New Processional Cross and Acolytes
It may seem during this restrictive period that there is not much happening at the Cathedral so I thought that I would just update you all with some of the things that are happening behind the scenes so that you can be assured that we are as busy as ever but having to adapt and respond to changing situations.
One of the real challenges that we are having to face is how to plan ahead when there is so much uncertainty at present. But rather than sit back defeated, we are working hard to sustain a continuing level of communal spiritual life centred around the Cathedral, particularly as we are now looking forward to Christ the King, Advent and Christmas. What we are hoping to be able to offer over the next few months will hopefully include a mix of live continuing public celebrations of Mass and online musical and meditative reflections and prayer services related to the coming months and liturgical seasons. By the end of the month we hope to publicise the schedule of services and events for the next three months.
As well as planning ahead for services we are having to have conversations with all our staff with the end of the furlough system looming on the horizon. With restricted opening hours and the continued closure of our various enterprises due to the pandemic we are facing the same issues as any other business in terms of making decisions with regard to staffing. For the last six months the Cathedral has lost at least 75% of our normal income with the cancellation of all public commercial, car park revenue and the income from the normal flow of visitors and congregations. This is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
But there is good news as well. We have received news that we have been awarded a recovery grant from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to help with a portion of our costs in remaining open to visitors and continuing our activities during this restrictive period.
The new processional Cross and Acolytes finally arrived this week. From first conception to completion it has taken almost two and a half years and has been a real labour of love for the artist who designed and crafted everything by hand. For three months many of the pieces were quarantined in the polishers in London during the lockdown and there was a concern regarding the reopening of the workshop but all is now complete. I think that the end result has certainly been worth the wait – the quality and level of detail is exquisite and they are wonderfully symbolic of and unique to our Cathedral. They will be locked away for now and used for the first time on the Feast of Christ the King.
Please remember in your prayers Monsignor Austin Hunt who died last week. He was the director of the Diaconate programme in our Diocese for over 40 years and was resident at our Cathedral for a few years in the late 1970’s. May he rest in peace.
Canon Anthony O’Brien