Tuesday, 30 September 2008

October Diary

October heralds one of our greatest feasts of the year: the Dedication of the Cathedral. 149 years after its consecration to God, this year the feast is celebrated on 5th October. Both of our diocesan bishops will be joining us for Mass at 10:30am and for Vespers at 4:40pm. Other highlights of the coming month include the beginning of a new catechetical programme, 'Curious about the Eucharist?' (more information here) and an evening with Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein (more information here). For a closer look at October's diary, click here.

Monday, 29 September 2008

More behind the scenes

Today we received a number of excellent pictures from the 'Lancaster Unlocked' days, reported earlier here. These pictures are from George Coupe, a local photographer who was working on behalf of the city-wide event's organisers. Above, a couple admire the view over Morecambe Bay.

Here, the Cathedral's John Rogan gives some expert information on the bells, inside the tower.

And in the Pastoral Centre, Cathedral events organiser Caroline Hull takes a group on a behind the scenes tour. All in all the weekend was a great success, both for the Cathedral and the city. Hopefully it will be the first of many.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Diocesan Education Mass

Last night the Cathedral hosted the annual Education Mass. Each year teachers, school governors, catechists and others involved in education around the Diocese are invited to come together for Mass. At the start of a new academic year, they entrusted the coming months to God's providence and asked for His guidance.

The Mass was organised by the Diocesan Education Service, which gives advice to Catholic schools within the Diocese, assists with the appointment of governors and teachers, offers the CCRS course for Catholic teachers and provides ongoing adult formation. The Education Service is based in buildings adjoining the Cathedral.

Fr Luiz Ruscillo, who is Director of the Education Service, preached at the Mass. In his own animated style, he gave a clear, simple message: to be a good teacher, one must be prepared to also be a good learner. He also spoke of Bishop Patrick's recent 'Fit for Mission?' documents, saying that they are a clear lesson in applying the Gospel to the life of the Church.

It was wonderful to see the Cathedral packed for this Mass; it is a sign of the great commitment to Catholic education in our Diocese.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

A blog from the Cathedral School

Alongside this blog which features every aspect of parish and Cathedral life, blog fans can now keep right up-to-date with events at the Cathedral Primary School, which has just launched its own weblog. It's early days of course, but there is already plenty to see - click here to visit the new blog.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Fit for Mission? Church

This is a familiar sight at Cathedral House in recent years: the Bishop sat at his desk with pen in hand, responding to letters or writing documents. His latest offering is part of the Fit for Mission? series and is an initial response to the proposals submitted by the Diocesan Mission Review team earlier this year. The document, called Fit for Mission? Church has been circulated to parishes and will soon be published by the Catholic Truth Society (CTS), whose website can be found here.

Now this document has been commended by the Holy See, with a letter from Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, Secretary of the Congregation for Clergy. He describes the document as "an effective, practical instrument for advancing the much heralded New Evangelisation. If this renewal of the Faith is to take root, it cannot remain a mere 'slogan' but must be woven into the web of contemporary culture. Fit for Mission? Church gives much needed indication as to the means of accomplishing this great mission of the Church."
A scanned version of the letter is seen here. Click on the image to enlarge it. The full press release from the Bishops' Office may be seen as a MS Word document by clicking here.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Behind the Scenes

This afternoon visitors to the Cathedral had the chance to see some of the less visited parts of the Cathedral site, with two 'behind the scenes' tours and a chance to 'meet the bells'. The bell tower was a very popular venue, with a large number of people climbing the stairs to try their hand at bellringing and to see the view from the tower. Fortunately it was a very clear afternoon and the views were stunning.

The behind the scenes tours included a chance to see some of the vestments and other objects kept in the sacristy, to see how we use incense and to see inside Cathedral House. Visitors were also taken into the old convent (now the Pastoral Centre, housing diocesan offices) to see its wonderful staircase; it was designed by local architects Paley and Austin, who were responsible for building the Cathedral within a few years of the convent opening. On the first floor there is an indoor 'cloister' surrounding the staircase, as the convent had no outdoor equivalent.

Behind the Screams

Last night Cathedral House hosted an unusual event as part of 'Lancaster Unlocked', which is taking place across the city this weekend. 'Behind the Screams' was a chance for locals and visitors to hear some Victorian horror stories read in the atmospheric surroundings of the Cathedral library.

The event was so popular there were two sittings. Stories included works by Charles Dickens, M. R. James and Catholic writer (and priest) Monsignor R. H. Benson. From outside it looked the part...

...and inside the stories came to life in the hands of Cathedral parishioners.

But who would live in a house like this?

Friday, 19 September 2008

St Thérèse: the national website

Some weeks ago we announced that the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux will be visiting England next year. It promises to be a great event, with many thousands of people taking part. Her relics will be at Lancaster Cathedral over the period 28th-30th September; it will be a chance for the entire Diocese of Lancaster to take part in this national event: parishes, schools, religious communities, youth, sick and elderly... it is hoped that every group from every part of the Diocese will be represented.

