After more than 30 years without youth servers, St. Joseph, Hayward, has 38 youths trained to participate in the Mass. Fr. Gerard Willger recently recognized them for their service. (Submitted photo)

Altar servers from St. Joseph, Hayward, received certificates and pins for their service at a recent Mass.

“Why is this significant? The parish did not have youth altar servers for over 30 years,” said Fr. Gerard Willger, pastor. “We are making an effort for more youth to be involved in the parish and in the liturgy.”

“When the parents bring in the child to serve, they also attend Mass,” he observed. “Thus, we have an increase in Mass attendance for our families.”

Hayward is sometimes viewed as a retirement community, the priest said, “yet, as you can see, we have many active youth at St. Joseph Parish.”

Thirty-eight youth trained as altar servers, he said, and 16 teens attended Extreme Faith Camp.

“The servers also wear traditional garb,” Fr. Willger said. “The boys wear a cossack and surplice, and the girls wear an alb with a blue scapula depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is to respect the complimentary roles boys and girls have for each other,” he added, and it also encourages them “to think about a possible vocation to the priesthood or religious life.”