Guild of Altar Servers, Under the Patronage of Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr

THE OBJECT of the Guild is the sanctification of the Altar-Server by teaching him that to serve in the Sanctuary is a great religious privilege, by instructing him in the manner of observing the rites and ceremonies of the Church according to the rubrics and to the decrees of the Sacred Congregation of Rites and the interpretations of the most generally accepted authorities, and by encouraging him to understand the meaning and the purpose of the ceremonies in which he takes part.


THE guild was formed in March, 1905, by Father Hamilton MacDonald, chaplain to the Sacred Heart Convent, Hammersmith, by permission of the Archbishop of Westminster, the late Cardinal Bourne, and it was blessed by His Holiness Pope Pius X in the following November.

On the 4th December, 1906, the Holy Father erected the Guild into an archconfraternity “prima primaria” having the power to affiliate to itself other similar Guilds outside the Archdiocese of Westminster in the British Isles.

On the 19th February, 1934, His Holiness Pope Pius XI extended this privilege throughout the British Empire.

Membership and Rules

MEMBERSHIP of the Guild is open to any boy or man, without any limit of age, who can serve Mass, and who has shown proof of a desire to conform to the object of the Guild. It is recommended that a server, after admission to the Sanctuary serve at least six months before being admitted to membership of the Guild. The local director of the church decides whether a candidate is eligible, and is empowered to perform the ceremony of enrollment according to the form prescribed on page 61 and to invest the server with the Guild medal. The medal and cord, and also the Guild handbook, may be obtained from the General Secretariat.

Every member on enrollment promises to observe the following RULES:

  1. To serve at the Altar reverently, intelligently and punctually
  2. To make the short acts of preparation before, and of thanksgiving after, serving Mass.
  3. To observe silence in the sacristy, and great reverence in the Sanctuary.
  4. To recite daily the Guild prayer.

Postulants and members are recommended to receive Holy Communion as often as possible, particularly when serving Mass. Enrolled members should always wear the Guild medal when serving.

Unless taking part in the ceremonies, members are recommended always to use a missal when assisting at Mass.

Constitution and Organization

The Archconfraternity is divided into local chapters. At the head of the chapter is the Director, who is a priest.

The director oversees the whole chapter, leads the regular meetings, and enrolls the members into the Guild. The Director should appoint a lay President of that chapter, who directs meetings and practices in his absence.

The President should be a server who knows the serving rubrics thoroughly, has the ability to coordinate the other servers and is capable of serving as Master of Ceremonies for the more complicated ceremonies of the Church. The President is responsible for preparing a regular serving schedule and should also directly oversee the servers in their training and in their observance of the Guild rules.

The Guild's System of Promotion

The serving ranks within the Archconfraternity

Postulant. The Postulant is one who has the desire to join the Guild. He begins learning his Latin responses and the movements for Torchbearer at High Mass and 2nd Acolyte at Low Mass. The probation period is dependent upon the individual server’s ability, though six months may be recommendable. When he has been admitted and enrolled into the Guild, he is done so as a Junior Acolyte.

Junior Acolyte. The requirements for having the rank of Junior Acolyte are as follows: He must have his Latin responses mastered, knows in detail how to serve as Torchbearer at High Mass and 2nd Acolyte at Low Mass and must have successfully passed a test regarding these positions. The Junior Acolyte wears a plain red cord with a pewter medal and upon enrollment is presented with a certificate of enrollment.

Senior Acolyte. The Senior Acolyte must know how to serve in detail Low Mass by himself, as well as the position of 1st and 2nd Acolyte and thurifer at High Mass and must have passed a test regarding these positions. The Senior Acolyte trades the plain cord for the red cord with tassels, but retains the pewter medal.

Master of Ceremonies. The MC must have proven his reliability as well as his fidelity to the rule of punctuality, intelligence and reverence while serving, must have a thorough knowledge of all the serving positions at Low Mass and High Mass and must have passed a test regarding the position of MC at High Mass. The MC trades his pewter medal for a gold medal, and retains the red cord with tassels.

President. The President wears a two-tone, gold and black medal with the red cord and tassels.


With the object of increasing the fervour and devotion of members of the Guild, the Holy Father, on the 22nd May 1906, granted the following indulgences:


  1. On the day of admission.
  2. On the patronal feast of the Guild, 26th December.
  3. At the hour of death.

II. AN INDULGENCE OF SEVEN YEARS AND SEVEN QUARANTINES (Forty Days) on each of the following feasts:

  1. Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, 27th December.
  2. Saint Joseph, 19th March.
  3. Saints Peter and Paul, 29th June.
  4. Saint Michael, 29th September.

III. AN INDULGENCE OF 300 DAYS every time a member before serving Mass recites the prayer: Direct, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our actions (p.6).

In England and Wales an INDULGENCE OF 200 DAYS may also be gained every time a server recites the Guild prayer: O God, Who dost graciously accept the ministry of Thy servants (p.6).