An altar server is a lay assistant to a member of the clergy during a Catholic liturgy. An altar server attends to supporting tasks at the altar such as fetching and carrying, ringing the altar bell, helps bring up the gifts, brings up the book, among other things. If young, the server is commonly called an altar boy or altar girl. In some Christian denominations, altar servers are known as acolytes.
Servers have many duties such as:
- Holding liturgical books for the priest when he is not at the altar and is proclaiming the presidential prayers with outstretched hands.
- Bringing and holding such things as books, thuribles, the lavabo water and towel, vessels to hold the consecrated bread, and microphones.
- The entrance procession is led by a thurifer with burning incense (if incense is used at the Mass) and a cross-bearer carrying a processional cross, who is flanked on either side by another server bearing a lighted candle.
- If incense is used, a server presents to the priest at the Alleluia or other pre-Gospel chant the thurible and the incense that he puts in the thurible and blesses, and servers, who may carry the thurible and lighted candles, precede to the ambo the deacon or priest who proclaims the Gospel there.