Newsletter of the District of Asia

 May - June 1999

The Archconfraternity of Saint Stephen

By John Arellano, President, Manila Chapter

The Archconfraternity of Saint Stephen is a Guild formed with the object of sanctifying the server while serving the Mass and other sacred ceremonies. It was formed in March of 1905 in England by Father Hamilton MacDonald with the permission of Cardinal Bourne, then Archbishop of Westminster. Later of that same year, it was blessed by Saint Pius X. On December 04, 1906, the same Pope erected the guild to be  an Archconfraternity with permission to establish other chapters of the Guild outside of the Diocese of Westminster within the British Isles. On February 19, 1934, Pope Pius XI allowed the Guild to spread throughout the entire British empire.

How did it come to the Society of Saint Pius X? Several years ago, in Sydney, Australia (this country belongs to the Commonwealth of Great Britain), Rev. Father Todd Angele, SSPX, came across the guild still being used by the servers in the Society Chapel. He then established his own Chapter in Melbourne and found a company to supply him with materials, i.e., medals, cords, thus, began the resuscitation of the Archconfraternity of Saint Stephen within the Society of Saint Pius X. Rev. Father Peter Scott, US District Superior, later brought it to America and immediately initiated it into the three Parishes. Now, there are more than three Parishes initiated to the Archconfraternity including the one in Hawaii. In December of 1997, in Mexico, they became the very first Chapel in the history to begin a Chapter, truly making the Guild international.

How did it come to Manila? It came through the auspices of Rev. Father Michael McMahon.  Although, the first Superior to the Philippines, Rev. Father Paul Morgan, had thought of it back in 1994. In May of 1997, before Father McMahon left Manila for England, he had appointed three servers to take care of the Postulants to the Archconfraternity, appointing myself as President. When he had left, I started to write the headquarters of the Archconfraternity in the United States, thus having Mr. Louis Tofari as the Secretary for the US, I started to send him orders with the knowledge of the District Superior for Asia, Rev. Father Daniel Couture. While waiting for the things needed for induction, we started to have frequent meetings, preparations, and practices. The day came for the Induction Ceremony to the Archconfraternity of Saint Stephen. I had to prepare everything (medals, certificates of induction, cards, etc.) needed for the ceremony. It was December 19, 1998, 9:00 A.M., when we started our one-day retreat to prepare our soul to the contemplation of the step we are going to take, “to promise to Almighty God, to Blessed Virgin Mary and to Saint Stephen, to serve reverently, intelligently, punctually and regularly having eternal salvation as our object”(Guild promise). The retreat was given by Rev. Father Joven Soliman, SSPX, the  appointed Chaplain. We also visited the Blessed Sacrament during the day as part of preparation. We finished the retreat by rehearsing the psalms to be sung during the induction ceremonies at Mass. Then came the moment we’ve been waiting for, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where we’re going to receive the exalted dignity of performing the “angelic office”, so called because the servers are the visible angels at the Altar serving the Living God and King, Our Lord Jesus Christ. So, that’s how we became one of the Chapters of the Archconfraternity. The first ever in the Philippines!

Why is it important to have a Guild like the Archconfraternity? It helps us to come closer to the source of all graces, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To be like the good angels led by Saint Michael, that is, to serve God. It develops a deeper contemplation on the Sacrifice of the Cross. The soul is nourished by frequent reception of Our Lord in Holy Communion. “To serve at the Altar… is next to the Priesthood the highest privilege which a layman can enjoy”(a quote from Cardinal Griffin’s Preface). It also develops devotion in the soul. It helps us to become more devout. The children (boys) develop good behavior at an early age. Their souls are fed with doctrines in the Catechism and nourished by serving the Mass. Their innocence are kept having the knowledge of what is right and wrong. “What you sow, you reap,” says the Lord. Therefore, if you sow in this kids the knowledge of God, that is through catechism and serving Mass, and they grow with it, expect good Catholics and good vocations in the future.

What do we servers do as members of the Archconfraternity of Saint Stephen? Here in Manila Chapter, we have Monthly meetings and Liturgical practices (this is done every first Saturday of the Month). However, I can also be available by appointment. We have our own bulletin board where the schedule is posted, where activities are featured, and where announcements are placed. At least once a year, we (should) have a recollection and a camp (others can join, of course! This is on May 16 to 22, just see Fr. Griego or me at the basement office) aside from small recreations. We, most of all, appreciate the beautiful ceremonies of the Catholic Church  which is the expression of the mysteries of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Who may join the Archconfraternity? “Membership is open to any boy or man, without any limit of age, who can serve Mass, and who has the desire to conform to the objectives of the Guild”(Handbook). To serve reverently, intelligently, regularly, and punctually are the basic objectives of the Guild. We are encouraging the boys and men alike, of the Parish, to join us to serve Our Lord and stay with Our Lady at the foot of the cross by serving the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!

The Archconfraternity exists for the sanctification of the server and the salvation of his soul. Catholic organization like this helps build the society by promoting the sacramental value of the Holy Mass. It promotes the Mass, the source of all graces, the glory of the martyrs, our consolation here on Earth, and the foundation of the eternal truths.  Alas! A stumbling block to the enemies of Holy Mother Church.  After the destruction made by Vatican II, why did it not die? Certainly, because the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will never die. The Holy Mass and the Archconfraternity go together, they are inseparable! And, of course, the prayers of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr, one of the First Seven Deacons (Acts) to shed blood for Our Lord Jesus Christ, are so efficacious before God. He would never allow a Catholic organization dedicated to his name go on extinction. The Archconfraternity, therefore being a witness to the tradition of Our Holy Mother the Church, will help us think of the great value of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, how to love the Mass, how to treasure it, and most of all, how to defend it at all times. God wills that the Mass and Guild should continue and thanks be to Him for having them here in Our Lady of Victories.


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