The Ministry of Acolyte has its roots in ancient tradition, when "ministries were established by the Church for the purpose of suitably giving worship to God and for offering service to the people of God according to their needs. By these ministries, the offices to be carried out in the liturgy and the practice of charity, deemed suitable to varying circumstances, were entrusted to the faithful" (Pope Paul VI, Ministeria Quaedam, 15 August 1972).
In the Diocese of Wollongong today, this ministry is open to both men and women in the ministries of Adult Server, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and Communion of the Sick and Homebound.
The role of acolyte is for service at the altar, and to assist the priest and deacon. Acolytes carry the cross, the candles, the censor, the thurible, the bread, the wine, and the water. Acolytes prepare the altar and sacred vessels and, if needed, distribute Holy Communion to the faithful as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Acolytes minister Communion of the Sick and Home-bound.
2 hours per Mass and 1-2 hours in visitation to the sick. Usually scheduled by roster weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Ongoing training and formation.
Requirements for Admission to the Ministry
Today a candidate is commissioned by the bishop as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion for his lifetime and is not required to be re-commissioned. In the Diocese of Wollongong, permission to regularly exercise the ministries of Acolyte, Adult Server, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and Communion of the Sick and Homebound is at the discretion of the Bishop and is granted for a maximum period of five years, following which the minister may apply for further five year periods of service. Acolytes and Adult Servers must continually maintain a current Working With Children Check Clearance.
Acolytes must be separately authorised for Communion of the Sick and Home-bound and must consent to a National Police History Check by the Diocese of Wollongong.
Working With Children Check (WWCC)
Guidelines for Acolytes, Altar Servers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (3rd Edition, June 2015)