We recently caught up with our newest priest, Fr Philip Carr, to talk about his experience of settling into such a unique and varied role here at the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Describe your first few months in three words
Busy, exciting, fulfilling.
What part of the role have you enjoyed most so far?
Honestly, meeting the people of the parish. Those who work within the Cathedral and those who worship here. Everyone has welcomed me and made me feel at home which is important for someone coming into a community from the outside. Also being able to put into practice what I’ve studied for over the past 5 years is amazing and a privilege.
Tell us about your calling into the Priesthood:
This is something that goes back a long time, apparently when I was a young boy I always said I wanted to be a priest. When I was 18 I visited Lourdes for the first time with the Archdiocese as part of the Music Group, that’s when the calling to priesthood became a conscious, tangible thing, but I never felt I was ready to make that kind of a commitment, and certainly never felt that as a person I was ready for it. So to cut a long story short, after many years of putting it off and ignoring the Lord’s call, I came to a point when I couldn’t say no anymore, I wasn’t able to ignore the voice calling me. Again, this was in Lourdes. I was 36 now, 18 years on from my first experience only this time the voice I was hearing was distinctly that of Our Lady and she was telling me that now is the time to get serious about things. This with a couple of other signs given me, I knew I had to say yes, I had to make that commitment to the path the Lord wanted me to take. So on returning to Liverpool after the pilgrimage I contacted the Vocations Director and started the process of being accepted by the diocese for priest training.
Tell us a bit about your work as part of the Hospital Chaplaincy:
I’m there in support of Fr. Stephen Lee who is the full time chaplain. I cover emergency call outs for people who are wanting the Sacrament of the Sick. It was a challenge at first as you are meeting people when they are often at their lowest, but it’s a privilege to be invited into a family, even for the brief moment you’re there, to walk with them in prayer and comfort them.
Is there anything you miss about life outside the priesthood?
I’m lucky in many respects that my life prior to becoming a priest was heavily influenced by the church, not to say all my friends are people of faith or regular church goers, but I was involved with music liturgy in my home parish and my mum and dad work as sacristan and odd job man in the parish, so it’s not unusual to have that surrounding. I don’t miss working 9-5 nor the commute into work, I don’t miss the job either! I can’t pinpoint any one thing I miss in all honesty.
What are your hobbies or interests outside the priesthood?
I play guitar and sing, enjoy doing that for fun and relaxation. Also I like to read. I’m really happy when out with family or friends for a meal and a few drinks, just enjoying other people’s company. I also love driving, some of my best thinking happens behind the wheel of the car, it’s also where I “write” some of my homilies, certainly where the seed is planted.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about joining the priesthood?
If it is something you’re thinking about, talk to someone about it, either a priest or a close friend or member of the family, let them ask questions you may not have thought about. Importantly, don’t be afraid of it. If it’s a true and genuine call from God to serve His Church, then He will walk with you every step of the way, even when you have dark days, and you will. But if the Lord is calling you to serve Him in other ways, He’ll let you know and will walk with you on that path also, but it’s important, as I found, not to ignore that call from God, at least look into it!
Tell us something surprising about Cathedral life:
I’d probably say the thing that surprised me was how quickly things become “natural” as though I’ve been doing this for longer than 3 months. Maybe that’s because it is a busy place to work, there’s a lot going on so you just do things automatically, instinctively. I also think this has a lot to do with the people who work here making me feel so welcome and as one of the team.
What would you say are the most enjoyable aspects of your role:
As I said at the start, meeting the people who work here and those who worship here has been a real privilege. Being able to celebrate mass at the Cathedral is something not every priest will experience and it’s such an iconic building, everyone knows Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, like it or loath it, it’s a recognisable and distinctive building, I love it personally and as I say, I feel privileged to be able to celebrate mass here and to be a part of this community, I hope for a good few years to come.