Photo by Fr Francis
The Acolyte is instituted to serve at the altar and to assist the Priest and Deacon. In particular, it is for him to prepare the altar and the vessels, and if it is necessary, as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, to give communion to the faithful.
In the ministry of the altar, the Acolyte has special duties, which he alone ought to perform. The functions of the Acolyte are to carry the cross in procession, present the book to the priest or deacon whenever necessary, prepare the altar at the Presentation of Gifts, help the priest in receiving the gifts of the people; and assist the priest in incensing.
A formally institued Acolyte helps the Priest or Deacon to clean and arrange the vessels after Communion. In the absence of Deacon, the Acolyte carries the sacred vessels to the side and purifies, wipes and arranges them in the customary manner.
The Acolyte plays an important role ensuring that everything is ready to go for Mass. For example, have all the EMHCs arrived, are there collectors and so on. Entry to this ministry is usually by invitation of the Parish Priest.