News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool
Ministry of Welcome
From it’s earliest days the Cathedral has extended a Ministry of Welcome to those coming to worship and visitors alike. The Guild of Guides is entirely voluntary as Deacon Paul Mannings, Head of Guild, writes:
Ours is a shared ministry of welcome as we guide pilgrims and visitors around this beautiful Cathedral. We are a vibrant and energetic team of volunteers split amongst twelve groups of three to four guides, working three hour periods between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm, Monday to Saturday. What we have in common is the living of our Mission Statement by “Greeting visitors in the name of the Lord.” Consequently, the Guild’s strength is a shared commitment in our striving to ensure they have the best possible experience and will want to return.
The Welcome Desk near to the porch is usually the first port of call. Here will gather the groups that have booked in advance and people will call on spec requesting tours. The casual visitor may want no more than a friendly conversation about their first impressions. Others will seek details of Mass and service times. Many will pass by simply wanting some personal space for stillness and or prayer. Here one can browse and select welcome leaflets available in many languages. The desk is the hub at which we communicate with and offer hospitality to all who call. First impressions are so important and very often so too is a word of gentle encouragement and the ability to be interested in and listen to their stories. Anxieties and happy times are shared and very often prayers assured.
Our styles of tours are wide and varied. However, first and foremost is the expression that we are a living Church community, the Mother Church of the Archdiocese and the centre of a worshipping parish community. Within this context, we invite our pilgrims and visitors, indeed everyone, to belong, albeit for a brief time. However, we hope that by making this experience positive they will come back. Time permitting, we can lead groups around the whole Cathedral, Crypt and Treasury. Those in a hurry are at the very least welcomed, provided with basic facts and an assurance that a guide is on hand to answer questions. Within any tour there must be provision for the visitor to reflect, gather their own thoughts and to contribute to conversations. Our collegial strength is the ability of each guide to interpret the spirituality of our Cathedral in our own style. Yes, we have the facts and figures. The personal creativity is our own stamp. We come from every walk of life with wide, varied and valued experiences!
Parishioners and hundreds of others pass through each day. There are busy periods suddenly interspersed by times of quiet. Pilgrims usually know what they are seeking in terms of religious spiritual enrichment. What of others, namely those numerous tourists who take advantage of Liverpool as a prized centre of tourism? Basically, we want the Cathedral to be here for everyone. Our guides work to express its friendly human face. Even if you just want a friendly nod or wave, call by the desk. From far or nearby, we will be delighted to meet you.
Bringing forth beauty
It was Easter Monday 1981 when Sister Anthony visited the Cathedral at the request of Monsignor Vincent Malone, the then Administrator. Sister Anthony had been teaching art at Notre Dame Teacher Training College and had been asked to become Art Director. It was the beginning of a journey which was to transform the Cathedral, and many churches in the Archdiocese and beyond.
Over the coming months Sister Anthony was to gather together teams of volunteers who worked tirelessly to create banners and hangings for the Cathedral, vestments, altar frontals and much more. The colour brought to life the grey concrete walls and their creation involved many people from throughout the area including the Friday night group of teenagers who quickly learned the art.
Orders and commissions came in from churches throughout the country and, at times, the volunteers struggled to keep up with demand. A remarkable story enhancing an already beautiful building.
A Cathedral does not run itself but relies on dedicated staff and an army of volunteers.
The Cathedral Dean, Canon Anthony O’Brien, is assisted in the spiritual life of the Cathedral by Father Stephen Lee, Father Dominic Risley and his predecessor as Dean, Monsignor Peter Cookson. They are assisted by Deacons Noel Abbott and Paul Mannings.
The Executive Assistant to the Dean, Claire Hanlon, oversees many aspects of Cathedral life and is supported in her work by, among others, administrative staff, maintenance and security staff and cleaning staff who keep the Cathedral in its pristine condition.