CHARLESTON — Carson Bush was recently installed to the ministry of acolyte by Bishop Robert J. Baker during a Mass in the lower church of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Nov. 20.
A seminarian for the diocese, Bush studies at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois. Two of his fellow seminarians Robbie Robinson and Lee Selzer assisted in the recent ceremony.
Father Jeff Kendall of Sacred Heart Church in Charleston served as master of ceremonies at the Mass, which was concelebrated by Msgr. Leigh Lehocky, pastor of St. Peter Church in Columbia, and Father Dennis Willey, pastor of Nativity Church on James Island and vocations director for the Diocese of Charleston.
Also in attendance were Deacon Joseph Cahill, associate director of vocations, and Katie Ramsey, administrative assistant for the diocesan vocations office.
In his homily, Bishop Baker said that Bush, an Estill native, could have been installed as an acolyte in ceremonies at his seminary, but that he preferred to have the event conducted in the diocese. The bishop also acknowledged the presence of Bush’s mother at the liturgy.
The acolyte’s role, according to Bishop Baker, is to aid the deacon and to minister to the priests, assisting at liturgical celebrations of Mass. He is also to distribute Communion as a special minister of the Eucharist.
In extraordinary circumstances an acolyte may be entrusted with publicly exposing the Blessed Sacrament for adoration by the faithful and afterward replacing the Eucharist in the tabernacle.
“The acolyte becomes one who is close to the altar, attentive to the service of the sacred celebrations. His closeness should lead to greater reverence for the Lord of the Eucharist. Proximity to the sacred [Eucharist] should lead to inner awe and deeper faith leading to greater praise,” the bishop said.
“It should also lead to greater acts of charity — a recognition of people in distress,” he added. “As an acolyte of the church you become that Jesus who reaches out to the blind, the sick, the sinner — the one crying out from the depths of need.”
Bishop Baker called on those present to remember the parable of the Good Samaritan. It was a Levite — a man dedicated to caring for ritual celebrations at the temple — who passed the man by on the wayside. “He did not recognize the Lord in the man by the wayside because he did not recognize the Lord in his ritual actions. For him they would have been dry and sterile actions, not prayers. They were mere rituals,” said the bishop.
He continued, “When the liturgy becomes for us not a ritual action, but a true prayer, we discover the Lord behind every action. We encounter the Lord in all we do at the altar. Then we are better prepared to discover that same Lord in the people we meet and greet and serve in the course of the day.”
In addressing Bush personally at the conclusion of his remarks, the bishop said, “May this celebration of the rite of acolyte help you, Carson, to rediscover the Lord present in our prayers, and especially in the holy Eucharist, that you may bring sight to the blind, especially that inner sight — the light of faith — which the Lord will be bringing through your ministry as acolyte.”