Being an Altar Boy at Immaculate Conception Parish


I was baptized as a member of the Roman Catholic church at Immaculate Conception Parish, a few hundred meters away from home. Growing up, I hear Mass at this church 95% of the time. While we’re always looking up to our parish priest Fr Henry C. as a respectable spiritual leader in the community, he shares the church stage with young kids who assist him on communions, serving of water and wine, or carrying the Bible Missal.

As a sixth grader, such sight was something to behold: white cassocks, behaved composure, and popular to girls that was something I could bear. The thing I’m not sure of is how I can handle being in front of hundreds of parishioners on a Sunday mass. The mere effort of going on stage to have my ribbon pinned by my mother was sort of monumental task already, let alone perform folk or modern dance without innate talent could invite disaster for me (and entertainment to everyone else).

But enough with the shyness. I wasn’t alone in the classroom who had the interest in becoming an altar boy. Rodel G. and Jergen S. also wanted to become one. So one Wednesday we heard mass and afterwards approached the altar boy and told him of our intentions. We were informed that the next “recruitment” comes early school year, just in time when we’re incoming freshmen at Holy Cross of Mintal. Until recently, I still kind of played some options where to study in high school. I was awarded full scholarship at UM Guianga Junior College for topping the entrance exams. However, should I pursue this full scholarship, I need to commute from home to go to school. When I was offered another full scholarship from the Relief Association of Southeast Asia to study at Holy Cross of Mintal, the decision has been made.

Our altar boy group photo, taken during my freshman year. Photo credit: Rico Pulanco.
I didn’t play around thoughts on the mechanics and procedures of being an altar boy until two months later. During summer, my sister, a cousin and I attended Sunday sessions as members of Legion of Mary. We had our prayer meetings at the church vicinity, and I couldn’t help but observe the church altar, the altar boy seats and what’s beneath that big stone book.

By June, it seemed that our interest in joining the Knights of the Altar Society, as the organization was called, was overwhelmed by the new environment I experience at Holy Cross of Mintal. We now wear uniforms, sing To Christ Through Mary every morning, and met a lot more new faces coming from all corners of our political district. But it didn’t mean our willingness to become altar boys waned. During the first few weeks of school, everyone was encouraged to join various clubs. Science clubs for science geeks enthusiasts, English and Dramatics Club for those who have been doing declamation as talent, Herodutos for those… I don’t know, forget about it. Sr Violeta T. called for interested students who wish to serve the mass (at the time a very attractive recruitment approach) and almost half of the boys in St Agnes class signed up. We had regular meetings presided by the club president we call Kuya Lagang. Eventually those who joined for the joyride evaporated and the remaining ones

One of the most “exciting times” as an altar boy was to join the pilgrimage to different barangays under Immaculate Conception Parish and bring with us statue of the Holy Infant of Prague for parishioners to kiss the image. Along the way, we visit small villages for the first time, get chased by dogs and later on accused of stealing from the donation box. My first “assignment” was at Mintal Relocation (now Barangay Sto Nino), Bago Oshiro and Catalunan Grande. It was purely a voluntary basis but I recall almost everyone joined. For me, I just want to ride the jeepney going somewhere, devoid of fear of getting lost. When the three-day event culminates at the Holy Innocents Day, we gather at the convent and enjoy a few scoops of ice cream with the parish priest and seminarians. I imagine how simple our dreams then.

One of the highlights of being an altar boy is to join the Davao City diocese wide “convention” where we meet (actually more of compete) altar boys from other parishes at the St Francis Xavier Seminary in Catalunan Grande at the beginning of the year. We hear the mass, listen to the concert featuring seminarians, present our numbers and play various parlor games. One bonus of joining this annual event is we each get a nicely printed shirt we will be wearing on special functions the rest of the year.

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