Last week I had a long meeting with the co- ordinators of the forthcoming National Eucharistic Congress from the Bishops Conference regarding the elements of the events that would be taking place at the Cathedral and the concluding Street Procession with the Blessed Sacrament. We also met with representatives from the city council and emergency services to consult with them regarding the processional route and issues to be considered. September may seem like a long way off but the organisers have a great deal to do between now and then due to the range of events that will take place and the level of participation from across the country, with ten thousand taking part in the Liverpool Arena on the Saturday and possibly more taking part in the street procession and the final Benediction on the Sunday. One of the ways in which we are being encouraged to take part in the build up and preparations for this is by spending some more time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Archbishop Malcolm has encouraged parishes to have a number of holy hours over the next few months and he himself will be leading one of these within every deanery across the Diocese. There will be more information about these holy hours at a later date and there is a regular weekly period of exposition each Friday in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the Cathedral from 4 -5pm and at regular times each day at the Shrine in the city centre.
One of the major projects for the Liverpool Biennial this year is a series of 5 public artworks which also function as benches to be sited on the back precinct of our Cathedral. The artist (Ryan Gander) came up with the concept of dividing the shape of the Cathedral into a number of segments and then to involve groups of children collaborating in the design combining these shapes into abstract sculptures which can also be used as seating areas.
From these small maquettes full size concrete structures will be formed to be located in the area above the Crypt for a limited period of time with the possibility of them becoming permanent, if thought appropriate. The design process sounds like a lot of fun and I hope I can get a chance to acquire a small size kit of the segments and have a go at designing a suitable shape – it certainly would be abstract! This scheme along with one or two other matters relating to the Cathedral building will be decided on this week when we have a visit of the Historic Churches Committee, the planning authority for listed Catholic Church buildings.
One other matter relates to the organ from the Royal Hospital Chapel, no longer in regular use and which will not be required in the new hospital chapel. This has been donated to the Cathedral and the Music Department will want to have a conversation with the HCC regarding a suitable location for this within the building.
As you will have read already from other articles in the newsletter we had a meeting last week regarding a pilgrimage in September, walking the final 100 kilometres of the Camino to Santiago De Compostela. The pilgrimage element of the trip is straightforward, however there is no easy route from the north west to get to the starting point. We are still working on the means of getting there and back. In the meantime one thing that has come about as a consequence of the meeting is the idea of organising occasional walks from the Cathedral for anyone who wishes to take part and enjoy the company and the exercise and it will help some to get in shape for a walking pilgrimage. Please see the other side of newsletter for more information.
Canon Anthony O’Brien