In Fall of 2014 Fr. Illo announced that only male altar servers will be serving at Masses at Star of the Sea. Every priest has the right to determine how he will celebrate the Eucharist in this regard. Even a bishop may only permit, but not require, priests to have female altar servers.
The altar server program at Star of the Sea is more robust than any altar server program has been in recent years at the parish. Families are driving from miles around so their boys may be trained at reverent and beautiful liturgies. There are approximately 20 altar servers – trained in both English and Latin – in the program at this time, with two or three of the younger servers likely to enter seminary after high school. These boys serve with dignity and manly grace, and we can only hope and pray that some among them will follow Christ’s call to the priestly ministry.
Some who are critical of policies at Star of the Sea have asked: “Is it true that the boys-only policy promotes priestly vocations and should be encouraged?”
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), a research center affiliated with Georgetown University that has been the preeminent source for social scientific studies about the Catholic Church, has collected data that provide a conclusive answer to this question.
From CARA’s report “The Class of 2014: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood”, prepared for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
“Ordinands of the Class of 2014 have been active in parish ministries, with eight in ten (80 percent) indicating they served as an altar server …”
And from CARA’s “The Class of 2015: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood”
“Ordinands of the Class of 2015 have been active in parish ministries, with eight in ten (78 percent) indicating they served as an altar server …”
Thus, for the two most recent years for which we have data, 8 out of every 10 men ordained to the priesthood were, in their youth, altar servers.
An enlightening article on this subject here.