First, some context. Why am I writing about Acolytes? On Sunday, my husband will be instituted as an acolyte, which is the step before (God-willing) deacon ordination.
Becoming a deacon is a process which takes time. The Church wants to be sure men are properly prepared for their eventual role as deacons in the Church. Deacons receive Holy Orders and are clergy. The order of rites to ordination are acceptance as a candidate, institution as a lector and then acolyte. There must be at least six months time between lector and acolyte institution. An acolyte wears an alb, which is a long white vestment with long sleeves, and a cincture, a rope or cord around his waist. ( Canons 1033-1035)
An acolyte has specific duties and responsibilities. Acolytes assist the Deacon and Priest at the altar and if necessary, distribute Holy Communion. An Acolyte is instituted for service at the altar. (GIRM Ch 3) He is to prepare the altar and sacred vessels. He can carry the cross in a procession and presents the thurible to the priest if incense is being used. When a deacon is not present, an acolyte takes over some of his responsibilities. The exception to that is proclaiming the Gospel. (GIRM Ch 4)
On Sunday morning one of the Bishops of Florida will place a chalice and paten in John's hands and say "Take this vessel with bread (wine) for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of his Church."
John will respond "Amen" bring him one step closer to ordination.