A reflection on father-son altar servers

By T. Waldmann-Williams
For The Catholic Messenger

When I saw Brian and Mason Hatch, parishioners at St. Anthony Parish in Knoxville, serving Sunday Mass together, I was reminded of when my brother served daily Mass with our dad for about five years in the Mercy Hospital chapel in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

T. Waldmann-Williams
Mason Hatch and his dad, Brian Hatch, appreciate the opportunity to serve together as altar servers at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Knoxville. Brian was an altar server when he was younger and decided to serve again at his son’s request.

My father and brother rode bicycles to daily 6 a.m. Mass during good weather. A few weeks ago I asked my brother, Tim Waldmann, what it was like to serve with Dad more than 50 years ago. He told me: “It was great to get to do this with him. While I didn’t like getting up early every day, I liked that I got to do something when I was in fourth grade that only older guys got to do. I was ahead of everyone else in my class. I still remember serving 50+ years later. I think it helped to talk about this and similar experiences when dad was dying with dementia.”

Mason, son of Brian and Candi Hatch, is in seventh grade. He shared a similar perspective as my brother, telling me: “I think it’s cool. I like serving with my dad and hope to get to serve with my younger brother and sister someday. I thought it was cool when I saw older kids serving; I wanted to do it, too.”

Brian also served when he was younger and teased Mason that he, Brian, was probably better at it! So, Mason asked, “Why don’t you serve with me?” Brian considered Mason’s question and thought, why not. They went through training together. Brian said, “I was taught to serve by my parents. Candi and I want to instill the idea (in our children) of serving others, God and the community. What a good way to continue this practice, but to serve with Mason.” He continued, “I hope to encourage other parents to serve with their children at church.”

Brian works in the Marion County Road Department, serves as mayor of Knoxville and as a member of the Knights of Columbus. Mason sings with the adult and children’s choirs at St. Anthony and recently started serving as one of its cantors. Additionally, he has been a member of Knoxville’s community chorus. In 2017 he performed as Oliver in the musical “Oliver Twist” produced by the community’s theater group (KACT). Mason is encouraged and supported by his family and the community.

It takes a strong and encouraging family to share not only time with their children but the willingness to teach and work with them. Sometimes it takes a new question to change a perspective about how we think and to consider doing something that isn’t usually done.
That question can be asked by anyone at any age. My dad opened the possibility of my brother serving with him; Mason asked his dad, Brian, to serve with him. What question might open your heart to serving in a special way for God, your family, community and yourself?

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