Thursday 29 January 2009

Moving Thérèse

Yesterday workmen were in moving the Cathedral's statue of St Thérèse of Lisieux, in preparation for the visit of her relics in September.

Here's the statue in its old position inside the cloister. Although the statue was designed to be outside, for many years it has stood here just in front of one of the windows.

Yesterday afternoon this was the view from the same window - the statue now moved and lying in the courtyard outside.

A plinth had been prepared at the workshop and was brought to the Cathedral to be fixed in place. Once in position the statue was put in place.

Now St Thérèse stands proudly in her new position. This is the first phase of work in this area. The next step is to begin to develop the area around the statue as a small garden. Until yesterday it was an unattractive, featureless area; now there is opportunity to improve this part of the site. Moving the statue out of the corridor into an open space will also allow for groups to gather around it for prayers and devotions.

The statue itself was also cleaned up yesterday - a much needed improvement. Now standing in the open air and facing the Cathedral, it is hoped that it will become a greater focus for prayer in the run-up to the visit of St Thérèse's relics later in the year.

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Take your pick

Orchestras, talks, a flower festival, exhibitions, organ recitals, newly commissioned drama, concert pianists... there really is something for everyone in the Cathedral's packed programme of concerts and cultural events for the coming months. The details have been released on the Cathedral website this morning. Why not find your diary, and then take a look, here?

Sunday 25 January 2009

Journey in Faith

Every Sunday people of all ages and backgrounds come together for Mass at the Cathedral. The diversity of the congregation serves to remind us of the universality of the Church to which we belong. We're fortunate that each year in the parish a number of adults are baptised and received into the Church. Preparation takes a variety of forms - sometimes in groups and often by individual preparation with a priest. In February we will launch a 'Journey in Faith' group, to meet on Thursday evenings. People interested in learning about Catholicism and those considering joinging the Church are most welcome, as are recent converts. The group will offer a chance to find out more about our faith in a friendly environment. Interested? Please contact us if you'd like to know more.

Friday 23 January 2009

The Pope on YouTube

The same message in every age, but for each audience a different means of communication: over the years popes have communicated with their people by letters and envoys, public speeches, foreign travels, radio, television and most recently the Vatican website. Today a further step was taken, as the Vatican launched its own channel on the video website YouTube. Here videos of papal appearances, audiences and speeches will be posted so that people around the world can directly hear the Pope speak. If you want to take a look you can find the channel here, but don't forget to come back and visit our humble words and still pictures Cathedral Blog!

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Bishop Hugh Lindsay RIP

With sadness we have heard that Bishop Hugh Lindsay, former Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, died suddenly at his home at Boarbank Hall, Grange, on Monday. He had lived at Boarbank since his retirement in 1992 and worked there as chaplain to the community of Augustinian sisters. Bishop Lindsay was a well-known figure around our own Diocese after his retirement, sometimes covering for our own bishops during times of illness; he also presided over the Diocesan Chrism Mass in the Cathedral in 2001, in the time between Bishop Brewer's death and Bishop O'Donoghue's appointment. He preached at the requiem Mass celebrated here on the day of Pope John Paul's funeral, and most recently was here for Bishop Campbell's ordination last March. Bishop O'Donoghue said, “We offer all our prayers and sympathy to the Bishop’s remaining family, the Sisters at Boarbank, the priests and people of the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle and indeed to all Bishop Lindsay’s many friends.” Our Diocesan website carries a fuller account of Bishop Lindsay's life - click here.

Tuesday 20 January 2009

The first peal - and an appeal

129 years ago today the Cathedral's bells were rung for the first time. Today they still call the faithful to Mass each Sunday evening, and are used for special occasions. A single bell is often rung at the consecration during Mass, and the angelus bell rings three times a day. The bell-ringing team are always on the look-out for new members (Catholics and non-Catholics are all welcome) and would welcome any enquiries. Why not give it a go? Contact us if you'd like to know more. The bells are featured today on Billington's Blog - click here.

Sunday 18 January 2009

Your starter for 150

Last night we held a parish social evening to launch the celebrations for the Cathedral's 150th anniversary. There was a good turnout - particularly for an evening of such awful weather - and people seemed to enjoy themselves. There was a chance to find out about the many events planned for the year. Fr Stephen went through the list of what is planned, and we were also joined by Emma Rucastle, who is organising some drama based on the life of St Peter. There will be a performance in February, a number of small performances in June and an evening at the Grand Theatre in October. Parishioners are welcome to get involved!

The evening began with a mini-quiz of the Cathedral. Four rounds of eight questions, with rounds including 'guess the year'.

Here some of the parishioners get to grips with the picture round. Among the faces to be recognised was Canon Billington. The new blog named after him can be found here. Keep an eye on this blog too - as the year goes on we will have a lot to report on!

