Every year the Archconfraternity of St Stephen holds a special dinner. 2005 was rather special as the guild were celebrating their Centenary. The date was set, the Papal Nuncio - His Excellency Archbishop Faustino Munoz was due to be the Guest of Honour - so a central London hotel - The Tavistock - was chosen and invitations went out.
The finance committee were very keen to support our older servers, so it was agreed that some of the cost for this special evening would be found for those youngsters who were mature enough to go. So it was that on the evening of November 11th Mr Michael Waterford, Fr Dennis and 8 of our youngsters set out on the tube for central London.To say that a good time was had by all would be no exaggeration, but don't let me tell you about it, read on and see what one of the servers thought!
As you know, the Guild of St. Stephen has held a series of events to celebrate its centenary- a Cardinal's Mass and a pilgrimage to Walsingham. However, the Centenary dinner held in the Tavistock Hotel, London, was a fabulous occasion. Of course, with it being a "black tie optional" occasion, all of our servers who attended were turned out in their "Sunday best" and looked very handsome.
After a spot of mingling in the bar, we took our places for a marvellous dinner of prawn cocktail, consomme with julienne vegetables, rack of lamb with a selection of seasonal vegetables, red wine gravy and a gorgeous herb crust, followed by profiteroles and ice cream. The dinner was tucked into with much gusto, leaving many waistbands uncomfortably tight for the duration of the speeches that followed during the after dinner coffee!
Our servers glowed with pride and enthusiastic applause at the sight of our very own Father Dennis at the high table! He even said grace! A few of our party were pleased to see the prayers for grace written on the back of the menu- not having been to one of these events before, we were convinced it would go on for "so long the food will go cold!" However, we were all thankful that we came in a group of roughly the same ages- we only managed to meet two other servers our age. Disgraceful! Young servers- we know that you're out there- we've seen you all at Westminster masses and the like- where were you! You missed out! We expect to see you all there next year or else!!
The Papal Nuncio was pleased to see us young people and even gave us an impromptu photo shoot! He was an excellent speaker and a lovely man. He took the trouble to greet us all individually- and Siobhan even got a blessing! She was so pleased she declared she "wouldn't wash her forehead ever again!"
The servers were all so well behaved during the event (there's a first time for everything!) and the best summary comment was probably from Christina-"If we were to be invited again I would love to go. It was a great evening!" So to all those young servers who didn't attend, make up for it by attending the Mass for altar servers in Westminster Cathedral on the 11 February 2006 at 2.30 pm.
Thanks Daniella for this wonderful and entertaining article.
Certainly it was a marvellous evening and one that, we hope, will continue to encourage our young altar servers to keep on with their service at the altar. Truly we are very blessed to have such youngsters among us and we need to do all that we can to encourage them and support them. I hope you enjoy the rest of the photos that have been included - certainly they show that one and all had a good time!!
Centenary Dinner - Photos