Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Novissima Hora Est

I do hope you will continue to follow this weblog, and draw inspiration and grace from this magnificent Cathedral. I have had the privilege of serving here for thirteen years of my priesthood, and will miss it mightily. My new appointment will be announced in the next few days - thank you for your support and kind comments and, above all, for your prayers.

A Final Visit to the Terrace

.. at least, under current management! The fine weather of the last few days has really brought on the flowers.

The sunflowers surge upwards; it will be interesting to see how they fare!

During my time here, the terrace has been a haven of peace away from the busy life of the Cathedral, and I have found much heart's ease at the end of the day in tending the plants.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

The Blog Continues ..!

Many of you have sent kind messages about the blog, and wondered whether it might continue. I've been in discussions with the Administrator (who is very keen that the blog continue) and with several other chaplains, and am delighted that Fr Tim Dean will take over the blog ( - he is already attired for business, above!), with other pictorial contributions from Fr Michael Archer (who has just purchased a super new camera).

I've hoped that this weblog has given some vision of the life behind the scenes at the Cathedral, as well as recording some of its great moments, and presenting (and indeed archiving) some of its rich history. Above all, I hope it has helped bring this extraordinary and glorious House of God to a wider audience. It is one of the duties of an Administrator to raise the profile of the Cathedral, and I have been gratified at the number of visitors who have told me that they have become aware of Westminster Cathedral through the blog.

I'll give my final posting tomorrow - but it is good to know it will mark only a stage in the continuing life of the blog!

Pond Life

The irises have come out in the pond, making a spectacular contrast with the flaming nasturtiums.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Congratulations, Fr Kingsley and Fr Edward

Today we had an opportunity to celebrate in Clergy House the priestly ordinations of Fr Kinsley Arulananthem and Fr Edward Houghton, last weekend. Both are of particular joy for the Cathedral; Fr Kingsley has been posted to the Cathedral, and moved into Clergy House this weekend. Fr Edward has been deacon with us for the past year, and will remain with us for the summer, until moving to his new appointment at Chiswick.

For the occasion, Sister Mericia delighted us again with an extraordinary cake - all set up ready for Mass!

It is particularly fitting that this joyful occasion should be one of my last postings, before the blog concludes next week. Please keep both Fr Kinsley and fr Edward in your prayers.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

The Choir School at work

Dominic Marshall, head of religious studies, takes a class in the Clergy House Library. Note the lap-top computers - how different from the pens and exercise books of my day!

Friday, 6 June 2008

St Francis Takes Shape

Amid building works within and without, another set of scaffolding goes up, as the Mosaic Workshop moves in to begin work on St Francis. With its pair of St Anthony, these are the work of Leonard McCombe RA - you can see the proposed design here.

Full sized cartoons are being applied; since the background features dozens of intricately detailed birds, it is something of a jigsaw puzzle. We hope that work will be finished by the autumn.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Working on the Steps

Not only is the interior of the Cathedral filled with scaffolding; work has also commenced on the new steps, which will incorporate ramps and so provide access for all.

This week, a wooden framework was put in place, marking the extent of the new steps and giving some idea of the scope of the finished project.

Work is due to continue until the autumn.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Padre Pio Premieres

Last night, the Cathedral hosted a concert of sacred music, performed by the Cathedral Choir and the celebrated musical ensemble 'The Sixteen'. The concert highlighted settings of the words of Padre Pio, set by the prominent Catholic composers James McMillan and Roxanna Panufnik.

These pictures were taken at rehearsals during the afternoon. The concert itself was a sell-out.

Spotted, during rehearsals, was the noted composer James McMillan, listening to the first performance of his new work.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Farewell, Fr Dwayne

Following six years of faithful service at the Cathedral, Fr Dwayne Bednar leaves today to return to the United States. Last night the chaplains went out to celebrate his time here, and thank him for his great contribution to the pastoral life of the Cathedral. It was also an occasion to bid farewell to Alan Alvarado, our splendid seminarian from Allen Hall, who has completed his year with us. We also welcomed Fr Michael Marchlewski, from America, who has spent summer at Westminster Cathedral for the last twenty years - his advent is always a sign that summer has arrived. A joyful, but poignant, evening, marking most of all the momentous changes that are taking place in the Cathedral staff this year.

Above, pictured left to right in the Clergy House common room, are: Fr Tim Dean, Fr Michael Marchlewski, Fr Dwayne Bednar, Alan Alvarado (in front), Fr Slawomir Witon (sub-administrator), Fr Christopher Tuckwell (Administrator), Fr Michael Archer.

Monday, 2 June 2008

A Tentative Summer

I came back to find that the plants on the Clergy House terrace were well established, although the recent cold, wet weather has not brought them on as much as might be expected. The sun-flowers are surging upward, and have been staked so that they do not block out light for plants below.

The fragrant nicotiana (in truth, a relative of the tobacco plant) is braving the cold, and is providing some gentle colour.

Nasturtiums are not nearly so reticent, and show forth a sunburst of bright flowers. These are edible, of course, should one feel peckish on the terrace!

The clergy heeded my pleas to water the plants while I was gone, but - as you can see - no weeding was done, so I will have to dive in this week!

Meanwhile in the courtyard of the complex (or 'base court' as Fr Tim has christened it), David Darby's garden is flourishing, providing a peaceful haven for staff and clergy.