Little Saint Mary’s Church, Cambridge

Catholic Societies

Religious societies and guilds have a long history in the Church of England. Before the Reformation, every parish had a number of societies and guilds, some national, many very local. These societies and guilds would often provide a continuous light burning before, for example, the aumbry or a favourite statue of the Blessed Virgin or a popular or local saint, or maybe flowers as well. They were an important focus of devotion, usually having their own office (set of prayers) that was recited in addition to the Daily Office. One particularly good example of these voluntary offices is the Little Office of the BVM, which was very popular in the late medieval period as a devotion for the laity, very often a daily one.

With the revival of Catholic spirituality in the mid-19th century, a number of societies and guilds sprang up again in the Church, many of which are still going strong today. Four such societies and guilds are represented in 21st-century Little Saint Mary's. All are very welcome to attend any of their events.

Download the Catholic Societies' complete Diary for Ely Diocese.


The Society of Mary — Ward of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
To promote devotion to the Mother of the Lord
Ward Superior: Fr Stephen Anderson (01223 843859)
Fr Stephen is Priest in Charge of LSM's neighbouring parish of St Botolph's.
All Ward events take place at LSM, and usually conclude with refreshments.

  • Tuesday 21st May at 7pm: May Devotion to the BVM
    (Preacher: Bishop Stephen Conway of Ely)
  • Friday 19th–Sunday 21st July: Weekend Pilgrimage to the Shrine of
    Our Lady of Walsingham (day visitors welcome)
  • Thursday 10th October at 7pm: Vespers & Benediction
    (Preacher: Fr Tim Harling, Dean of Queens' College)
  • Monday 9th December at 7pm: High Mass for the Feast of the
    Conception of the BVM (transferred), followed by Ward AGM

All are also very welcome at the High Masses which take place at LSM on the major Marian festivals (usually followed by refreshments):

  • Monday 25th March at 7pm: The Annunciation of Our Lord
  • Friday 31st May at 7pm: The Visitation to Elizabeth
  • Thursday 15th August at 7pm: The Assumption (LSM's Patronal Festival)
  • Monday 9th September at 7pm: The Nativity of Our Lady (transferred)

The Guild of All Souls 
To promote prayer for the departed and care for the dying and bereaved
All are welcome to all events, which are always followed by refreshments.

Chaplain: Fr Robert Mackley
More information from Bill de Quick or Julia Norman (01223 313658)

  • Tuesday 9th April at 7.30pm: Vespers & Benediction at LSM
  • Saturday 10th August at 3pm: Vespers & Benediction at St Edmund's,
    Downham Market PE38 9LF
  • Thursday 21st November at 7.15pm: Vespers of the Dead, at LSM, followed by the
    joint Catholic Societies' Requiem Mass for all Departed Members

The Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament — Ward of Our Lady & Corpus Christi
To encourage devout and frequent celebration and reception of the Holy Eucharist
All meetings take place at LSM.
Ward & District Superior: Fr Robert Mackley
More information from Paul Huskinson

  • Thursday 21st February at 8pm: Vespers of the Blessed Sacrament &
    Benediction, followed by refreshments
  • Thursday 20th June at 7pm: Pontifical High Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi at St Bene't's Church (Celebrant & Preacher: Bishop Rowan Williams), followed by street procession to LSM for Benediction and refreshments
  • Saturday 21st September at 12 noon: Annual Festival
    Sung Mass for the Feast of Saint Matthew, followed by lunch and AGM,
    concluding at 2.30pm with Vespers & Benediction
  • Thursday 20th February 2020 at 8pm: Vespers & Benediction

The Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary — Chapter of St Etheldreda
To promote reverence and fellowship among altar servers
Those who do not serve in the sanctuary are also very welcome to join as Friends of the Guild.
More information from Dr Tim Adams

  • Thursday 21st March at 7.30pm: Guild Office & Benediction at
    Saint Peter's, Broad Street, Ely followed by Chapter AGM
  • Thursday 18th July at 8pm: Guild Office & Benediction at St John the Evangelist,
    Bury St Edmunds (joint meeting with the Suffolk and Essex Chapters)
  • Saturday 7th September at 12 noon: Eastern Area Festival
    High Mass at St Mary's, Newmarket, followed by lunch (bring your own) and
    concluding with Guild Office & Benediction at 3pm
  • Thursday 9th January 2020 at 7.30pm: Guild Office, Epiphany Procession &
    Benediction at LSM

Each of these societies and guilds serves a different purpose. At Little St Mary's the membership varies; members of one guild or society are not necessarily members of another, though members of each society are strongly encouraged to attend all the other societies' events and non-members will also be made very welcome on each occasion. Each of these societies and guilds meets several times a year, either at LSM or elsewhere in the region, usually for an office, though the annual Requiem Mass of the Guild of All Souls in November also serves as the opportunity to pray for departed members of all the societies and guilds that have ever met at Little St Mary's.

Other national Catholic Societies include: