When Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Lewisburg put out a call for more altar servers, it was answered by a unique duo.
Dan DeSantis and his grandson Devin signed up to serve at Mass together, fulfilling a parish need and cementing a special bond.
“We’ve been enjoying it. We really have,” Dan said.
The arrangement started last year, when Devin expressed an interest in serving but was still a little young as a fourth grader. The parish was experiencing a dearth of servers and put out a plea.
“There were just a handful, really, and not enough to cover all the Masses,” Dan said.
His wife, Devin’s grandmother, Eileen, is the parish secretary. She came home and mentioned to her husband that the parish staff was wondering if adult servers could be an answer to the shortage. Dan was an altar server throughout his childhood and had done some serving as an adult at funerals when students weren’t available. He thought that maybe a collaboration with Devin could be a great fit.
The duo serves about once a month. Devin is in fifth grade and is happy to help his grandpa when he needs it.
“The first couple of Masses, he sort of guided me,” Dan said.
Even as a faithful Mass-goer, Dan said serving and having an integral part of the Mass is a different level of concentration. He said there are still times when he feels a little uncertain if he has missed a cue or should be doing something. Fortunately, Devin is on-hand with a “No, Pop Pop, not now,” when needed.
Dan said Devin has told him Mass is more interesting when he takes an active part in it. He especially likes getting to ring the bells and light candles.
“I think Devin has enjoyed it,” Dan said. “I’m thrilled that he wanted to do it.”
Devin agreed, and said he does feel more connected to the Mass when he serves.
“I personally think it’s better,” Devin said. “I like doing it. It’s something new to learn.”
Devin said it feels special to be able to be on the altar and take part in the liturgy.
Dan said a parishioner whose grandchildren live in another state told him how lucky he was to have this experience with his grandson. Dan agrees and is grateful for the chance to strengthen his bond with Devin, as well as be a role model for other children in the parish.
“I really think that it’s important for adults in the parish to step up and take an active role,” he said. “I would hope it’s also setting an example for my grandson.”
The duo’s pastor said he is happy to be witness to the collaboration.
“It is a delight to see a grandfather and grandson both assisting at the Holy Mass,” said Father Matthew R. Larlick.
“Serving at the altar, at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish and St. George Mission, is open to boys and girls, men and women of all ages who have received their first Holy Communion,” Father Larlick said. “Dan and his grandson Devin, with their assistance at Mass, provide an important service to the people and priest.”
(Lisa Maddux is a freelance writer for The Catholic Witness.)
(Photo courtesy of Sacred Heart Parish.)
By Lisa Maddux, The Catholic Witness