This month we welcome our newly ordained diocesan priest Father Peter Murphy on to the clergy team at the Cathedral, with Father Philip Carr leaving us for pastures new as parish priest of St Julies, Eccleston and priest in charge of English Martyrs, Haydock. Father Chris McCoy, another member of the clergy here, is also a relatively new arrival, taking up his appointment just before the lockdown.
In normal circumstances moving into a new parish presents both considerable challenges and new opportunities, but it must be more difficult in present circumstances settling into a new environment as a priest due to all the social distancing protocols and the limited pastoral engagement that we are able to have with people. I hope all three of them will be happy in their new appointments.
Here at the Cathedral we have been able to offer a scaled-down schedule of weekday and weekend Masses for the last two months – with weekend Masses at 4pm on a Saturday (Vigil) and 9am and 11am each Sunday. Attendance has been encouraging taking into account that many are still having to remain isolated due to health-related factors, and at present the total weekend attendance is about one-third of our pre-Covid figures.
Compared with many places of worship, we have a vast internal space for people to maintain a safe distance, and for us to keep a relatively safe environment. I feel that we are almost at the point of trying to encourage those who are able to come back to Mass; and when we do reach the appropriate time we may need a slogan or a campaign to encourage people back to Mass.