Sunday, 30 September 2007

A visit from the headmaster

At Mass this morning we welcomed Mr Brendan Conboy, the new headteacher of Our Lady's Catholic College, Lancaster. Mr Conboy took over in September and has quickly set about strengthening links between the school, the local parishes and Catholic primary schools. In his brief address, he spoke of the centrality of Christ within the school and invited people to visit so that they can see for themselves the quality of education and resources it offers. In response, Fr Stephen assured Brendan of the support and prayers of the parish for Our Lady's and all those who are involved in the provision of Catholic education. More information about Our Lady's is available on their website: click here.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Room for two

The Cathedra - the symbol of the Bishop's authority over his diocese. Although it stands physically empty most of the time, its emptiness takes on a special significance when a diocese is without a bishop. In such cases the diocese is known as 'sede vacante' - literally, an empty seat. The Diocese of Lancaster is, fortunately, not in that position, yet the search for our next bishop is now underway. Yesterday Bishop Patrick wrote to the priests and people of the diocese announcing that a 'co-adjutor' bishop is to be appointed. This bishop (who will probably be with us mid-2008) will work alongside Bishop Patrick until his retirement in May 2009. After that the new bishop will take his place on the Cathedra as sheherd of the Diocese of Lancaster. It's likely that the 'overlap' will be the best part of a year, giving the new bishop plenty of opportunity to get to know the diocese before he takes over.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Patron of the Cathedral School

Today the Cathedral School took delivery of a beautiful new statue of St Peter, patron of the parish (and therefore of the school). It is a fine piece of work, with a clarity that will help the children recognise our patron. Apart from the very youngest in the school, the children know that St Peter was a fisherman; they will also recognise the keys, seen on the school logo and in so many places within the Cathedral church.

The statue has been placed on a prominent thoroughfare in the middle of the school, right outside the headteacher's office. Miss Goddard was keen for the statue to be in place before the forthcoming open days (tomorrow and Tuesday 2nd October). St Peter's statue now stands proudly by the school mission statement: "We are growing in faith, love and knowledge, taking God's light into the world."

Monday, 24 September 2007

The Word of God

At the back of the Cathedral, a lectionary stands open at the readings used for Mass. It reminds us of our call to reflect on God's Word, not simply to hear and then forget. It is a feature of the Cathedral which should grow in importance during this 'Curious about Scripture' year.

Today a new cover was placed over the front of the lectern. The dove represents the Holy Spirit, the One through whom Scripture is inspired. The Alpha and the Omega represent Christ, who is 'the beginning and the end'. This image reminds us of a key theme of this Scripture year: every page of Scripture speaks of Christ and points to Him.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Fit for Mission?

The Diocese of Lancaster is currently in the middle of a major review, under the heading 'Fit for Mission?', looking at how the Church in this area can be more effective in spreading the Gospel. It is a significant challenge to all of us, and the Cathedral, which in a certain sense is a 'flagship' for the Diocese, must be very active in this work.

Within the Cathedral, a chapel has been set aside for prayer for this intention, asking that God may guide all those involved in the review. Part of the review involves restructuring of parishes, which inevitably will mean the closure of some church buildings. The decisions may well be painful, and God's guidance is certainly needed.

This weekend plans will be published for the Lancaster and Morecambe deaneries, so Cathedral parishioners and those from neighbouring parishes will get an idea of what is proposed for this area. There will then be a period of consultation before the plans are put into place. The proposals will be announced at all Masses this weekend, then available from Tuesday on the diocesan website: and on

Monday, 17 September 2007

2008 Calendar

Just back from the printers and now on sale: the Cathedral's 2008 Calendar. It actually covers 14 months, beginning December this year and running through to January 2009.

Each month features an attractive image of the Cathedral or an event here, with dates of some major feasts also printed.

The printing and design are professional, but the photographs are all the work of the Cathedral parish. The October image, showing an attractive sunset with the silhouette of the spire, was taken by a parishioner. If anyone has any images of the Cathedral or events here, we'd be grateful to receive them (email address is given on the Cathedral website). The calendar is available at £3. If you'd like a copy sent by post, please send a cheque for £3.50 (to cover the cost plus p&p), payable to St Peter's Cathedral. The address is: Cathedral House, Balmoral Road, Lancaster LA1 3BT.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

An exclusive preview!

