For the opening of the Cathedral last Wednesday Archbishop Malcolm stood outside, said a short prayer and banged on the closed Cathedral doors. Thankfully he was heard from inside and the doors then slowly opened and the bells rang out for a short period to signal that the Cathedral was open once again for people to come and pray. There have been a steady stream of people in and out of the building over the last few days to light a candle and to pay a visit. We are now looking forward to having our first public celebrations of Mass from next weekend 11/12th July.
To enable safe distancing and to be able to accommodate everyone all our Masses will be celebrated at the High Altar for the time being so that we can utilise the full space of the Cathedral. The weekend Masses are at different times from our normal scheduled service programme with a Vigil Mass at 4pm on Saturdays and 9am and 11am on Sundays beginning from 11th July. There will be just one Mass each weekday at 12 midday starting from 13th July. During times that the Cathedral is open the Cathedral priests will be present within the building as much as possible if anyone needs to talk to a priest or would like confession. It is not possible for confessions to be heard in the confessional at present for the safety of both priest and penitent so this will only be possible within the main Cathedral space.
The only entrance will be through the main Cathedral doors, if you are using the car park you will need to walk up to the Cathedral using the path through the Cathedral Garden – apart from those who are not able to manage this. If you are attending Mass you will need to wear a face covering. There will be social distancing within the Cathedral and a one way system for movement inside the building. Only the priest will receive at the appropriate time for communion and we have been instructed that the congregation will be invited to communicate after the final blessing and dismissal so that they receive and then make their way out of the building. It will be a major job to clean down the Cathedral congregational area in between Masses so we will need a good hour between the two Sunday morning Masses for this.
We have produced a leaflet with all the above information – please click here to view it.
I apologise if all this sounds very instructional but by having these procedures in place we want you to be assured that we are doing all we can to make the Cathedral environment as safe as we possibly can. I recognise that many of our regular congregation may still need to remain safely at home at this time and we will still be streaming the 11am Sunday Mass online. However I am really looking forward to welcoming many of you back to the Cathedral and once again experiencing the church coming back to life with the public celebrations of Mass.
Canon Anthony O’Brien