With the Summer holidays, then the Eucharistic Congress and the Walking Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela following one another in quick succession it has been sometime since I last wrote a Cathedral Record so a grateful thanks to the office staff for keeping the relevant ‘What’s On’ news in print during this time.
Most of the 28 Walking Pilgrims returned last Sunday with just a few of us staying on in Bilbao for a few days. Aching limbs, and blistered and swollen feet were the main after effects of the pilgrimage but it was a thoroughly worthwhile experience for all who took part. Along the way we prayed together, helped and encouraged one another, and enjoyed each other’s company with the whole group completing the journey to reach the Cathedral in Santiago in one piece. We met hundreds of people young and old from all parts of the world along the route limping, plodding or striding past with all sharing kind words and greetings to those they met and always ending with ‘Buen Camino’.
The physical and material needs of the pilgrims seemed to be well catered for along the route but our experience was that in a number of places where we stopped the local churches weren’t that welcoming (they were probably overwhelmed by the numbers of visitors). In fact it was only in one of the town churches, run by the Comboni Fathers that we received a joyful welcome and where the possibility of celebrating a Mass was not a major problem. With the numbers of pilgrims along the route the church may be missing out on real opportunities to engage with lots of young people. We attended a final Mass at the Cathedral in Santiago and saw the huge thurible in situ but didn’t manage to see it in action. It was suggested that we could possibly fit a rail onto the canopy above the altar in our Cathedral and create our own swinging thurible looping around the altar but I quickly dampened enthusiasm for that idea – our Servers do a good enough job! We were dismissed at the end of the Cathedral Mass with the fitting words ‘you have completed the camino, your pilgrimage is not ended but starts now.’
The boys and lay clerks of the choir are away this weekend in Cologne to sing in the Cathedral for a commemoration service to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The Cathedral is hosting a series of prayer events for world peace, culminating in the Sunday celebration of Mass and a peace concert later in the day. During the course of the next few weeks the whole front of Cologne Cathedral will be lit up with an artwork projection focussed on the words ’Dona Nobis Pacem’. I’m sure it will be a great experience for the choir to be part of these celebrations, I only wish I was there. The Rossall Choir, directed by our former organ scholar, Joe Watson, will sing at the Solemn Mass this Sunday.
The White Fathers have moved into the presbytery of St Vincent’s and from next weekend will be responsible for the Masses and pastoral and sacramental needs within the parish. There will be a welcome Mass on Saturday 13th September at 6pm and Archbishop Malcolm will hopefully be able to join us for Mass and refreshments afterwards in the newly refurbished presbytery to which all are invited.
The Sixteen will be in concert here next Friday evening as part of their annual Cathedral concert tours; the concert starts at 7.30pm and they will be performing pieces by Cornysh and Britten.
Canon Anthony O’Brien