We're just beginning a project to include some short videos on our website, as a way of bringing the Cathedral a little more to life for those who can't visit. It's a bit experimental, but the first video was completed today, as a 'test'. It will probably be some time before the videos start to appear on the website, but blog readers have an exclusive preview! Following recent entries showing views from the tower, this clip shows some video footage from on high. Click here to take a look.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today's feast recalls how Mary stood at the foot of the Cross as her Son died. The scene is depicted at the top of the Triptych behind the high altar. Mary stands on the left, the beloved disciple on the right. The Collect at Mass prays that we may be like Mary: "Father, as Your Son was raised on the Cross, His mother Mary stood by Him, sharing His sufferings; May Your Church be united with Christ in His suffering and death and so come to share in His rising to new life..."

Friday, 14 September 2007

The Exaltation of the Cross

"When I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all people to myself" - the words of Our Lord speak of Him being 'lifted up': a reference both to His being taken up into glory and His suffering on the Cross. Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, a great feast of Christ's love for us shown on the Cross; a great feast of His victory - the victory of love over death. On this day, this feast, in 1859, a cross nearly 10ft in height was placed at the top of the Cathedral, one of the last things to be completed before the Cathedral was consecrated on October 4th. 148 years later, it still stands above the city of Lancaster, inviting its people to be drawn close to the Lord.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Curious about Scripture?

This weekend the Cathedral will launch a year-long programme designed to deepen our awareness of sacred Scripture. The Bible as a whole is mysterious to many people; many of its stories are well-known, yet their meaning and origin is less understood by most ordinary Catholics. Over the year there will be talks, printed information and resources made available. The talks are open to anyone, whether parishioners or not, and are completely free of charge. More details are now available on the Cathedral's website: click here.

Monday, 10 September 2007

What a difference a day makes

Now you see it; now you don't! These two photographs were both taken today, from roughly the same spot in the north-west corner of the Cathedral, under the tower. The box-like porch had been put in many years ago; to those at Cathedral House it had become (not-so-affectionately) known as 'the Narnia wardrobe'. Today it was taken out as part of an ongoing project to improve this part of the building.

Clearly, there's still a lot of work to be done to make the doorway look presentable, but already visitors get a better sense of space and a view of these much more attractive doors.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Heritage Open Days 2007

Across the country, buildings are opening their doors for the national Heritage Open Days. The Cathedral is open every day, but during these days extra events are organised for visitors. Regular guided tours of the Cathedral have been organised; some tours have included a rare chance to climb the Cathedral tower for some spectacular views (see entry below).

Two afternoon lectures took place this afternoon. Canon Dakin, a member of the Cathedral chapter, talked about the Cathedral's liturgical history; Christopher Robson (pictured above), a local historian, gave a talk about the Gillow family in the 18th century. The Gillow name is known for their fine furniture; they were also local Catholics. Tomorrow, the Cathedral's priests and parishioners provide an afternoon of Victorian parlour songs and verse in Cathedral House.

Rooftop Tours

As the national Heritage Open Days are taking place many buildings open their doors, allowing the public access to places normally off-limits. The Cathedral is open every day, of course, but there are some no-go areas which are open this weekend. The most obvious example is the Cathedral tower. Small groups are taken up with a guide (by appointment) to enjoy the stunning views over Lancaster and the Bay (see blog entries below).

Given that recent postings have included pictures of these views, it seemed appropriate to include some snaps of the people on tour. It at least gives a sense of the scale of the tower. Those who are really observant may notice that one of the pinnacles is wider than the others (see above, left) - this houses the very narrow staircase leading to the roof.

Don't they look small up there?

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Sister Mary Bernard SHCJ

We were sad to hear of the death of Sister Mary Bernard, who passed away recently. She worked for many years as sacristan at the Cathedral, until the sisters moved out of the adjoining convent. Sister Mary Bernard is seen above (third from the right) with the other Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus in the Lancaster community at the time. Although her requiem will take place in Harrogate, she is very much in the thoughts and prayers of this parish which she served.

May she rest in peace.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

The Night Watchman

After fall of darkness, a floodlit gargoyle watches over the city. The view from the Cathedral tower is no less spectacular at night, though climbing the narrow staircase to reach the top seems a little more daunting!

Some of Lancaster's other landmarks are also floodlit at night. On the other side of the city, the Castle (still serving as a prison, HMP Lancaster) and the Priory church can be clearly seen.

Lancaster by night looks much bigger than it really is, helped by the distant lights of Morecambe and towns and villages across the Bay. The very bright lights on the horizon are signs of night-time work taking place at the enormous shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness.

On the Greyhound Bridge, the lights of the night-time traffic head towards Morecambe - rather more quickly than they usually managed during the congested daylight hours.

The floodlights create wonderful shadows on the gargoyles - at night, it's a lot creepier here than in the daytime!