Phoenix parish taking steps to increase number of priests

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PHOENIX - One of the major problems facing the modern Catholic Church is the shrinking number of priests.

One parish in Phoenix is taking a small step in addressing the problem.

That parish is significant because it is the cathedral for the Phoenix Catholic Diocese, which means it is the bishop's church and the small step has to do with who can serve as altar servers.

Since the early 80's, it’s not been uncommon to see girls serving at the altar at any Catholic mass, but not here at the cathedral for the Phoenix Catholic Diocese. The rector Fr. John Lankeit is forbidding girls to serve as altar servers.

Dave Bramer is Catholic and he is also the father of two girls, ages 14 and 11, who are altar servers at a Glendale parish.

“Yes they’ve done a number of masses with the bishop over the years and they serve two masses ever Sunday at Olph in Glendale,” he said.

Fr. Lankeit imposed the ban because he feels if only boys are altar servers it may encourage more of them into the priesthood.

Bramer agrees that is logical given the effect being an altar server has had on his youngest daughter.

“When she was a kindergartner she had talked about the desire to be a nun later on so somehow we think that altar serving and serving the lord today may lead her to that vocation,” he said.

For now, Saints Simon and Jude is the only parish to ban female altar servers, which means the restriction will not affect Bramer’s daughters.

The cathedral is the first and so far only parish to ban altar girls. The diocese says it is up to each individual parish to decide who will serve or not serve as altar servers.