A Tale of Two Cathedrals
Two pillars from different sects of the same religion, Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral are close neighbours and friends.
Ahead of one of their their busiest times of year, It’s Liverpool caught up with Liverpool Anglican Cathedral’s director of communications, Stuart Haynes and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral’s press officer, Peter Heneghan, to talk about both cathedral’s plans for the Christmas season, how they work together, and what 2016 has in store for them.
“Working together is so much more fruitful than working separately…”
What have you both got planned for this festive season?
Stuart: “Both of us have our own events, but we also alternate performances too. Radio City had their carol concert with us this year, Radio Merseyside are with the Metropolitan, We’re seen by people in the city as places to take their big acts.”
“On Boxing Day we have Ian Tracey, our organist, with his Boxing Day Recital from 11.15 playing some festive favourites.”
Peter: “Our festive season started at the beginning of December. This Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Advent, so at 5pm there is a festival carol service with the cathedral choirs.
“On Christmas Eve we have the first Vespers of Christmas, evening prayer and the traditional Midnight Mass.
“On Christmas Day the main Mass is at 11 o’clock, a Solemn Mass sung by the Girl’s Choir and the men of the choir.”
Stuart: “In what has become a tradition we have both cathedral choirs for a performance of The Messiah. This year it was at the Anglican, next year it’s at the Metropolitan.”
“We are inspired to work together from the example that our predecessors, Sheppard and Worlock set (Bishop David Sheppard, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool 1975-1997 and Archbishop Derek Worlock, Catholic Archbishop[ 1976 - 1996). Their ability to work well together offered up recognition for both faiths.
Peter: “We have these magnificent cathedrals within walking distance of each other so there’s a lot to offer, the idea of working together is so much more fruitful than working separately.”
How do you balance being a place for the faithful alongside a tourist destination?
Stuart: “It’s a year round thing, we know from cruise ships that city visitor numbers are up, so we have a team of volunteers on duty from 9am until 5pm every day to show people round.
Peter: “The cathedrals are a place of worship but tourists do often come to visit and make some time to spend quietly in the cathedral to say a prayer.. just to find some space.”
Stuart: “Any church and certainly cathedrals, recognise both worshipers and tourists. People will want to do one Christmas religious “thing” as part of their Christmas tradition, whether it’s Midnight Communion or Christmas morning Mass. People like to do it and we recognise that.”
“We know that doing the “God thing” is about reaching out to people where they are. We very much “do God” but from my personal point of view, actually, we’re people not trying to force religion.”
This year one of the most visible partnerships between both Cathedrals has been Hope+. How is that continuing for Christmas?
Stuart: “At Hope+, our food bank, we raise donations and feed people but we also give them Christmas treats,”. Hope+ is an interfaith partnership, set up by both cathedrals responding to a local need. Other faiths are also involved.
Peter: “What’s very important is the refugees at the moment we have coming to Hope+ and different cultures and faiths. We don’t just feed them but help them find communities for their whole needs, giving them a community they can connect with for support so they can really become a part of Liverpool.”
Stuart: “It has been exceptionally busy, and continues to be exceptionally busy. That’s the real difficulty we have. It’s been really successful and useful but we’d love for it to go out of business because we’d love there not to be that need.”
What have you got planned for 2016?
Peter: “Pope Francis has called a Holy Year, the Holy Year of Mercy began on 8th December.
“In Rome there’s a Holy Door in St Peters, opened by the Pope. Cathedrals around the year also have a Holy Door as a place of pilgrimage.
“For those who can’t make it to the Metropolitan Cathedral there are Holy Doors at Blessed Holy Cross in St Helens and St Mary’s in Leyland blessed by Archbishop Malcolm”.
Stuart: “At the Anglican we have our indoor abseil in January, a free-fall from the Corona Gallery, 120 ft. Anyone can take up the challenge.
“This year our Pentecost walk on Hope Street will be a whole celebration, bringing the churches together once again.”
Visit liverpoolcathedral.org.uk and liverpoolmetrocathedral.org.uk.
To find out more about the hope+ food bank click here.