When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade at Immaculate Conception School in Watertown, SoDak, my teacher—maybe Sr. Virginia—sent home a dual-purpose permission slip. All the students in the class had to get the okay for a fieldtrip to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home in DeSmet and the boys had to have their parents sign off on enrolling them in training to be altar boys. I remember that both okays were on the same tear-off sheet on the same letter home.
I’m the oldest of three girls and my parents are both beautifully dedicated Catholics. And they were Catholics who believed that I should be trained as an altar boy, too. I remember my parents asking me if I was okay with enrolling in the altar boy training. At first, I said, yes, okay. And then they must have explained that it might be awkward or cause some ripples or something because I felt more hesitant. I eventually asked them not to check the box and scribble out “boy” (replacing it with girl) after altar. I remember being worried I’d be embarrassed.
It’s sad to me that I bailed on my parents’ subversive move when I was 10.
But I love that they encouraged me.
A couple weeks ago, I sat at Mass and couldn’t help but notice all of the altar servers were girls. Maybe we have come a little further in 15 years than I sometimes think!
Kate Dugan is a 28 year old Catholic living in Olympia, Washington. Last year, I earned my Master of Theological Studies and lately I’m constantly surprised by how being Catholic affects me in side-ways–its funny to me when I notice rituals in my daily life– Transubstantiation on my walk to work, Reconciliation in my new marriage, breaking bread over a barbecue grill.