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.
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.
O God, you accept our ministry and allow us to serve at your Altar; grant that while serving you we follow the example of our Patron, St. Stephen, the first martyr, and that we may, like him, come to see Jesus standing at your right hand in the kingdom of heaven. We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.
The name Stephen means "crown", and St Stephen was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian Church. The Apostles had found that they needed helpers to look after the care of the widows and the poor. So they ordained seven deacons, and Stephen is the most famous of these.
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.