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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 1st March 2020 Posted on Sunday 1 March 2020

First Sunday of Lent
I am pleased to announce that we have a new assistant priest appointed to serve the Cathedral – Fr Christopher McCoy. Fr Chris will be saying his farewells to the parishioners in St John Fisher, Knowsley and St Columba, Huyton this weekend and will begin his ministry at the Cathedral from next weekend.

During the course of his priesthood Fr Chris has served in a number of parishes within the Diocese as assistant or parish priest, he was also university chaplain and as chaplain he managed the move from the Cathedral site to St Philip Neri Church, and he has also worked as a priest in Peru on the Diocesan Missionary Project Scheme. He is looking forward to being involved in the life of the Cathedral and helping with the emergency cover to the hospitals and comes with a great deal of varied pastoral experience. He will be sad to say farewell to his parishioners in Huyton and Knowsley where he has served for ten years but I know he will be glad to relinquish a lot of the burden of parish administration and take on a pastoral role as an assistant priest here.

On this first Sunday of Lent the prayers and readings of the mass encourage us to embark on this journey of Lent with generous hearts and a desire to draw closer to Christ through penance and good works. This Sunday afternoon there is the Rite of Election Service at 3pm at which Archbishop Malcolm welcomes and affirms all those adults from across the Diocese, including the Cathedral parish, who are in their final stages of preparation to be received into the church at Easter.

On Tuesday evenings at 6pm we have a series of Lenten reflections, prayer and practical suggestions offered to engage more fully with the opportunities that the season of Lent offers us. Also on Fridays in Lent there will be Stations of the Cross after 12.15pm mass and the usual period of exposition from 4-5pm. Archbishop Malcolm will preside at the Chapter Mass at 12.15pm on Tuesday in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Two new Diocesan Canons will be installed at the mass – Frs Michael Fitzsimons and Sean Kirwin – and they will be appointed as members of the Chapter along with Canon Aidan Prescott, who is at present an honorary Canon.

A few people have raised concerns to me about the spread of the coronavirus asking whether any measures should be taken to prevent the spread of virus infection in church services. At present the advice from the Bishops Conference still stands –that is that there is no need for the chalice or the sign of peace to be suspended. However it may be better rather than shaking hands simply to turn to our neighbours and wish them the sign of peace verbally for the time being. The advice also emphasises some general rules of good hygiene which help to disrupt the spread of any virus or infection which we would do well to bear in mind. If you have a cold or flu symptoms of any kind you should refrain from taking communion from the chalice and receive the sacred host on the hand only. We have been given strong reminders generally of the importance of washing our hands frequently and sneezing into a tissue. Finally a reminder that Ministers of the Eucharist should wash their hands or use sanitiser before mass in preparation for distributing Holy Communion.

Next Friday is Family Fast day. There will be a retiring collection at masses next week to support the work of Cafod.

Canon Anthony O’Brien
Cathedral Dean