I know that different parishes have different roles for the crucifer. In our parish, the crucifer carries the cross in the opening and closing procession, and in the Gospel procession. In addition, the crucifer is the person who assists the priest in setting the altar for the Eucharist.
When I moved to this little town and its parish, only kids got to be acolytes or crucifers.
But not too long after I arrived in Missouri, the priest recognized that he couldn’t get kids to show up reliably for the 8:00 Sunday service, so he opened the ministry of crucifer to adults. I jumped on it! And I began attending the 8:00 service, just so I could serve as crucifer.
Of all the things I do at church, serving as crucifer is the ministry that means the most to me. I cannot quite say why. I know this: It feels like holy stuff to lead the procession and to assist the priest in setting the altar. I love standing alongside the priest as the elements are consecrated. As I assist the priest, I have a sense that this is how I would like to serve God. There is humility and holiness there.
Once I began attending the 10:30 (Rite II) service, instead of the 8:00 (Rite I) service, I no longer got to be in the regular rotation. I only got to serve as crucifer when the kids were on a mission trip or were otherwise unavailable.
I remember a Christmas Eve service a couple of years ago. I served as crucifer at the 5:30 service, as scheduled. But I went back to church for midnight mass. I wanted to worship; but in my heart of hearts, I also wished I could serve as crucifer. As it happened, none of the kids showed up to be acolyte, so I got to serve as crucifer at that most special service. But lore has arisen around the parish, that I locked all the kids in the boiler room so that I could serve as crucifer. Even now – on those high Sundays when I get to serve as crucifer – people will ask jokingly, “Have you locked the kids in the boiler room?” or "Do you plan to lock the kids in the boiler room?"
Now, with Holy Week upon us, people are already asking me, “Will you be locking the kids in the boiler room?” We shall see what must be done.