September 5, 2011
Altar servers at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix take part in a special Mass in their honour.

CNS PHOTO | AMBRIA HAMMEL

Altar servers at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix take part in a special Mass in their honour.

Father John Lankeit, rector of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, has announced that from now on only boys will be altar servers at the church.

Girls who are currently serving in that capacity will have the opportunity to train as sacristans.

Lankeit said those shocked by the move are, unknowingly perhaps, more influenced by society rather than by Church teaching.

The decision, he said, is a way to honour the God-given dignity of both men and women.

It's also one way to encourage more vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

He pointed to a parish in Ann Arbor, Mich., that in 2008, had 22 seminarians.

He also mentioned the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., which similarly reserves altar service to boys and has seen strong growth in vocations to the priesthood.