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Scout uniforms instead of cassocks jeanmarie Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Dear Mr.Slavek,
my children are altar servers, last week they and another child (who were dressed in their cassocks) were in their places to serve. As it happened to be a mass for the scout troup, two children dressed as scouts (who had given up altar serving) did all the "serving". I realise that altar serving is a form of discipline which used to be a preparation for priestly vocations, and that things have changed - but it made me very uncomfortable. My priest said mass wearing a scout scarf over his vestments.
Is this acceptable or am I being a starched shirt? Thank you.

Question Answered by Mr. Jacob Slavek

Dear Jean Marie,

I am inclined to agree with you.  The scout uniform is a great symbol of discipline and self-improvement, and it also represents service to God which is of course what the boys are doing when they serve at the altar.

But the Scout uniform also represents the Scout Law, and part of that law is obedience, and therefore when a scout assists at a Catholic mass, he must also obey liturgical law.  I don't think I need to explain the vesting guidelines here.. :-)

But more important than what the scout uniform or alb/cassock represent is what the scout is DOING and therefore what is the appropriate attire for the scout's function.   You would never see an altar server attend a troop meeting wearing a cassock, and likewise I don't think we should see a uniform at the altar.  I am not aware of any exceptions that allow scout uniforms at the altar, so therefore since the scout is serving the Lord at the altar, he should be dressed for the altar.

With that being said that I don't see any problem identifying the servers as Boy Scouts by way of some public announcement, I think that would be a great way to encourage participation both in the Boy Scout program and in service at the altar.

Mr. Slavek

Footer Notes: (a) A Eucharistic Minister is clergy (Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion). Laity are Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and should never be called Eucharistic Ministers.

(b) There is no such Mass called the Novus Ordo. The Current Mass is the Roman Missal of 2000, or the Oridinary Form of the Mass. The Tridentine Mass is the Roman Missal of 1962, or the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Please refrain from using the term, Novus Ordo. Thanks.

(c) The titles of Acolyte and Lector belong exclusively to the Installed Offices of Acolyte and Lector, who are men (only) appointed by the Bishop. These roles performed by others are Altar Servers and Readers, respectively.