Archbishop Malcolm McMahon Mass of Installation

Martin O'Boyle reflects on the Mass of Installation in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King which saw the Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP become the ninth Archbishop of Liverpool on the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, Thursday 1 May 2014.

Pictures from the Mass of Installation

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King was packed with over 2,000 people to witness the installation of its third Archbishop of Liverpool, and the Archdiocese’s ninth Archbishop, on Thursday 1 May 2014.

After the Lord Mayor and the High Sheriff took their seats, a grand procession entered to the strains of Dubois, Buxtehude, Elgar and Bach.  It contained the Archbishops and Bishops of England and Wales, Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Kelly, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor and Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles as well as the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Antonio Mennini.

Just as he had done 42 days earlier on the day the announcement was made, Apostolic Administrator Bishop Tom Williams welcomed the man appointed to Liverpool by Pope Francis: Malcolm McMahon at the main entrance of the Cathedral, as the media filmed and photographed his arrival.

Following a solemn entrance, the Apostolic Letter of Authority from the Vatican was read by the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Liverpool, Father Aidan Prescott which said: ‘Venerable brother, spread the Kingdom of Christ more and more among your people, so that they may participate in the fruit of his redemption and enjoy full communion with him.’  After this Bishop Tom led the Archbishop-Elect to the Cathedra for the first time.  Thereafter our new Archbishop made the following proclamation:

‘With faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the love of God in my heart, I accept the pastoral care of the people of God in the Metropolitan Diocese of Liverpool.  I promise to serve faithfully the Church in this Diocese, preach the gospel and celebrate the Eucharist.’

A spontaneous round of applause broke out after former Auxiliary Bishop Vincent Malone and the Archbishop Emeritus presented Archbishop Malcolm with the Book of Gospels and the Archdiocese’s Crozier respectively, before welcomes were made on behalf of the Clergy and the people of the Archdiocese.

The Archbishop who described himself as ‘an ecumenist by nature’ during the Mass was then greeted by the Right Reverend Richard Blackburn, the Bishop of Warrington and the Liverpool Anglican Diocesan Administrator and Reverend Philip Jump, the Free Church Moderator on behalf of the Church Leaders and Churches Together in the Merseyside Region.

It was then the turn of Civic Leaders to greet our new Archbishop, with Gary Millar the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, the Mayor of Wigan and the President of Tynwald from the Isle of Man, as the various regions of the Archdiocese were represented.  Following the Mass, the Lord Mayor described it as ‘a privilege’ to meet Archbishop Malcolm and described the Mass as ‘lovely.’

The Mass of Installation took place on the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, with the Archbishop beginning his Homily by saying that this was a deliberate choice on his part as Joseph ‘teaches us that we are part of God’s creative plan for the world, and that we are all called together to work together to fulfil that plan.’

The Homily which centred on St. Joseph as a dreamer, a worker and a family man saw our new Archbishop urging the faithful to learn from the Archdiocese’s patron and be ready, like Joseph, to break with convention, and do things differently.

‘Taking risks to proclaim the good news of salvation is the task before us as much here in the Archdiocese of Liverpool as elsewhere.’ he said.  ‘Breaking with structures and conventions that give us comfort, that feed our complacency and dull our sensitivity to the demands of being a Christian, is what it means to be a missionary disciple.’

The 64-year-old also challenged the people of the Archdiocese to make our own the words of Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii gaudium’:

‘In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients.  The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized.’

‘The task of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ is for all of us,’ continued Archbishop Malcolm.  ‘Guided by the Holy Spirit, we must work together, as Bishops, priests and people…to build up the Body of Christ, to worship God in spirit and truth, and to serve our brothers and sisters.’

Pope Pius XII established the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker on 1 May, due to it being Labour Day in many countries.  It also serves as a reminder that God blesses and sanctifies the ordinary.  However, in being ordinary, we have been given extraordinary gifts:

‘We are temples of the Holy Spirit, brothers and sisters of Jesus, children of the Most High – it is a dignity that is given to us by God,’ said Archbishop Malcolm.  ‘But it is by work that we discover it and deepen our awareness of it.  As we care for the world around us, develop earth’s resources for the good of mankind, feed our families and ourselves, we truly realise our identity as being loving, and loveable, children of God. In a changing society we must not lose this insight.’

The Archbishop, who described the Cathedral as ‘beautiful and iconic’ in his Homily, concluded by saying that his prayer was that all of us will make the preaching of the Gospel our primary task.

‘To be a Christian is a real challenge in the world in which we live, but it is a joyful, hope-filled and life-giving challenge.  Together let us accept that challenge, and promise Christ, whoever we are, that we will be carried by him, and carry him, in every moment and aspect of our lives,’ he concluded.

Members of Archbishop Malcolm’s family brought up the gifts of bread and wine as the hymn ‘The Kingdom of God is Justice and Joy’ was sung, just as it had been at his first Mass as Archbishop-Elect in the Crypt.  Later in the Mass, the Archbishop pointed out the influence of his brothers Ed and Pete, joking that he suffered from ‘middle child syndrome!’

He was joined by his predecessor, plus Bishop Tom Williams and Bishop Vincent Malone for the Eucharistic Prayer, while the choir sang Mawby’s ‘Ave Verum’ and Handel’s ‘Worthy is the Lamb’ during Communion.  The congregation sang the Gregorian chant Christus Vincit (Christ conquers) with gusto in which the Pope, the Archbishop and all Bishops were prayed for.  The Mass concluded with ‘Hail, Redeemer King Divine’, the Rigby-Brennan collaboration which was written specifically for the Archdiocese.

Before the Final Blessing, Archbishop Mennini, speaking on behalf of Pope Francis, said: 'It gives me great joy to be here today for the installation of your new Archbishop,  especially as you have chosen this particular day of St Joseph the Worker. This marks a new beginning for you all.'

Reflecting on the Mass, Archbishop Malcolm said: ‘I’d like to thank each and every one who came on the day I began my mission as Archbishop of Liverpool.  In particular, I would like to thank those who worked so hard to make my Installation Day so happy and welcoming for the many people who came to the Metropolitan Cathedral from the Archdiocese and beyond.  I am honoured to be among you as your Archbishop. May God bless you and your families.’