Friday, 2 May 2014

Installation of Archbishop Malcolm McMahon

Liverpool's ninth Archbishop was installed on the Feast of St Joseph the Worker this week. Archbishop Malcolm McMahon was translated from Nottingham, having been Bishop there for thirteen years. He certainly seemed on good form in the packed Cathedral, which seats 2,300 people.  A new bishop is always of interest to the priests of the diocese, of course, so I'm glad that he's someone I already know and look forward to working with.  We're offering Mass for his intentions and sending a Spiritual Bouquet to welcome him from the parish - no doubt, in getting to grips with his new diocese, he will need plenty of prayers and support.

Bishops processing in.

The picture above is one of the choristers singing the psalm.  I've included it for the extraordinary Ambo (given in recent years in memory of a deceased priest) - it depicts two Sea Eagles - in other words, the Liver Birds of Liverpool Fame!

The Cathedral has an excellent choir, although I can't say I'm always enamoured of all the choices of music. At the Mass there was a good enough mix of old and new to keep everyone happy.  I'm not a great fan of the building itself - even the beautiful chant sung by the choir didn't arouse the usual pious feelings in me, as the setting of such a peculiar (in the sense of unique) ecclesiastical building just doesn't do it -  for me, at least.  Another thing I noticed is that, despite being in the round, which is meant to allow everyone equal access to the "action" centre stage, you can't actually see what's going on very well.  The sanctuary in the centre is at a height that even at the High Altar manages to be just at the height of the rows of heads in front of you.  You can't even get a glimpse of the main processions going in and out as there is no "central" aisle.

It was very good to see that the Episcopal Chair of previous years has gone - presumably permanently, as the new Cathedra has the Archbishop's Coat of Arms emblazoned on it.  Actually, I understand that this much more noble Cathedra is in fact the old one brought back up from below!  For many years the Archbishop's Chair has been a rather low level cushioned seat in a sort of G-Plan design, so undistinguished that a sign on the side of the raised platform on which it stood had to tell you what it was! Symbols should always speak for themselves!

Photographs from the Catholic Church Flickr site, where you can see some more.

And finally, I came across this old footage of a former Archbishop of Liverpool being installed as Archbishop of Westminster. Liturgically, much more to my own tastes, of course!  I do like the description by the commentator of Archbishop Heenan as "at once humble and dynamic".  Epithets any Archbishop would surely want attached to his name!


Parate Viam Domini said...

In charity - 2 things arouse my curiosity:

i. Why the need for all the females (both old and young) in the Sanctuary?

ii. Why does Roger Mahony turn up (like a bad penny) for most of the big 'Catholic' events in England? He's not that welcome in the USA you know why when you review his dreadful record in Los Angeles

Sadie Vacantist said...

Was JH barefooted as he approached the sanctuary? Curious that in 1963 no one thought ill of the Church for such an ostentatious display. It was also an "enthronement" rather than an "installation". The latter term I associate with my broadband. The whole ceremony looked less vulgar than a concelebrated Mass.

ACC92 said...

I'm always curious, having looked at the pictures, how come Bishop Conry never wears a zuchetto?

holysmoke94 said...

For the same varyingly spurious reasons as those of Archbishop-Emeritus Kelly of Liverpool. 'We don't wear two hats.' This is one of those rare occasions when ++Kelly has actually dusted it off for the occasion - note it down as a rare moment in history!

Anonymous said...

I note in the Pathe clip that even in 1963, the Archbishop of Westminster was referred to as the leader of the Catholic Church in Britain, long before the BBC incorrectly imposed it!

Kevin Jones