Instituted Acolytes

Applications for the next training cohort must be received by Friday, March 31, 2023. 

In order for an acolyte candidate to be included in the next training session, all original documents must be received by the Office of Worship no later than Friday, March 31, 2023.

Please note:  Faxes and copies will NOT be accepted and will only delay applications! 

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. Originally, since this ministry has its roots in the minor orders, it was reserved to men. Following Pope Francis' motu proprio Spiritus Domini (Jan 11, 2021), Canon Law now allows for both men and women to be instituted as acolytes. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston is awaiting guidance from the USCCB regarding the admittance of women to this ministry.

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 a valid union recognized by the Church).

Pastors determine the need for instituted acolytes in their parish, in consultation with the Office of Worship.  Following institution, the parish will be billed the current rate for formation sessions.

Below are links to the documents that all candidates must read. Instructions are included for those documents that require personal information and a signature from each candidate. Each document is intended for either pastor (P), candidate (C), or both (P&C). Once completed, original documents must be submitted to the Office of Worship. COPIES/FAXED DOCUMENTS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. Click here for the documents in Spanish.

P - Instituted Acolyte Checklist English 

P&C - Ministry of the Acolyte English 

P&C - Petition English 

C - Memo to Candidates RE: Sacramental Records - REVISED English

C -  

C - Background Check Authorization Form English 

C - Volunteer Code of Conduct Form English 

[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.