Question of the Week: Anxious Altar Servers


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Our Question of the Week was submitted by a reader.

My son is an altar server in our parish, but a few times he’s come close to fainting because of the hot weather and altar-server robe. I’ve tried making sure he’s well-hydrated and that he wears light clothing under the robe, but this hasn’t helped. He is uncomfortable and upset about it, and feels like he wants to quit.

I don’t want him to quit altar serving. What can I do to help him through this?

Please share your answers and experiences in the comment box below.


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About Author

Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom, Secular Franciscan, managing editor for Today's Catholic Teacher magazine and editor at Her three children range in age from high school to young adult, and she enjoys writing, cooking, and reading. Barb is a music minister at her parish and an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Find her blog at FranciscanMom and her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information for diabetics at Cook and Count.


  1. Dear friend, all 3 of my children have been altar servers, and my youngest is also a fainter. It took him a long time to get back on the horse after the first two times he fainted while serving. Finally, a third time he came close–and he was done with it. This is definitely stressful on your child, so perhaps you and your pastor can find another way for him to serve the church. When my son stopped serving, for example, he began helping the ushers with the offertory on weekends when one of the regular ushers was absent. Altar serving is a beautiful way to serve the church, but it certainly isn’t the only way.

  2. I have a couple suggestions:

    1. If it really is the heat, pause the altar serving until it’s cooler. Some people are just more sensitive to heat. I think it’s fine to be a fair weather server. 🙂
    2. If it seems like it’s more anxiety than anything, become an altar server as well! It’s not “normal,” but it is acceptable to be an adult altar server. Serving with a parent might ease his nerves and show how important the ministry is to your family.
    3. Practice standing without locking knees. It might be the stiff standing that’s causing problems.
    4. Talk to your son about other ways God might be able to use his gifts if it seems like this isn’t a good fit. We’re not all meant for every ministry, and that’s okay.

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