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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 6th June 2021 Posted on Saturday 5 June 2021

New Mass times

The jury is still out whether we will be able to fully reopen in a few weeks time. The opinions expressed in the press and the media regarding the lifting of restrictions fluctuate daily switching between optimism and pessimism. Despite all this we thought it important to plan ahead for a return to more regular activities from the first weekend in July and this week I want to share with you our intended new schedule of service times in good time for the information to be distributed widely and share with others who may not have been physically attending the Cathedral up to this point.

The Saturday Vigil Mass will move to 5pm and will in normal circumstances now take place in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The change of time and location will be for a trial period. It avoids the necessity of having to move between Chapels because of events that from time to time take place on Saturdays in the Crypt. There will also be two periods of confession on Saturdays from 10-11am and 3.30-4.30pm.

Sunday Service times are as follows and only entail one slight change of time to the first Mass of the day. There will be Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at 9am, 10am Family Mass in the Crypt Chapel and Solemn Choral Mass at 11am in the Main Cathedral, which will also be livestreamed. There will be Choral Evening Prayer at 3pm which will also continue being streamed. The Final weekend Mass will be at 7pm in the Crypt Chapel.

During the weekdays from Monday to Friday inclusive there will be three Masses each day at 9am, Blessed Sacrament Chapel, 12.15pm, Crypt Chapel, and 5pm, Blessed Sacrament Chapel. There will be a short period of confessions each day after the 12.15 pm Mass except for Holydays and Christmas and Easter weeks. Morning Prayer will be recited each day 15 minutes before the start of 9am Mass. I am still waiting for confirmation from the Music Department regarding sung evening services throughout the week. There will also be a morning Mass at 9am with Morning Prayer on Saturdays.

The reception of communion will return to its rightful place in the Celebration of Mass but it will only be administered under one kind and for the time being communicants will be expected to receive in the hand. The sign of peace will remain as optional and continue as a simple greeting if included. We are still to hear whether face masks will continue to be needed within buildings and when congregational singing can return.

The wider facilities within the Cathedral and Crypt will be gradually opening up from July onwards. The more extensive opening hours for the Cathedral from 8am to 6pm will recommence from 3rd July. Bookings are already coming in for events within the Crypt and these will start to take place from the end of this month. The car park will be open each day and we hope to have a new cash and card machine for people to use. The Cathedral will be open to visitors each day with some new facilities available to welcome and provide interest. These will be available over the next few months, but this may mean that the Pontifical and other Crypt Halls may not be open to general visitors straight away.

One major disappointment is the continued closure of the Cathedral Café and Gift Shop. Early last year during the course of investigating the source of a leak within the building it was discovered that we had a major problem to the waterproof membrane that is part of the roof structure underneath all the landscaping that lies above. To resolve this fully the landscaping and layers above this membrane will need to be removed to be able to resolve the problem. As you can imagine this will have to be a major project and we are still awaiting a full feasibility report. I am not holding my breath regarding this as it will involve significant costs whatever the outcome and it will be one further headache and challenge for us to cope with. Sadly we will not be able to open any of the visitor centre until we can resolve this.

Canon Anthony O’Brien
Cathedral Dean