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.