A Guild of All Souls for the Ordinariates?

Guest post by Kevin Greenlee

Among the multitude of riches which the Oxford Movement added to the Anglican patrimony was the advent of many Anglican devotional guilds and societies such as the Society of Mary and the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament. While diverse in their specific devotional ends, many of them had as their motivation the desire to restore lost devotion to the English Church and make restitution for neglected spiritual duties.

It’s my conviction that the three Ordinariates would benefit greatly from bringing versions of these societies to life within the full communion of the Catholic Church. Such societies will provide opportunities for lay members of the Ordinariate to grow in holiness while making restitution for neglected spiritual duties, and they will be a gift to the whole Church Catholic.

In 1873, the Guild of All Souls was founded as one of these societies. The purpose of the society was to further the practice of “intercessory prayer for the Dying and for the Repose of the Souls of the Departed,” to promote Requiem Masses, and to bring emphases to “the two great doctrines of the Christian Creed: ‘The Communion of Saints’ and ‘The Resurrection from the Dead.”

Individuals, priest and lay, who joined the guild would swear to take on certain spiritual responsibilities and gain certain benefits. Members would be responsible to say a written prayer for dying and deceased members of the Guild by name; to attend an All Souls Day Mass and intercede for deceased members and for All Souls; to say a monthly Litany for the Faithful Departed; and to support devotions for the Faithful Departed in their local parish. In addition to these duties, priest members of the guild would be expected to celebrate Mass at least once a year on behalf of the Guild and to offer regular Requiem Masses. Finally, all members would be responsible for arranging that notice of their death be given to the Guild.

Being a member of the Guild would also come with certain benefits. First, members of the Guild would be prayed for annually on the anniversary of their death by all members of the Guild, and Requiem Masses would be offered by priest members of the Guild for the repose of their souls. In addition, Guild members could add the names of deceased friends and families to the Guild’s roll.

To accomplish all this, the Guild took a modest membership fee and used the proceeds from the fee to publish annually a booklet containing the prayers of the Guild and the names of the deceased, as well as more regularly publishing information about members currently dying.

I have had it on my heart for a while to bring a version of the Guild of All Souls to life within the full communion of the Catholic Church under the auspices of the Ordinariate. It is the duty of all Catholics to pray for the dead, and I especially believe it is important for those of us who for much of our Christian lives have neglected this responsibility.

I am currently looking at the process of creating an International Association of the Faithful under the name “The All Souls Guild” and am hoping to get episcopal oversight from Bishop Lopes, but I am still awaiting response from the chancery. In the meantime, I would greatly appreciate hearing from those who might be interested in joining the Guild or participating in its formation. In particular:

  • If there is anyone with knowledge of the canonical process involved in creating an International Association of the Faithful, I would greatly appreciate your expertise in putting this project together.
  • Similarly, if there is anyone with knowledge of how to set up the Guild to be able to collect membership fees and donations in a way that is legal and compliant with best practices, I would greatly appreciate your expertise.
  • It will be critical for us to have priests amongst our early adopters in order to be able to have Requiem Masses said for members. If you are a priest and are interested in being involved, please reach out to me. If you think your priest might be interested, please bring this to his attention.

If you are interested in becoming involved in The All Souls Guild, please reach out to me at ordinariatepdx@gmail.com. Thank you and God Bless.

8 thoughts on “A Guild of All Souls for the Ordinariates?

  1. The timing of this post is remarkable. Just 10 days ago a proposal to set up such an association for the Ordinariate here in Britain was approved and the process of erection is just underway. The proposed name is ‘The Chantry Guild of Our Lady of Walsingham’.
    One of our priests, Fr Ian Hellyer, who suggested the initiative is working with our Chancellor and Ordinary to work out the detail. I am sure they will be happy to share their findings in sue course.

    Fr Simon Chiney – Communications Officer, Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Priestly Society of St Augustine of Canterbury | Anglicanorum Coetibus Society Blog

  3. Within the Catholic Church, such an organization would be an “association of the Christian faithful” governed by canons 298-329. These canons are divided into four chapters: Common Norms (canons 298-311), Public Associations of the Christian Faithful (canons 312-320), Private Associations of the Christian Faithful (canons 321-326), and Special Norms for Associations of the Laity. In addition to the distinction between public and private associations and the distinction between lay and clerical associations, these canons also distinguish between institutions of diocesan, national, and pontifical right based upon the competent ecclesial authority who establishes or recognizes them (the diocesan bishop, the national conference of bishops, or the Vatican, respectively).

    As a member of the church, you have the right to found a private association for the purpose that you propose. The best way to proceed would be to recruit a few others with a similar interest to constitute an initial chapter of the association and draft proposed “statutes” (what most secular organizations would call a constitution) that meet the requirements of Canon 304 within your congregation and begin to operate thereby. Once you get the kinks worked out of your statutes, you can submit them to Bishop Lopes for recognition as a private association of the Christian faithful within the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, then begin the process of recruiting members and forming chapters in other congregations of the ordinariate. I also recommend incorporation of the organization and each chapter under secular law in each country. Formal erection as a public association of the Christian faithful can happen in due course, once the organization gains some traction and stability.

    If the organization gains traction and spreads beyond the ordinariate that starts it, the Vatican probably would elevate it to an association of pontifical right in due course. However, that should not be the immediate focus.



  4. In the Catholic Church, they tend, historically
    to be called ‘Purgatorial Societies’. Some are
    quite ancient and have a larger vocation, e.g.
    linked to Confraternities of Penitents, or Bona
    Mors Brotherhoods – assisting with preparation
    for a good death, and providing funeral cate
    for the impoverished.


  5. Yes, there has been significant progress. A first draft of publicity was felt to need some modification so it has not yet been formally launched. The underlying financial structures are, however, now in place.


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