Thursday, 31 July 2008

Gertie Sowerby RIP

Last Friday the Cathedral lost one of its best-known and best-loved parishioners. Gertie Sowerby, who spent her life in service of this parish and its school, died aged 92. It would be hard to list the contributions she made to life at the Cathedral. She taught in the Cathedral School for many years, did much work in the parish, and remained a member of the choir right to the end. She will be sorely missed by many. Gertie's body will be brought into the Cathedral on Monday 4th August at 8pm, and her requiem Mass will take place on Tuesday 5th at 12:15pm. May she rest in peace.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The International Mass

Six months previously he was an unsuspecting parish priest in Hammersmith; now Bishop Campbell waits in the sacristy before celebrating Mass for up to 20,000 people in the Underground Basilica at Lourdes.

Bishop Campbell was joined by a few other bishops and about 200 priests for the Mass, which is celebrated each Wednesday and Sunday in the summer months. A variety of languages are used, with some of the most significant parts of the Mass sung or spoken in the Church's language, Latin. Large screens make it easier for people to see, and also provide written translations of some of the readings and prayers.

It was a proud moment for many on the pilgrimage to see our Bishop presiding over such a gathering of the international Church. It has indeed been an eventful few months in his life!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Diocese in Lourdes

For one week each year several hundred people from the Lancaster Diocese travel to Lourdes for the annual Diocesan Pilgrimage. The week includes a full programme: Mass each day, the processions, opportunities for prayer, the anointing of the sick, confession, stations of the cross, the rosary. This year the pilgrimage was led by Bishop Campbell, a frequent visitor to Lourdes.

The weather was glorious for most of the week - perhaps a little too hot at times! Above, a few of the pilgrims are gathering to pray the rosary together on the meadow over the river from the Grotto.

A familiar sight on the pilgrimage is the youth section. Over 100 young people - a diocesan record - travelled this year, easily recognisable in their blue tops. They work throughout the day, helping the sick pilgrims and those who rely on wheelchairs to get around this undulating town. In the evenings they had time for prayer and socialising. Above they are seen beginning the stations of the cross, which is made up of life-size figures.

At the end of the week Bishop Patrick joined the pilgrimage, travelling directly from the World Youth Day in Sydney. Above he is pictured with Fr Phillip Conner, the Director of the Diocesan Youth Service, who has had a busy summer! Fr Phillip also travelled from Sydney to be in Lourdes for the last days of the pilgrimage.

Here the Bishop is seen with two of the diocesan seminarians (trainee priests), Fr Phillip and our own Fr Andrew.

The end-of-pilgrimage party gace the seminarians a chance to show off their skills at entertaining the pilgrims! The pilgrimage gives a great sense of the whole Diocese being represented: bishop(s), priests, deacons, sick pilgrims, the youth, seminarians... it seems that everyone is represented. Lourdes itself gives a great sense of the Church gathered for prayer. Tomorrow's post focuses on one of the most obvious examples of this: the international Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Campbell.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Lourdes in the Jubilee Year

Today, the first of three posts about the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes. Earlier in the year the Cathedral marked the 150th anniversary of the apparitions with a novena, pilgrimage to Cleator and Mass and Vespers on the feast day. Last weeek Fr Andrew and a number of parishioners joined the Diocesan Pilgrimage and got a first-hand experience of Lourdes in this jubilee year.

There is no doubt that Lourdes is extra-busy this year. Many millions of pilgrims are expected to visit the shrine, and to pray at the Grotto (above) where Our Lady appeared to St Bernadette eighteen times in the period February-July 1858.

In a jubilee year it is common for churches to designate a special entrance or open a different door during the year. Pilgrims visiting a church to mark the jubilee would enter by this 'holy door'. In Lourdes the archways which lead from the Rosary Square to the Grotto have been marked out for this purpose. They are decorted with images and each had an icon at ground level, which pilgrims are asked to venerate.

Even at night time there are large crowds at the Grotto. Many are drawn by the stillness and beauty of this place; its holiness seems even more evident after sunset.

Pilgrims are also encouraged to take part in a 'Jubilee Walk' around the town, visiting many of the sites associated with St Bernadette's life. A plenary indulgence is offered to pilgrims who take part in this walk. Tomorrow's post will focus on our own Diocesan Pilgrimage.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

To Lourdes

This morning the first pilgrims on the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes will leave Lancaster by coach. They'll arrive at the shrine tomorrow evening. Most of the pilgrims fly out of Manchester tomorrow. This year the pilgrimage is being led by Bishop Campbell; he will be joined by Bishop O'Donoghue late in the week, when he returns from the World Youth Day in Australia. The departure also means a break in postings, as the blogger is on the pilgrimage! Towards the end of the month we hope to post some pictures of the Diocese in Lourdes, and of the World Youth Day. Call back soon!

Monday, 14 July 2008


Some time ago, when the Organ Restoration Fund was launched, an 'Adopt-a-Pipe' scheme was set up. With work on the organ progressing, and with the financial target almost in sight, it will soon be time to close the appeal. So - in case you've missed out so far - here's a last look at the scheme and how it works.

