St. Wenceslaus welcomes help from seasoned altar server

| Julie Pfitzinger | June 8, 2011 | 0 Comments

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Altar Server

At the end of a school Mass June 2, Father Kevin Clinton, pastor of St. Wenceslaus in New Prague, honors Aaron Seurer for 20 years as an altar server at the parish. Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Aaron Seurer will be observing a unique anniversary next month at St. Wenceslaus in New Prague. As an altar server at his parish for the past 20 years, Aaron, 32, has made an impact on the parish community in ways he may not fully realize.

The youngest of eight children, Aaron was born with Down syndrome. When he was 12 years old, after observing his six older brothers serve at the altar at St. Wenceslaus, he indicated to his parents that he was ready to step up and take his turn.

“My husband Roman and I always treated Aaron just like our other kids,” said his mother, Noreen. “We wanted him to be involved in normal activities.”

Since that time, Aaron has volunteered as an altar server on rotating Sundays and at the weekly Thursday 8 a.m. Mass. Rain (and occasionally snow) or shine, he climbs on his bike and rides the two blocks from his home to the church, frequently arriving by 7:30 a.m.

“He beats me there every once in a while. We trade off,” said Father Dave Barrett, associate pastor, with a smile.

Reception set for July 10

During an all-school Mass on June 2, Aaron did double duty as the school community took the opportunity to commemorate his 20th anniversary milestone. (On Sunday, July 10, St. Wenceslaus will hold a parish-wide reception in Aaron’s honor).

In addition to his role as an altar server that day, Aaron and two eighth-grade students, Maddie O’Neill and Francesca Gliori, also brought up the gifts to the altar as the congregation sang “Be Not Afraid.” Once back at the altar, Aaron quickly resumed his role as server.

“Aaron likes working with the younger servers. He likes to train them in,” said Noreen, adding that her son’s favorite part of being an altar server is carrying the cross.

Father Kevin Clinton, pastor at St. Wenceslaus, admires the commitment Aaron has brought to altar serving for the past 20 years, along with the “reverent and respectful” example the pastor said the young man sets for the other servers.

“I am struck by the focus Aaron has. He is very centered and while he doesn’t say much, it is clear this is very important to him,” Father Clinton said. “He is very proud and eager to help.”

An important presence

Father Clinton also believes Aaron’s presence at the altar resonates in another way as well.

“Going to church and being part of a worshipping community is not complicated. You do not have to be a theological genius to be part of the liturgy,” Father Clinton said. “Sometimes we make it so complicated that we forget how simple and how important worship is. I believe Aaron knows that.”

In addition to his role as an altar server, Aaron has three jobs. He works at the Fishtale Bar and Grill, a restaurant in New Prague; at the local Coborn’s grocery store and for New Options in Shakopee, which provides vocational opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Aaron is also a Special Olympics athlete and has competed in volleyball, bocce ball and bowling.

Aaron and Noreen, who was widowed 14 years ago, live together in the family home. Noreen is semi-retired, but still works as a volunteer coordinator at Queen of Peace Hospital and is in charge of the hospital food shelf, where Aaron also helps when needed.

“Everyone knows Aaron in this community and he knows everyone,” said his mother with a laugh. “We’ll be walking down the street and people are always saying ‘hello’ to him.”

One of Aaron’s favorite stops after serving at Mass is Patty’s Place, a diner on Main Street, where he has a regular chair. When asked about his favorite item on the menu, Aaron smiled broadly and didn’t hesitate with his answer: “Blueberry scones.”

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Category: Good News