Joshua Gereis gave his dad Jason a unique gift on Father’s Day last weekend – he was formally instituted as an acolyte alongside him in a ceremony at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Both men are parishioners at St Martha’s Strathfield, while Joshua also attends the Maternal Heart of Mary parish, Lewisham.
Joshua, a second year primary education student at Notre Dame University, is also involved with the University of Sydney Catholic Chaplaincy events and wanted to become an acolyte to help provide “the richest liturgies possible that glorify God” and at the same time evangelise to students.
The pair joined around 40 acolytes from parishes across Sydney instituted by Archbishop Anthony Fisher at St Mary’s Cathedral on 2 September – at a Mass at which the 90th anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral was also celebrated.
Also present for the occasion was Jason’s father-in-law, Bernard Moses, who is an acolyte at Hornsby Cathedral parish.
In his homily the archbishop asked the men to be “signs of God’s compassionate paternity”.
“Yours is not to lord it over others in the sanctuary or when you bring them the Eucharist; it is, rather, to lead them ever deeper in that Eucharistic love that is ‘the source and summit of the Church’s life’,” he said.
“You will assist bishops, priests and deacons in their sacred ministry, offer the most precious Sacrament to the faithful in the Liturgy, and bring that spiritual comfort to the sick and frail.
“In doing so you will unite them more closely to the Eternal Father, whom people must see in you.”
Joshua, who is also a tertiary (lay) Dominican said he felt honoured to be part of the three-fold special occasion.
“It was beautiful for me to share this moment with dad at my side and to have my grandfather there as well.”
Jason agrees that “walking and praying side by side with my son in the cathedral was very, very special”.
He has been an acolyte for 10 years and is passionate about helping with community work in the parish and looking for ways to support adult formation.
Dean of the Cathedral Fr Don Richardson said that acolytes assist priests, bishops, and deacons in liturgies and also serve as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist.
“It is a formal, stable ministry in the Church instituted by a special rite” and requires the completion of courses conducted by the Liturgy Office of the relevant diocese, he said.
“Acolytes are a great help to the parish communities and priests they serve,” he added.
Joshua said that several other young men from the archdiocese’s university chaplaincies also accepted the responsibility to assist the Catholic community as acolytes.
They are Alexander Kennedy, James Lu, Ryan Attard, and Christopher Myers.