Funerals at the Cathedral
This week there has been an announcement from the Prime Minister raising concerns in response to increases in the infection rate of Covid in many parts of the country. Almost at the same time we were made aware that this was also the case in certain parts of the Merseyside area. In reassessing our own procedures within the Cathedral we feel that the measures in place for weekday and weekend public mass are generally working well and we are able to remain correctly distanced and have enough room for all who are attending. The congregations have also adhered to the requirements to wear face coverings etc and I wish to thank you all for your cooperation and acceptance of this even though it is both unnatural and uncomfortable for us all. The area of more concern for us here is with the celebration of funerals when mourners and bereaved families are mixing and coming into much closer contact with one another. I have listed of our requirements for the celebration of funerals at the Cathedral below so that we are all clear regarding what is allowed at present. This set of procedures has been written for the attention of all funeral directors who may be arranging a funeral service at the Cathedral, families who are preparing for a funeral here and for all staff and clergy at the Cathedral.
We all want funeral services here to be celebrated with dignity and care, in as safe an environment as we can provide and in keeping with the guidelines and restrictions that have been given by the Government and the Archbishop of Liverpool regarding funerals in catholic places of worship. We itemise below the measures that we have had to put in place which apply to all funerals taking place here at the Cathedral which will be strictly enforced. This is for the safety of mourners, funeral staff and the staff and clergy of the Cathedral.
1. All funeral services will take place within the Blessed Sacrament Chapel within the Cathedral. We are not able to celebrate funerals within the main area of the Cathedral.
2. We can only allow up to a maximum of 30 mourners who will be able to enter the Cathedral and take part in the funeral service. It would be beneficial for the immediate family to indicate in advance who will be part of that group who can take part in the service. Funeral directors will be required to indicate to our security staff the immediate family and mourners who are part of the group of 30.
3. We expect all those who will be attending the service to wear face coverings which are to be worn throughout the duration of the service. Funeral staff other than the director on the day will also be expected to wear a face covering.
4. All funerals will take the form of a Catholic Funeral Service. This is similar to a Requiem Mass but does not include the Communion Rite. There are still the opportunities for the choice of scripture readings and music to be chosen in collaboration with the priest leading the service.
5. We are only able to have sacred music and hymns sung by a cantor at present. As with all services in church we are not permitted to have congregational singing.
At present we are allowed to have services with a congregation as long as we are following the guidelines. These procedures seek to ensure that we remain within them. If we are seen to disregard the procedures we risk endangering one another and jeopardising the facility of having public worship and general visitors to the Cathedral.
Similar procedures are in place for the celebration of weddings. For Baptisms, because everything takes place within the baptistery and there is close contact during the service we are only allowing a family group of up to ten for these celebrations at present.
Canon Anthony O’Brien