Liverpool people to welcome Pope Benedict XVI

As Pope Benedict arrives in Scotland people from throughout the Archdiocese of Liverpool are preparing to attend events during his visit. Although he is not visiting Liverpool thousands are set to travel to see him.

The Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, says: ‘as we prepare to welcome Pope Benedict XVI we can give thanks for all those from our area who will take part in the various events at which the Holy Father will speak for he is indeed a great teacher.’

Tomorrow morning Pope Benedict will go to St Mary’s College, Twickenham where he will meet with members of Religious Orders before taking part in a major schools event, ‘The Big Assembly’. Thirteen schools from across the Archdiocese will be travelling down to London leaving by coach very early on Friday morning to take part in the event which will be a celebration of Catholic Education.

After ‘The Big Assembly’ Pope Benedict will move indoors for an event called ‘Religions working together for the Common Good’ at which he will meet with leaders of Faith communities. This event is to be led by the Archbishop of Liverpool, Patrick Kelly, who is a member of the Pontifical Council for Inter Religious Dialogue.

On Friday afternoon there is the Address to Civil Society in Westminster Hall, among those attending will be local Members of Parliament and Civic Leaders from the Archdiocese. Representatives of the Ecumenism Commission from Liverpool will be present at the Celebration of Evening Prayer which follows in Westminster Abbey.

On Saturday, 18 September, Pope Benedict will celebrate Mass in Westminster Cathedral, a number of Liverpool priests will concelebrate the Mass and representatives of Liverpool Catholic Societies and Associations will be in the congregation. As the Mass is celebrated young people from across the country will gather on the Piazza outside the Cathedral, among them a group of 310 from the Archdiocese, largely from Animate Youth Ministries based at Lowe House, St Helens. At the end of the Mass Pope Benedict will come outside to greet them.

Following the ceremony on the Piazza the young people will then walk as a group to Hyde Park where a Vigil of Prayer is to take place on Saturday evening. During the afternoon as people assemble a variety of performance groups will take the stage to show the rich diversity of styles and traditions in the Catholic community in England and Wales. This part of the celebration is to be compered by Carol Vorderman and Liverpool writer Frank Cottrell Boyce. As this comes to an end there will be a procession of banners carried by representatives from the parishes of England and Wales and Scotland, this will mark the start of the Vigil attended by the Holy Father.

It will be an early start for many Liverpool parishioners on Sunday morning, 19 September, as over 1,000 people will be travelling to Cofton Park, Birmingham for the Mass of Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. 19 coaches will be leaving the Archdiocese to take people to the Mass to be celebrated by Pope Benedict.

Meanwhile in St Helens parishioners will celebrate Mass simultaneously at 10.00 am at the Shrine of Blessed Dominic Barberi in the parish of St Anne and Blessed Dominic as they remember the man who received Cardinal Newman into the Roman Catholic Church. Nineteenth Century Passionist Priest, Dominic Barberi, is buried in the Shrine at Sutton and was himself beatified by Pope Paul VI in Rome in 1963. Dominic had met the then Anglican Clergyman John Henry Newman at St Mary’s, in the Oxford village of Littlemore. He arrived at Newman’s home in Littlemore on his way to Belgium on 9 October 1845. He had travelled for twelve hours tied to the outside of a stagecoach in the driving rain, treated as baggage for a cheap fare. As he tried to dry himself in front of the fire Newman entered, knelt at Dominic's feet and asked to be received in to the Catholic Church. From there Newman went on to be ordained priest, be created a Cardinal and become one of the great Churchmen of the nineteenth century.

Archbishop Patrick Kelly says: ‘we rejoice that in St Helens there is the Shrine of Blessed Dominic Barberi who accompanied Cardinal John Henry Newman as he made what had often been a costly and painful journey involving in his own words ‘parting of friends’ into communion with the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Simon Peter.

Parish Priest, Father Peter Hannah, says of the celebration which will incorporate elements of the Mass of Beatification: ‘We are having one Mass in honour of the connection between Blessed Dominic and Cardinal Newman and will clearly associate ourselves with the celebration by the Holy Father in Birmingham.’