Martyn Jarrett on a double celebration in the North
THE NAVE of Liverpool Cathedral was filled to capacity as over two thousand pilgrims gathered there to celebrate the Bishop of Beverley’s Northern Festival. Previous festivals have always been held in York Minster. This time it was decided to take the gathering to the other side of the Pennines. Not only would this serve as an encouragement to the many faithful orthodox Anglicans in the North West, it would also be a chance to share in the year of celebration of the centenary of Liverpool Cathedral. The Bishop of Liverpool gave us his full encouragement and the Dean could not have been more co-operative and welcoming.
Before the Mass started a large cauldron of incense had been set burning at the entrance to the chancel. The Mass was concelebrated by the Bishop of Beverley together with five other bishops from the Northern Province, (a sixth arrived late and sat in the congregation,) and around one hundred and twenty priests. A local choir sang some magnificent motets while a renewal group also helped to lead the music.
The theme of the day was All Are Called and Bishop Martyn preached on the subject of vocation. At the rear of the Cathedral
were a number of displays explaining the work of various Catholic societies. Prominent among them were those offering advice on exploring vocations to the priestly and religious lives. It was good to have a number of religious with us. There were representatives form Rempstone, Mirfield and Almouth. Sister Anne Williams of the Church Army, leading the intercessions, reminded us by her uniformed presence of yet another possible vocation to lay ministry that might be explored.
The Cathedral bookshop helpfully displayed some books recommended by Bishop Martyn, especially on the theme of vocation. From ten in the morning the Cathedral book-shop and refectory were buzzing with folk. It was even more so at lunch time as people enjoyed exploring the beautiful surroundings, meeting old friends and sitting down to lunch.
Any pilgrimage to Liverpool needs to bear in mind that the city contains not one but two great cathedrals which model good ecumenical relationships. Archbishop Patrick kindly invited us to his Metropolitan Cathedral for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Some twelve hundred Anglicans stayed for
this afternoon devotion. A minibus service had even been arranged to ferry the frailer among us to the Metropolitan Cathedral. There, the Archbishop led us in two moving and profound meditations on the meaning of the Eucharist. As the Roman Catholic Dean remarked light heartedly to Bishop Martyn afterwards, it was a long time since he had seen so many Roman Catholics in attendance at Benediction!
It was a great day, notable among other things for the number of people who travelled long distances from the North East, no doubt aware of the effort many from the North West have consistently made in travelling time after time to York. The gathering at Armley earlier in the year to celebrate ten years of the Act of Synod, our sharing in large numbers with others at the Walsingham Magnificat celebrating in York Minister earlier in the summer, and now our own Northern Festival at Liverpool, continue to show how vigorous is our traditional Anglican Catholic life in the Northern Province.
Martyn Jarrett is Bishop of Beverley and Provincial Visitor