Saturday 17 January 2009

Launching the 150th celebrations

Tonight a parish social evening takes place to launch the Cathedral's 150th anniversary celebrations. Refreshments will be provided, there will be a mini-quiz of the Cathedral and a chance to find out about the exciting range of events planned for 2009. Blog readers have already had a sneak preview of the year - click here if you missed it. If you are a parishioner, come along tonight as the celebrations begin! It all starts at 7:30pm in the Social Centre.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Epiphany Party

Last Saturday we held our annual Epiphany Party. At this event we invite many parishioners who cannot easily get out of their homes. Transport is arranged and assistance provided for those in need of help.

Food and drink was provided, and entertainment too. There was opportunity for a singalong and a free raffle took place. Everyone went home with a prize of some sort or other; a variety of gifts and raffle prizes had been donated by parishioners.

Monday 12 January 2009

Ordinary Time

After Advent and the great feasts of the Christmas season, today we return to what is known as 'ordinary time', which will continue until Lent begins on 25th February. Green vestments are worn and the green tabernacle veil is used during this season. Perhaps this colour, so often seen in the plant life of God's creation, reminds us that every day of the year - not just the great seasons and feasts - is an opportunity to grow in faithfulness to the Lord.

Sunday 11 January 2009

The Baptism of the Lord

Today the Christmas season concludes with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Although we are baptised to cleanse us of our sins and bring us to new life in Christ, the Preface of John the Baptist reminds us that something very different is happening here: "He (John) baptised Christ, the giver of baptism, in waters made holy by the One who was baptised." Today the Lord lines up with the sinners who hope for cleansing - a wonderful expression of His solidarity with us, despite our sinfulness. This day also prefigures the day of His death, when He will line up with sinners not to share their baptism but to share their fate - and thereby offer them His life. The image here is from the altar in the Cathedral baptistery. The Holy Spirit can be seen above Jesus and John the Baptist, radiating light upon the Lord. At the sides can be seen the banks of the river Jordan, perhaps designed to look like rocks. In the eastern tradition, icons of the Lord's baptism show the river banks to look like rocks, thereby implying not just the river Jordan but also the tomb in which Christ was buried. Perhaps something similar is being suggested here.

Friday 9 January 2009

Bishop Campbell Vespers DVD

Some time ago we asked about the level of interest in a possible DVD of Vespers from the day of Bishop Campbell's ordination. About 300 people came that evening as we welcomed our new Coadjutor Bishop and heard him give a homily as a Bishop for the first time. The earlier post, which includes some more pictures, can be found here.

Now we are pleased to report that the DVDs have been prepared and have arrived. They are on sale for £10 each (plus £2 postage and packaging if you would like them sent). Those who have expressed an earlier interest should receive an email from us. Other people can buy them on a first-come, first-served basis. If you would like to place an order please send a cheque (made payable to 'St Peter's Cathedral') to Cathedral House, Balmoral Road, Lancaster LA1 3BT. Make sure you include your full contact details inside! For more information, please contact us.

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Have you seen it?

A few days after its launch, Billington's Blog has already reported on the opening of the Cathedral organ (120 years ago yesterday) and the old practice of bench rents; it has also given us a sweeping view of the history of Catholic Lancaster, the details of which will be filled in over the coming months. A lot have people have taken a look already. Have you? The new blog can be found here.

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Seminarians' Visit

Yesterday the seminarians (trainee priests) of the Diocese came for their annual visit. Fr Andrew Dawson, who was ordained at the Cathedral in November, was the main celebrant at 12:15pm Mass and presided at Vespers later in the day. In between the seminarians had a talk on life as a student in the Middle Ages, given by Prof. Andrew Jotischky of Lancaster University, and a talk on the Lancaster Martyrs, given by Patrick Sherry, Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at Lancaster. In 'Fit for Mission? Church', Bishop Patrick wrote, "I would like to encourage a greater devotion to the martyrs of our diocese, because I am very much aware of the truth of that ancient saying, 'The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church'." Hopefully the future priests of our Diocese will find strength in the witness and intercession of the martyrs as they continue their studies. The seminarians are pictured at the Martyrs' Memorial with Prof. Sherry (left of the memorial) and Fr Manny Gribben, Vocations Director (right of the memorial). The Diocese has its own Vocations Blog, which can be found here.

Sunday 4 January 2009

The Epiphany of the Lord

Today the feast of the Epiphany is celebrated, transferred from the traditional date of January 6th. On this day the magi came from the east to see the new-born King, guided by a star. This was the first occasion on which Gentiles (non-Jews) were invited to see the Saviour, and so it is a day full of promise, a day of hope for those outside of the people of Israel. This promise is fulfilled in the life of the universal Church, which invites all people in every part of the world to know and serve Christ, and to receive from Him the gift of eternal salvation.

