Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shrewsbury Cathedral backed to become a liturgy centre

Shropshire's only cathedral should become a centre of excellence for liturgy for the Diocese of Shrewsbury, according to its dean and subdean.

The Roman Catholic Shrewsbury Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Shrewsbury and a parish church.

The Very Reverend Canon Stephen Coonan, the cathedral's dean, admits the role of being a parish church gives their worship "a certain warmth".

The Reverend Father Chris Matthews said it was the diocese's "spiritual home".

The cathedral, the full name of which is the Cathedral Church of Our Lady Help of Christians and Saint Peter of Alcantara, is proud of its global reputation, not least because of seven stained glass windows created by Shrewsbury-born artist Margaret Rope.

Mr Coonan believes their services are also highly regarded for connecting "with people's everyday lives".

"There's a warmth and an atmosphere that you get in a parish church that you wouldn't be able to get in a seminary where priests do their training," he continued.

"When I was training to be a priest the liturgy was technically perfect but it was all so cold. It didn't have the warmth that ordinary families bring to it. It's important that the liturgy should be as well prepared and as well carried out as possible but I'm also conscious that we are a parish church and we have people of all ages and of all backgrounds."

Stained glass window
"We have lots of children present and so it means that things are never actually going to be perfect. At the most solemn moments you're going to hear children screaming out and things like that. But that gives a certain warmth to things."

The Diocese of Shrewsbury covers Shropshire and Cheshire as well as parts of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Derbyshire.

Mr Matthews is the diocesan master of liturgical ceremonies and as such is "responsible for any liturgy that the bishop celebrates wherever he is in the diocese".

He believes if the cathedral, which opened in 1856, became a hub for the teaching of worship they would be able to "give people a few ideas, a few suggestions for their own worship back in their own parishes".

"Things like helping [our readers] to have the right training so that they would proclaim the word of God in a way others can hear, but also draw them into what God is saying to them at that time," he said.