On Christmas Day, Archbishop Malcolm celebrated the 10am Mass in the Crypt Chapel, where each year some of the children who regularly attend that Family Mass dress up as shepherds, angels, etc. and lead a procession to the Crypt crib for the blessing and the placing of baby Jesus into the manger.
This is normally done on Christmas Eve in the main Cathedral. However, I found out on Boxing Day that they had been unable to find the Child Jesus in the Cathedral, and therefore had had to borrow a doll for the blessing, with one parent even having offered to place their new-born child into the crib!
From what I hear, this certainly kept the congregation awake, as well as giving the Archbishop extra material for his homily. It transpired that the real crib figure was waiting silently under the crib for his special moment, which didn't arrive at the appointed time, and so we had to celebrate a local variable feast of the 'finding of the baby Jesus under the crib' a couple of days after Christmas.
It's not often that the Feast of the Presentation falls on a Sunday, and so we made the most of Candlemas on 2 February with a procession and blessing of candles to honour Christ 'the light to enlighten all nations'. The references in the Gospel to Simeon and Anna offered an opportunity to give thanks and pray for the elderly members of our congregations.
The following Sunday, 9 February, at 11am, Archbishop Malcolm celebrates the Annual Diocesan Mass in Support of Marriage and Family Life.
Then, the final Sunday before Lent, 23 February, marks the occasion for our Annual Civic Mass to which all local mayors, civic dignitaries and holders of public office are invited as we pray for our north-west region and the needs of our communities.
Ash Wednesday falls on 26 February, before March begins with the First Sunday of Lent Mass and the Rite of Election – involving those intending to be received into communion with the Church at Easter – at a 3pm afternoon service.