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Instituted Acolytes


In 1972, Pope Paul VI revised several ministries and minor clerical orders. [1] One ministry that was preserved was the ministry of the instituted acolyte. While the term acolyte is at times used when referring to young men and women who assist at the altar (altar servers), the ministry of instituted acolyte is a permanent institution. Because the ministry has its roots in the formation of ordained clergy, the ministry is reserved to men.

The instituted acolyte is appointed to assist the deacon and serve the priest in the celebration of the liturgy. He is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion serving only when sufficient ordinary ministers are not available. [2] Instituted acolytes, as necessary, may also assist with the formation of other ministers who assist at the altar. Because these ministers are dedicated to service at the altar, they should strive to learn all they can about public divine worship and strive to grasp its inner spiritual meaning. A primary responsibility is to assist with the purification of vessels used in the distribution of Holy Communion.

Cardinal DiNardo has expressed his desire that men chosen for this ministry should be experienced sacristans and liturgical ministers. Men must be at least 21 years of age, fully initiated and living an exemplary Christian way of life, with no impediments to sacramental reception, (e.g., if married, one must be in valid union recognized by the Church).

Pastors determine the need for instituted acolytes in their parish.

The files below are intended for either pastor (P), candidate (C), or both (P&C):

P - Instituted Acolyte Checklist English
P&C - Ministry of the Acolyte English | Español
P&C - Petition EnglishEspañol
C - Memo to Candidates RE: Sacramental Records - REVISED English | Español
C - Virtus
C - Background Check Authorization Form English
C - Volunteer Code of Conduct Form English | Español



[1] Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter given "Motu Proprio: On first tonsure, minor orders, and the subdiaconate" (Ministeria Quaedam), August 15, 1972.

[2] See Canon 910 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.