Today the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, which is organising the visit, launches its own website about the event. It includes information about relics, about the life of St Thérèse and about how people can take part. There are also links to various other sites about Thérèse. You can find the new site here, and the Cathedral's own web pages on the event here.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

On Air

The Cathedral has had two dates with BBC Radio Lancashire this week. Yesterday Caroline Hull, our events co-ordinator, was a guest on the two-hour lunchtime show 'Ladies at Lunch'; today Fr Andrew climbed the bell tower with Radio Lancashire's Tim Padfield (pictured) for a short interview about the Cathedral and its role in this weekend's 'Lancaster Unlocked' open days. The interview is due for broadcast on today's 'Drive Time' show. Radio Lancashire's website can be found here. More information about the 'Lancaster Unlocked' days can be found in the Cathedral diary (click here) or on the city's tourist website (click here).

Monday, 15 September 2008

Forthcoming Concerts and Events

The programme for the Cathedral's new season of concerts and events is published today. As always, there's plenty of variety: concerts include Mozart's Requiem played by the Skipton Camerata (pictured), performed on 2nd November; Handel's Messiah with the Lancaster Singers (29th November) and the ever-popular Candlelight Baroque with the Lancashire Sinfonietta (12th December). There's also a cello/piano recital (14th November) and an operatic evening (7th November). There are also non-musical events: an evening with Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, who now campaigns against Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people (11th October) and the pre-Christmas Craft Fair (19th November). Tickets for these events are available from Lancaster Tourist Information (01524 32878) and from Cathedral House. The full programme, including times and prices, is available in pdf format here or as a standard webpage here.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

A visit to the Cemetery

This weekend various events are taking place as part of the national Heritage Open Days. One of the more unusual was a tour of the Cathedral's cemetery, which took place this afternoon.

The tour was led by Cathedral parishioners Maurice and Josie Bolton, who each have expertise in this area! Maurice oversees all the records for the cemetery and keeps the plans up-to-date - no easy task when many of the graves are not marked...

...and Josie has done much research into local history; she also deals with any family history enquiries which come in to the Cathedral. Josie was able to offer us an insight into the lives of many of the people in the cemetery, particularly those who had played a significant role in the life of the parish or the local society.

This is the stone marking the grave of Rev. Dr John Rigby, the priest who built the Catholic chapel at Dalton Square. Dr Rigby was originally buried there; his remains were moved to the new cemetery in 1860. It is believed that this stone was buried at that point; it was uncovered yesterday, so it may be being viewed for the first time in 148 years.

Watching over the tour from on high, some people on a visit to the Cathedral's tower, which was open for a time this afternoon as part of the Heritage Open Days.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

St Ambrose Barlow

Today the Cathedral will celebrate Mass for the feast of St Ambrose Barlow, who was martyred in the city on this day in 1641. He was a Benedictine priest. He visited Edmund Arrowsmith (the other canonised Lancaster martyr) in Lancaster Castle in 1628, then laboured for another 13 years, knowing that he too would have to suffer for his faith. He was offered freedom if he would not 'seduce' the people into Catholic ways any longer; to this he replied, "I am no seducer, but a reducer of the people to the true and ancient religion."

Monday, 8 September 2008

The Birth of Our Lady

Of all the great saints of the Church, few have their births celebrated in the liturgical calendar. The birth of St John the Baptist is kept on 24th June, but most saints are celebrated on the anniversary of their death. Today the Church keeps the feast of the Birth of Our Lady. It reminds us that Mary is a created human who has achieved a share in the glory of her Son. Mary's birth is also a sign of hope: her birth, like the birth of St John the Baptist, heralds the revealing of God's plan in the life and work of the Saviour. The above image, from the Cathedral's Whiteside chantry, shows Mary as a child being taught by her mother, St Anne.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Dr Dixon's resting place

Photographed just before the recent cemetery Mass, this is the grave of Dr J. H. Reginald Dixon, who served as organist and musical director at the Cathedral 1909-1971. He is a legendary figure in the life of the parish, and was undoubtedly a very fine musician. The grave stone has recently been cleaned up so that the writing can be more clearly read. This is partly in preparation for cemetery tours during the forthcoming Heritage Open Days, and partly to prepare for next year's celebrations. As we celebrate 150 years of the Cathedral building, it will also be 100 years since the appointment of this great Cathedral figure.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

A New School Year

Nestled amongst the terraces behind the Cathedral, our primary school has been relatively tranquil since the end of July. Today it returns to business as usual, as children return following the summer break. It is greatly encouraging that the number of pupils at the school continues to rise; from today the number of classes has been increased to seven to accommodate the increased roll. Alongside this rise is a firm commitment to the school's Catholic ethos and ever-stronger links with the parish. Let us keep the school in our prayers throughout the year ahead, that God may continue to bless all involved.

Monday, 1 September 2008

September Diary

The arrival of September heralds the return of a busier diary! The schools will be back in action this week, and as people return from holidays the workload again begins to pick up. In September there are a few extra events at the Cathedral: extra tours and talks are put on for the nation Heritage Open Days (11th-14th), and for local heritage days ('Lancaster Unlocked, 19th-21st). Important feasts include the Birth of Our Lady (8th), local martyr St Ambrose Barlow (10th) and the Triumph of the Cross (Sunday 14th). The Cathedral is also hosting the annual Diocesan Education Mass, which takes place on 26th of this month. To view a more complete diary for the month, click here.