Anyone wishing to adopt a pipe makes a donation: £25 for a small pipe, £50 for medium, £100 for large and £150 for extra large. They are then assigned a pipe. It is not possible to inscribe the pipes themselves, but all inscriptions will be recorded in a book which will be produced when the appeal closes. Participants also receive a certificate on which their inscription is recorded. The organ has 1886 pipes - so there are plenty left to adopt! Donations can also be 'gift-aided' to increase their value at no cost to the giver.

Children can adopt an accesory, such as one of the pistons or keys, at a cost of £2.50. If you'd like to know more, get in touch with us. You could also click here for the adopt-a-pipe page on the Cathedral's website. The appeal is doing well but we need one final push to cross the finish line!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Year 6 in the Capital

On Wednesday this week children from Year 6 - the top year of the Cathedral Primary School - went on a day trip to London. For many it was their first visit to the Capital, and there was a great sense of excitement in the group. The trip was organised as a reward for the children's excellent behaviour throughout the year, particularly on previous days out and residential trips.

The children were accompanied by a number of staff members and Fr Andrew. They travelled by train, leaving Lancaster at 6:30am and arriving at London Euston just before 9:30am. There they were met by a coach which transported them for the rest of the day.

First stop was the Science Museum. At every corner there are interactive displays - the children were certainly not short of something to do!

The Museum is spread over five floors; it could easily have been a day trip in itself. There was time to explore a few sections before heading off to a small Italian restaurant nearby for lunch.

Next stop the Lyceum Theatre, for the afternoon performance of The Lion King. A visual spectacular - and two and a half hours away from the wet streets of London!

After the show the group headed for the London Eye. On a day trip there was little time to see the sights of London close up; here there was a chance to get a glimpse of most of them from a distance.

The Eye takes about half an hour to make a full revolution, giving plenty of time to look down on London's landmarks - especially the Houses of Parliament, a short distance away on the other side of the Thames.

Despite the rain there were some breaks in the cloud allowing some spectacular panoramic views. Year 6 will leave the school in two weeks' time, reading for the next stage of their education. They will no doubt have some very happy memories of these final days.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Ordination DVD: a sequel?

Do you recognise this scene? At the end of a long day, the newly-ordained Bishop Campbell presided over Vespers for the feast of the Annunciation. About 300 people attended, including many who would have liked to have been at the ordination but were unable. DVDs of the ordination itself are selling well; Vespers was also recorded, and we hope to be able to make copies available to those who would like them.

The recording captures some historic moments: here Bishop Campbell enters the Cathedral for the first time as a Bishop...

...preceded by the servers, Cathedral Chapter and Bishop O'Donoghue. These images are taken from the video itself. Images captured from video recordings never look as good as the video or as proper still photos, but at least these snaps give a sense of how the video appears.

Also recorded is Bishop Campbell's first homily as our coadjutor. He spoke about the ordination day and its meaning for the Diocese, linking the day's events with the feast of the Annunciation and the Easter season. It is wonderful to have a record of these first words.

At the end of Vespers the Te Deum was sung and Bishop Campbell walked through the Cathedral, blessing those present. Now we need your help! If we made copies of the DVD widely available, we would probably need to charge something similar to the cost of the ordination DVD (£10). If you would be interested in obtaining a copy (or copies) please let us know. If there is enough interest we will certainly do so, and the Blog will announce details if and when we decide to go ahead. Contact details for the Cathedral can be found here.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Curious about the Eucharist?

As our 'Curious about Scripture?' year draws to a close, we begin to look ahead to the next major programme. It's called 'Curious about the Eucharist', and is intended to be an opportunity for us to deepen our faith in this great sacrament. There will be talks, newsletter input and other events taking place October 2008-June 2009. More details are available on a page of the Cathedral's website - click here.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Seven Years in Lancaster

Seven years ago today Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue, largely unknown in the Diocese, was installed as our fifth Bishop. He came from the Archdiocese of Westminster, where he had served as an auxiliary bishop under Cardinal Hume and later Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor. As it is the last time the anniversary will occur during Bishop Patrick's episcopate here, it seems a good opportunity to post a few pictures of the day.

As you would expect, the Cathedral was packed full; aside from the priests people of the Diocese, there were civic and ecumenical leaders. A fair number of priests also came from Westminster to say farewell to the Bishop and see him installed in his Cathedral.

Sister Zela from St Thomas More's church is pictured at the ambo. The Cardinal stands out in his red choir dress, and there are other bishops just visible on the same row. The eagle-eyed may also spot Fr Michael Docherty, former assistant priest at the Cathedral, to the left of the pillar. At that time he was studying for the priesthood in Rome.

Outside the newly-installed Bishop of Lancaster posed with the Cardinal and Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool. By the look of it, they all enjoyed the day! There are surprisingly few photographs of the day in our archive. If anyone has photographs of the installation or knows where we might find some, please contact us.