Those who serve at the altar assist the priest and the sacred administration of his responsibilities during the sacrifice of the Mass. Typically, they are the cross bearer, those who carry the candles for the celebration of the Eucharist, those who would assist him in the pouring of the water and the wine, the washing of the hands, the bringing forth of the bread, and the preparation of the altar. The Mass cannot be celebrated without an alter server; the general instruction of the Roman missal requires an alter server always be present at mass, to perform the responses to the priest throughout the celebration of the Eucharist. Historically it was young men who had been discerning priesthood who would serve at the Mass, but since the 90s, this ministry has been open to women as well. And in many parishes, it is not simply young boys and girls who are celebrating or administering the responsibilities of altar servers, but in many places, it is adults who take part in this sacred responsibility. Considering altar service, or talk to your son or daughter about serving the Church in this meaningful way.