Sunday, 9 August 2009

Mission Control

This sign, which can be found in Lourdes, is actually advertising one of the town's many bars which provide hospitality to pilgrims. The neon 'Little Flower' option has been rejected as a way of promoting the visit of St Thérèse to Lancaster, but even so the event is bringing an extraordinary level of interest. It's exactly 50 days until the relics come to the Cathedral for their 43-hour stop, and at this stage we expect to welcome around 45 coaches, plus very many people making the pilgrimage as individuals.

The Cathedral office forms a sort of 'mission control' for the visit. Its main notice board has been largely taken over by St Thérèse, with information being recorded about which groups are coming, and when. The focus is also now moving towards staffing the event, with considerable contributions being made by Cathedral parishioners and the Knights of St Columba from around the Diocese; many of those who attended the catechists' training day in January have also volunteered help, as have other individuals from around the Diocese. If you'd like to help in any way, we would be pleased to hear from you: contact us. There will be a training afternoon for stewards (attendance is not absolutely essential, but clearly is a help!) on Saturday 19th September at the Cathedral.

A map of the Diocese is marked with pins representing parish, deanery and school groups: those which are confirmed and those who have expressed an interest. We anticipate a fair number of visitors from outside of the Diocese, mostly from Scotland but some from south of Preston. The sheer number of visitors presents some logistical challenges, but plans are being put in place to ensure a smooth event. The police have already been very helpful in offering advice about the visit and about managing traffic and parking issues.

Meanwhile, the new St Thérèse cloister garden is really beginning to take shape, with the vast majority of the ground work now complete. After that comes the task of bringing in the flowers! Suitable lighting for the garden is also being prepared. If you are following the St Thérèse blog you may have read that the garden will be opened on 27th September, the day before the visit, at the end of Vespers. There will be a procession to the garden and a sung litany of St Thérèse before the garden is blessed. Vespers that day (as every Sunday) begins at 4:40pm - if you are free you are most welcome to join us.