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Knights of the Altar at St. James Cathedral

In this March 26th 2011 oral history interview at St. James Cathedral parishioner Tom Wilkes traces the history of the development of the altar server program at St. James Cathedral from the early 1980’s when you had a dozen servers in the ministry to the investiture of new altar servers this year with over a hundred servers in the program. Mr. Wilkes recalls the program leaders through the years and the contributions they made. He begins with local entrepreneur Tom Riggs who led the program in the early 1980’s and gave the young people discipline and training. Richard Niland provided leadership from the mid 1980’s to the early 1990’s and insisted on reverence. Then Debbie Ferrone led the way for the Investiture Service to be part of the Mass at Saint James Cathedral as it was this May 15th 2011. Kevin and Kelly Wilkes, Tom and Jean’s son and daughter, now lead the ministry. Their younger daughter Kelly who has served as an altar server since the fourth grade was selected by her peers to lead as Knight Commander this year.

Tom notes that the youth involved in the ministry are all high achievers, leaders in the community with special accomplishments in academics, athletics, club work, and community organizations. His wife Jean Wilkes sees the altar servers as the Christian leaders of the future. Tom says, “I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that the altar server program at St. James may be the best in the United States, it may even be the best in the world.” When the magisterium was here meeting in Orlando, one of the bishops from Rome told St. James Rector Fr. John McCormick, “That not even in the holy city of Rome are there altar servers that show the reverence and discipline and perfection that St. James altar servers show.” Tom says, “This is an example of the kinds of things at St. James that are so important to our families, the school, the altar server program, so many programs here at St. James are such an integral part of family life and such an integral part of the downtown, of the city of Orlando.”

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St. James Cathedral Altar Servers

November 28th, 1980 photo of the altar servers in procession at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando.

Tom Wilkes, St. James Cathedral Parishioner

In this March 26th 2011 oral history interview at St. James Cathedral parishioner Tom Wilkes traces the history of the development of the altar server program at St. James Cathedral from the early 1980's when you had a dozen servers in the ministry to the investiture of new altar servers this year with over a hundred servers in the program. Mr. Wilkes recalls the program leaders through the years and the contributions they made. He begins with local entrepreneur Tom Riggs who led the program in the early 1980's and gave the young people discipline and training. Richard Niland provided leadership from the mid 1980's to the early 1990's and insisted on reverence. Then Debbie Ferrone led the way for the Investiture Service to be part of the Mass at Saint James Cathedral as it was this May 15th 2011. Kevin and Kelly Wilkes, Tom and Jean's son and daughter, now lead the ministry. Their younger daughter Kelly who has served as an altar server since the fourth grade was selected by her peers to lead as Knight Commander this year. 

Tom notes that the youth involved in the ministry are all high achievers, leaders in the community with special accomplishments in academics, athletics, club work, and community organizations. His wife Jean Wilkes sees the altar servers as the Christian leaders of the future. Tom says, "I don't think it is an overstatement to say that the altar server program at St. James may be the best in the United States, it may even be the best in the world." When the magisterium was here meeting in Orlando, one of the bishops from Rome told St. James Rector Fr. John McCormick, "That not even in the holy city of Rome are there altar servers that show the reverence and discipline and perfection that St. James altar servers show." Tom says, "This is an example of the kinds of things at St. James that are so important to our families, the school, the altar server program, so many programs here at St. James are such an integral part of family life and such an integral part of the downtown, of the city of Orlando




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St. James Cathedral 2011 Graduating Knights of the Altar

St. James Catholic Cathedral May 2011 Revelations newsletter featuring the graduating Knights of the Altar who have distinguished themselves by years of service to their church and the Orlando community: Bobby Burnes, Sarah Delahunty, Jose DeSantiago, Cameron Karaus, Bradley Metzger, Mallory Necrason, Ben Porter, and Judy Scharf.


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