The hard work, dedication and commitment of altar servers across the Archdiocese has been celebrated at St Chad’s Cathedral, the Diocesan Mother Church.
The annual Mass of Thanksgiving for the Guild of St Stephen was celebrated by Bishop David Evans on Saturday 7 October and included the renewal of servers’ promises.
Around 300 people, made up of altar servers and their families, gathered for the occasion.
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.
The objectives of the Guild are:
• 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.
Altar servers aged from seven to in their 80s attended Saturday’s event.
Serving on the Sanctuary were altar servers from Our Lady of the Angels, Nuneaton, and the largest group of altar servers (20) represented SS Mary and Benedict, Coventry.
In his Homily Bishop David spoke of Our Lady of the Rosary:
Today’s gospel and the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles relate the first and last occasions in the New Testament when Our Lady is mentioned by name. There are other places later in the bible that mention a woman, whom the Church interprets as being Our Lady.
The first texts record events that happened during Our Lady’s life on earth – the Annunciation and her being united in prayer with the Apostles after Jesus’ Ascension. The later texts point to what happened at the end of Our Lady’s life – her Assumption and her being crowned Queen of Heaven. These also provide us with the early and later Mysteries of the Rosary.
In between we meditate on Mysteries of Our Lord’s birth and public life, especially now that the Rosary includes the Mysteries of Light.
In the accompanying Mass booklet the number of Guild of Saint Stephen Medals awarded in 2022 is outlined:
Silver Medals – 23
Silver Medals of Merit – two
Gold Medals of Merit – two
Along with Anniversaries of Affiliation to the Archconfraternity of Saint Stephen:
Ruby (40 yrs) – Six churches
Gold (50 yrs) – Four churches
Diamond (60 yrs) – Four churches
Platinum (70 yrs) – Six churches
Huge congratulations to all!
The Archdiocese of Birmingham Guild of St Stephen is administered by the Diocesan Vocations Office.
Together with the Kenelm Youth Trust (KYT) the Vocations office will be hosting a retreat for altar servers – Called to Serve – in March 2024.
This is the first ever weekend retreat for altar servers in school years 5-13, and their parish leaders, and will be held at the diocesan youth retreat centres Alton Castle and Soli, in North Staffordshire.
More details will follow in due course.