St. Anthony, Fredonia
Walter Sedlmayer, St. Joseph, Fredonia
Ava Shanks – St. Peter, Lewiston
Ivan Smith – Immaculate Conception, Ransomville
Francine Stringham – Mary Immaculate, East Bethany
Simon Stringham – Mary Immaculate, East Bethany
Johnathan Touma – St. John de LaSalle, Niagara Falls
Derek Universal – SS. Peter & Paul, Williamsville
Benjamin VanderLinden – St. Brendan on the Lake, Newfane
Elizabeth Wagner – St. John de LaSalle, Niagara Falls
Andrew Walker – St. Aloysius, Springville
Kathryn Weber – Church of the Annunciation, Elma
Matthew Wenke – St. John the Evangelist, Olean
Emma Wheeler – All Saints, Lockport
Nathan White – Immaculate Conception, East Aurora
Allison Michelle Wierzba – Immaculate Conception, Eden
Joseph Zielinski – St. John Neumann, Strykersville
Alyson Zurek – St. Mary of the Lake, Hamburg