****    Altar Servers Training takes place every Saturday at 4.00 p.m. until 5.00 p.m. - Every Saturday for New Servers - Last Saturday of the Month for the Advanced.    ****

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Index Parish Groups Guild of St Stephen

Guild of St Stephen (Altar Servers)

Anyone who attends this church regularly, and who has already received his or her First Holy Communion can from their 9th Birthday apply to be Sanctuary Servers. Those who are interested are welcome to give their contact details to the Parish Office, The Parish Priest, The Assistant Priest or Parish Deacon who will then inform them when the next training session is due to take place.

After some initial training, they are invited to serve Mass in company with more experienced servers, so that they can gradually increase in confidence and in their ability in the various ceremonies of the Church. There will be occasions when the initial training will take place by exeperienced Altar Serves during the Mass.

The Guild was formed in Hammersmith in 1901 in the Archdiocese of Westminster. In 1906 it was promoted to an Archconfraternity.

The first branch in our Diocese was at Thornton Heath on 23rd March 1953.

Our parish became the 5th branch on 14th September 1953 (Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross).

Membership of the Guild is open to all Servers who have completed at least 6 months and shown a wish to keep the standards of the Guild. When enrolled in the Guild, at a time and place arranged by the Parish Priest, candidates are presented with the Guild Bronze Medal which they wear when serving. Previously this has been done on December 26th each year which is the feast day of St. Stephen, the patron saint of altar servers. In our Parish, those Altar Servers who are determined to be ready to be enrolled, will attend the Annual Altar Servers Rally in Aylesford sometime in May where they will be enrolled into the Guild of St. Stephen.

To give an idea of the general ethos of the Guild of St Stephen, the following is an extract from a notice in the Servers' Sacristy:

The Server: 'Who Me ... Lead Prayer?'

Young people have been serving Mass from the earliest centuries. They have helped to get things ready: assisting the priest with vestments, lighting candles, carrying the books used at Mass, ringing bells, saying prayers in practically every language known. They must have been getting up early in the morning, staying up late at night. Of utmost importance, however, is not really the things they do but the example they give.

More than anything else, the server is a prayer leader. Servers help people to pray. So, servers must ask themselves, 'What is prayer?'

To begin with, prayer is listening, listening to God. During the Mass, there's much to be listened to. There's music, the priest's prayers, the people's prayers, and especially there are the words of Scripture. All the things servers have to do during Mass cannot be a distraction to their listening. Remember, the server is part of the celebration.

The server is not like a waiter in a restaurant who stands off to the side and only helps out occasionally. A waiter is not usually part of the dinner celebration, but the server is; the server is part of the celebration, listening all the time. This is one way you pray: by listening.

If your child would like to become an Altar Server, please contact the Parish Priest or the Assist. Priest who can be reached via email, (please see contacts page) or after any of the Masses that they are attending.


The Guild Medal

The medal is worn around the neck on a red cord which reminds us that St Stephen was martyred because he believed in Christ.

In the centre of the medal are the letters XP which are the first two letters of the name 'Christ' in Greek.

At the top of the medal is the crown of victory which symbolises the reward that was given by God to everyone who overcomes evil, especially those who die for him.

When he was alive, St Stephen would have answered to the name Kelil, which means 'crown' in Aramaic, the language spoken by the Apostles and those they first preached the good news of Christ to.

At the bottom of the medal are the palm branches. These are traditional signs of martyrs who died for Christ.

Around the edge of the medal is the Guild Motto, in Latin:


this translates as:


Training for Altar Servers takes place every Saturday; 4.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Every Saturday for Amateurs       Last Saturday of the Month for the Advanced

All Altar Servers are required to receive training to be able to Serve in the Parish


© Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church 2018
A parish of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark.
CIO Registered Incorporated Charity Number 1173050.