The Guild of St Stephen is an International Organisation of Altar Servers founded in England in 1904 by Father Hamilton McDonald when he formed a Society of Altar Servers at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in London.
In 1905, Pope Pius X gave his approbation to the Canonical establishment of the Guild at Westminster Cathedral and in 1906, the Sacred Congregation of Rites made the Guild an Archconfraternity prima primaria enabling all the parish branches to be linked with it.
The Guild spread, and in 1934, Pope Pius XI enabled all Guilds of Altar Servers throughout the British Commonwealth to be affiliated with the Archconfraternity at Westminster.
On the 22nd November 1935 the first branch was established in Nottingham Diocese and there are now over 100 Parish in the Diocese affiliated to the Archconfraternity at Westminster.
The object of the Guild is the sanctification of the Altar Server by teaching servers that to serve in the sanctuary is a great religious privilege, by instructing servers in the manner of observing the rites and ceremonies of the Church according to the rubrics and to the decrees of the congregation for Divine Worship and the interpretation of the most generally accepted authorities, and by encouraging servers to understand the meaning and the purpose of the ceremonies in which they participate.
The Guild of St Stephen aims to:
- To encourage, positively and practically, the highest standards of serving at the Church’s liturgy and so contribute to the whole community’s participation in a more fruitful worship of God.
- To provide altar servers with a greater understanding of what they are doing so that they may serve with increasing reverence and prayerfulness and thereby be led to a deepening response to their vocation in life.
- To unite servers of different parishes and dioceses for their mutual support and encouragement.
The guild promise is:
I offer myself to God almighty, to blessed Mary, our mother and to our holy patron, Saint Stephen. And I promise to do my best to serve regularly with reverence and understanding, for the glory of God, the service of his Church, and my own eternal salvation. Amen.
Constitution and Organisation
The Archbishop of Westminster is the Superior General of the Archconfraternity and he appoints a priest to be the National Director of the Guild. A lay Central Council consisting of a Lay President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and other members assists him in the running of the Guild. The Central Council is responsible for running the business side of the Guild.
Under the structure of the archconfraternity, each parish or diocese can act as a branch of the Archconfraternity of St Stephen, appointing a Diocesan director and a lay council to assist. The Diocese of Nottingham has an Altar Servers Diocesan Council responsible for the spiritual and training development of Altar Servers in the Diocese of Nottingham. Every year an Altar Servers Mass, presided by the Bishop of Nottingham takes place at the Cathedral of St Barnabas in Nottingham.
National Director: Fr Dennis F P Touw
National President: Mr Michael O’Leary
Diocesan Director: Rev. Fr. Jonathan Whitby-Smith
Diocesan Council Chair:
Below are the names of the senior servers of the diocese who also help run the Guild of St Stephen:
Rev. Fr. Jonathan Whitby-Smith Diocesan Guild Director
Fr Jonathan Rose Bishop’s Secretary and Diocesan Master of Ceremonies
James Noakes Assistant Master of Ceremonies and Guild Goods
Colum O’Shea Assistant Master of Ceremonies
Joe Hopkins Assistant Master of Ceremonies
Bernadette Hickey Assistant Master of Ceremonies
Fraser Sanders Master of Ceremonies
Joe McCay Master of Ceremonies
Daniel Leung Senior Server- Media/Website