by Kara Hansen
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — For 30 years, Michael Rebout has been behind the scenes of nearly every Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter here.
Whether it was ordering and arranging the flowers, setting up the altar for the priest, or serving as master of ceremonies for the archbishop, chances are, Rebout was the one responsible for it at his parish.
After he was installed by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Rebout now has the title to show for it — acolyte.
“I’ve been doing this for quite a few years without the title and was really encouraged originally by Bishop [Marion] Forst,” said Rebout. “He came to the cathedral to celebrate the Holy Thursday service every year.
“One year, I had everything set up for him and went to go sit in the congregation. He asked me where I was going and when I told him, he said, ‘Oh no you’re not. You’re going to assist me.’”
Since that Holy Thursday, Rebout has been assisting with everything from parish Masses to major feasts and holy days with the archbishop present.
An acolyte’s role is varied, but his responsibilities include preparing the altar with the chalice, water, wine, bowl, and towel before Mass begins. The acolyte also ensures the key is in the tabernacle, assists with servers, and turns lights on prior to Mass. He often carries the cross in the opening procession of Mass and assists the priest throughout the liturgy by turning pages in the Sacramentary. Acolytes can also help with Communion distribution.
“Archbishop Naumann asked about installing Michael officially as an acolyte because he has done this for so many years,” said Father Harry Schneider, pastor of the cathedral. “Becoming an acolyte is generally done as a step in seminary, but it doesn’t have to be a step on the way to the priesthood.”
Father Schneider said that while lay-persons can serve as acolytes, he was not aware of any others who currently do so in the archdiocese.
“It’s really an acknowledgement of what Michael has done and an affirmation of his work,” he said.
Rebout has been a parishioner of the cathedral since 1980 and has provided floral arrangements through his florist business since 1974. Rebout said he enjoyed serving on the altar during Mass.
“It shows a reverence to the people of what’s taking place in the liturgy,” he said.
While the needs of a Sunday Mass are pretty similar, Rebout said events like the Easter Vigil or confirmations take extra care and different preparation. Rebout said performing the work of acolyte is something he has gradually learned and acquired over the years.
“It takes a knowledge of the liturgy, how it flows, and what’s going on,” said Rebout. “All the pastors [we have had at the cathedral] have been so helpful over the years in teaching me.”
Archbishop Naumann formally installed Rebout as an acolyte during a Mass on May 16 at the cathedral.
“I’ve done this for years, but the day I knelt and made that commitment — the feeling was indescribable,” said Rebout. “When Monsignor Applegate handed me the cup it was very powerful. I really felt like I was doing something meaningful and important.”
Rebout said the day was especially moving, since his family was in attendance, including his 91-year-old father.
“I’ve been on the altar so many times and looked out into the congregation,” he said. “It was really neat to have my own family there and to see they were out there, beaming.”
Father Schneider said being made an acolyte was a much-deserved honor for Rebout.
“Michael is very much appreciated and loved here, and he is a tremendous help to me,” said Father Schneider. “On behalf of the parish, we really appreciate his ministry.”