Saturday 3 January 2009

Some support for the homeless

When the weather is wet (as in this picture) or cold (as in recent days) it must be very hard for those who live without shelter on the streets of Lancaster. Their main source of support is the Lancaster and District Homeless Action Service (LDHAS), which was founded by local churches in the 1980s, and provides a day centre all year round and a night shelter over the Christmas period. During Advent Cathedral parishioners donated money for this service at the end of Mass, and we were pleased to be able to send a cheque for over £640 to support the work of the Homeless Action Service. The LDHAS website, which can be found here, gives more information about their work.

Friday 2 January 2009

January Diary

January is possibly the quietest month of the year - at least as far as the diary is concerned! Behind the scenes there is a fair amount of work to be done to prepare for events later in the year. Public events for this month are as follows: on Sunday 4th the feast of the Epiphany is kept; it will also be marked on Tuesday 6th, particularly with events involving the Cathedral School, who avoided Christmas parties before the break and are now keen to celebrate the Lord's coming. On Monday 5th we welcome the seminarians of the Diocese, coming for their annual visit. You would be most welcome to join them for Mass at 12:15pm, Exposition and Rosary at 4pm and sung Vespers and Benediction at 4:40pm. The annual Epiphany Party, which takes place especially for some of our parishioners who are unable to get out of home without help, takes place on 10th. On Sunday 11th - the last day to view the crib - the feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated. The parish launch of the 150th celebrations takes place with a social evening on Saturday 17th, with a mini-quiz of the Cathedral and a chance to find out more about what's planned. January may be a quiet month, but in this respect it is likely to the the odd one out in 2009!

Thursday 1 January 2009

2009: a preview

It's a risky business trying to predict the future, but today the Blog takes a look at what's lined up in the Cathedral Diary for this 150th anniversary year. The first parish event is a social on the evening of 17th January, which will include a more detailed preview of the 150th celebrations. In February we will see the first of several new dramas based on the life of St Peter; there will be more in June and October.

In March we expect to hear the organ sounding again, after a huge restoration programme. It will be put to good use at the many events taking place in 2009; among the non-liturgical events there will be recitals marking the 100th anniversary of Dr Dixon's appointment (May) and legendary American organist Carlo Curley playing an all-American programme on 4th July.

Holy Week (5th-12th April) is always the high point of the year, with the celebration of the death and resurrection of the Lord. There will also be daily sung Vespers during the Easter Octave (12th-19th April) to mark this most important of feasts.

Later in the year we will bid farewell to Bishop O'Donoghue after nearly eight years serving the Diocese. Bishop Michael Campbell, currently Coadjutor Bishop, will take over with a Mass to inaugurate his ministry in early May.

The Curious about the Eucharist? talks resume in March, with four talks in Lent and four in Eastertide. The course will culminate with the annual 40 Hours Devotion, taking place 11th-14th June (the feast of Corpus Christi).

The Cathedral gardens are full of wonderful flowers in the summer months; for a short time the church itself will also be a floral attraction, with a Flower Festival taking place on the weekend of Saints Peter and Paul, the Cathedral's patronal feast (25-29th June). Bishop Campbell will celebrate the 10:30am Mass on the feast day (28th), which will also mark the end of the Year of St Paul. In July there will be an exhibition about the life of Anne Frank, taking place on the Cathedral site, with many school groups and individuals expected to visit. August is usually a little quieter; the main highlight is the feast of the Lancaster Martyrs (7th).

The City Museum will host a major exhibition about the Cathedral from 21st September to 20th November. Visitors will be able to learn more about Catholic Lancaster since the Reformation and about the founding of St Peter's parish. They will also be invited to come and see some displays in the Cathedral itself marking the 150th year. History lovers can also find out more about the Cathedral with the republication and updating of the parish history later this year, and Billington's Blog, a historical blog which launches today - click here.

At the end of September the relics of one of the greatest and most popular modern saints, Thérèse of Lisieux, will visit the Cathedral for about 40 hours. The church will be open throughout as a great many visitors come for this important diocesan event, which takes place as part of a tour of England and Wales. It should be a time of great grace and a wonderful time of prayer in the final days before the 150th anniversary.

The great Feast of the Dedication will take place on October 4th, 150 years to the day since St Peter's was consecrated. There will be an open invitation to parishioners and visitors, and we hope to be joined by a number of bishops from across the north of England. Later in October there is a parish pilgrimage to Rome, before things begin to settle down again in the final weeks of the year. A full programme of concerts and events will also take place. It promises to be an extremely busy year, but one which will, hopefully, offer something for everyone to celebrate this wonderful anniversary. More can be found on the 150th section of the Cathedral's website, which can be found here.