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WALTHAM -- Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley honored altar servers in the Archdiocese of Boston at a special appreciation Mass at St. Mary Church in Waltham on Oct. 21.
Servers and their families from over 30 parishes filled the pews to celebrate with the cardinal, who blessed the servers and gave them each a certificate of thanks.
"Real happiness, real success, comes from a life of service," Cardinal O'Malley said in his homily. "As Jesus' disciples, our vocation is one of service."
On behalf of the Church, Cardinal O'Malley thanked the youth for their service to God at the altar. He emphasized the importance of following in Jesus footsteps and serving God and neighbor.
"At that last supper, Jesus is the host but he's also the altar server. And one of the things he does at that last supper is to wash the feet of his disciples, just like you servers wash the priest's hands," he said.
Cardinal O'Malley encouraged the youth to recognize the importance of their roles as servers.
"At Mass, you altar servers are very close to a miracle," he said. "I hope that you will see it up close and allow that sign to touch your heart as you realize that God's making a gift of Himself to us to help us be able to make a gift of ourselves to others."
Several seminarians were present at the Mass, which is sponsored by the archdiocese's Vocation Office, as well as numerous priests from other parishes.
First Theology seminarian, Fernando Ayala, spoke about his time as an altar server and how it played into his decision to enter the seminary.
"You really need to appreciate the place that you are in right now as an altar server. Why? Because you are serving God."
Each year at the Mass, eight altar servers receive special recognition "for exemplary service to their parish and their community." Four young men are presented with the Pope St. John Paul II Service Award and four young women receive the St. Teresa of Calcutta Service Award.
This year's recipients are:
St. Teresa of Calcutta Senior Awards
Allison Campbell, St. Catherine of Siena, Norwood
Sydney Raza, St. Augustine, Andover
St. Teresa of Calcutta Junior Awards
Marissa Galvao of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Brockton
Collette Dufresne of St. John the Evangelist Parish, Chelmsford
Pope St. John Paul II Senior Awards
Daniel Zatta of St. John the Evangelist Parish, Chelmsford
Yassen Joseph of St. Mary Parish, Waltham
Pope St. John Paul II Junior Awards
Sean Nelson of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish, Acton
Joshua Campbell of St. Adelaide Parish, Peabody.