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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 26th July 2020 Posted on Sunday 26 July 2020

This would normally have been the time of the year for the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes. Due to the current situation this has not been possible but instead a number of Dioceses, including our own, have launched a ‘Lourdes at Home’ week for those who were planning to go this year and for any others to take part in online. The Pilgrimage begins this week with the opening Mass being celebrated at the Cathedral by Bishop Tom Williams at 11am and streamed online. There is a schedule of Masses and other services daily throughout the week taking place in different churches throughout the Diocese. The only complication for accessing these is that different days are streamed on different sites. The details for the daily services can be found on the Liverpool Lourdes at Home Website.

The Cathedral choirs last sang in our Cathedral in March and since then have only been able to keep in touch with one another and have singing and theory lessons online. Also auditions for new choristers were conducted online this year. The choirs would normally have had an event at the end of the summer term to celebrate and give thanks for the past year and to say farewell to the boy and girl choristers who would be leaving the choir at this time. It was also an occasion to welcome new families joining the choir. This has not been possible this year. However, they were able to have an opportunity to say their farewells to one another over a zoom meeting last week. We have experienced a difficult few months of isolation recently and it looks likely that it will be some time before full choral music can return as an integral part of Cathedral life. We thank all those leaving the choirs this year for their service and the music department for continuing their work behind the scenes despite the restrictions that they are facing regarding live singing at present.

This last week we have been in the midst of a noisy conflict zone here at Cathedral House. Over the last few years we have had a pair of kestrels move into the city for the summer months perching on the towers of both Cathedrals and nesting at the top of our building. We also have seagulls that bring up their young on the lower flat roofs of the chapels and who swoop down on passers by passing within twenty metres of them even if they are at a different level. The kestrels despise the seagulls and the seagulls neither like nor seem to be as frightened of the kestrels as other inland birds. Most mornings there is an aerial display with the setting of boundaries and warning shrills followed by incessant seagull screeching, followed by the occasional gatherings of the local seagull gang to fly over the Cathedral tower in a show of defiant disdain. Last week a young seagull was discovered dead in the Cathedral garden. It had been living there for some days and causing a nuisance – the only suspects were Fr Philip, who was being kept awake by the constant noise it made, or one of the kestrels. Fr Philip was quickly ruled out when certain bits were found around the garden. Since this incident it seems that war has been declared by the seagulls so beware if you are venturing past Cathedral house or onto the Cathedral Precinct the seagulls are on a high state of alert and itching for a fight! My sympathies are with the kestrels, an endangered species, who rather than being a nuisance are a joy to watch in flight.

Canon Anthony O’Brien
Cathedral Dean