Friday, May 28, 2021
Marlene Quaroni - Florida Catholic
Photography: MARLENE QUARONI | FC
MIAMI | Melanie Morejon, 18, has always been a very dedicated altar server.
“I have loved serving my church community. I feel like I’m doing something special.”
Morejon said she has not missed a Sunday Mass at her church, Immaculate Conception in Hialeah, even with COVID-19. “As an older server I have a lot of responsibilities,” she said.
Father Rolando Cabrera, Immaculate Conception’s pastor, saw Morejon’s dedication and nominated her for a 2021 altar server award from the Miami Serra Club. She was one of the 46 servers from 19 archdiocesan parishes to receive an award at the Mass, which was celebrated May 15, 2021 at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami.
“Some altar servers say the Mass is repetitive, but I feel that every Mass is different,” Morejon said. “I don’t take serving at Mass lightly. You must be very organized. I prepare the chalice with sacred hosts. I open the pages for the lectors to read and I open the Gospel page for the priest.”
Morejon said that sometimes, when she feels down, she asks the Virgin Mary for a hug and feels her presence. Because of family issues, she said she would like to be a Catholic motivational speaker and give testimony on the power of God and prayer. She is a member of Soldiers of Mercy, a youth ministry at nearby Santa Barbara Church in Hialeah. She plans to go to Barry University to study business management and public relations with a focus on advertising.
Peter T. Jude, president of the Miami Serra Club, thanked the altar servers for their participation at Mass in their parish.
“God calls us in many ways,” he said. “We need to be open to God’s call and most importantly to be good Catholics.”
Serra Club USA was created in 1935 in Seattle, Washington, to promote and foster vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life. The founders chose Father Junipero Serra, a great missionary, as their patron. Serra Club’s mission was to support dedicated priests and religious and to bring together informed Catholic lay people who understood and lived their own Christian vocations to serve.
Archbishop Coleman Carroll helped bring the Serra Club to Miami at the same time he established St. John Vianney Seminary in 1959. Miami’s Serra Club members support Miami’s seminarians and attend meetings focusing on topics of importance for Catholics and vocations. Each year, they ask church pastors to nominate dedicated altar servers to receive a special certificate of recognition.
“These altar servers have gone above and beyond in serving their parish,” said Jude. “Maybe some will choose vocations to the priesthood or consecrated life or choose married life and parenthood.”
Last year, the Serra Club mailed out the certificates because of COVID, he said. “This year, we were able to have the Mass and awards in person.”
Serving at the altar is a ritual for some families. The Cacchione family’s four boys — Maximiliano, 7, Gabriel, 11, Sebastian, 13, and Santiago, 14, all of whom received awards — are altar servers at St. Augustine Church in Coral Gables. They serve every day except Saturday. They start off their day going to Mass with their parents and are home-schooled. One is thinking of a vocation.
“I would like to be a priest,” said Gabriel. “Serving at the altar is good training. I have always wanted to be a priest or a saint.”
They sat at a table with the Vargas family at the reception that followed the Mass. The two families go to St. Robert Bellarmine Church once a month to take part in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, celebrated in Latin. A teacher there has been training the boys to serve in that tradition.
Father Matthew Gomez, Serra Club chaplain and archdiocesan vocations director, thanked the altar servers.
“This year has been interesting,” he said. “You’ve done a stellar job. Praise God that you serve at the altar. It’s an opportunity to be so close to Jesus. Why would you sacrifice sleep on a Sunday morning? Because God loves you and you are responding to his love. May your joyful ministry be an inspiration to others.”