The Government has developed a habit during this period of social isolation of making announcements on Saturday and Sunday evenings for us to wake up to the next day. The decision regarding the opening up of churches for private prayer was just such a late night announcement which caught most of us by surprise on the Sunday morning. Most of the Diocesan effort this week has been on making decisions regarding a limited number of parish churches that should open at first from this coming week and making sure that they have the safeguards and facilities in place to enable those who visit to do so safely. The two churches in our South Liverpool Deanery which will open this week are St Francis, Garston and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Toxteth. Closer to the city centre, in the North Liverpool area, the nearest church is St Francis Xavier. These churches will only be open at certain times each day and these times can be found on the Diocesan and Parish websites.
With the rate of infection higher in the Northwest than in many other parts of the country the Archdiocese has adopted a cautious approach to reopening our churches to ensure that people can be assured of a safe environment when they make a visit to church. Here at the Cathedral we are now planning and looking forward to opening our doors once again on 1st July. It was decided that due to the large size and complexity of the Cathedral building we should not be the one of the first buildings to open so that we could learn from the experiences of the parish churches that were opening first. There will be a great deal of activity here behind the scenes leading up to July thoroughly cleaning the Cathedral and preparing teams of staff and volunteers to be au fait with the procedures that will have to be put in place to ensure safe distancing and safe ways to welcome and assist people once we open.
With the extra time to prepare it will also mean that we will be ready to respond straight away once the government offers us the permission to be able to have public celebrations of Mass. Like many of you I am longing to see the Cathedral open once again and the building once more coming to back to life but I am convinced that by using these next two weeks to prepare carefully and to learn from the initial experiences of others we will be ready so that all who come to the Cathedral can be assured of a safe and welcoming environment for private prayer.
We welcome Bishop Tom Williams this Sunday who will celebrate the live streamed Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi. As next Friday is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart we will also stream Mass that day at 11am.
Canon Anthony O’Brien