29 January 2021

Five marks of mission and
Saint Mark’s Chapel with
an altar from Tarbert

The chapter and choir stalls in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During the present stage of the pandemic lockdown, while I am confined to a 5 km radius from the Rectory in Askeaton, Co Limerick, I am missing not only the regular round of Sunday services in the four churches in this group of parishes, but I am also missing my regular visits to Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick.

It is almost four years since I was installed as Precentor in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, on 17 February 2017. This is a chapter position that also involves Saint Flannan’s Cathedral, Killaloe, Co Clare, and Saint Brendan’s Cathedral, Clonfert, Co Galway. In recent months, I have been blogging occasionally about my predecessors as Precentor. In Anglican cathedral traditions, the Precentor is the canon who takes a particular interest in the liturgical and musical life of a cathedral.

Although in my case the role of Precentor is linked to the continuing ministerial education of priests in these dioceses, I have a natural instinct for and interest in cathedral liturgy and music, and miss those cathedral visits. Indeed, the pandemic lockdown and present circumstances do not mean that the joint cathedral chapter is frozen in Corona-land, far from it.

After a recent virtual meeting of the clergy of this diocese, the chapter members agreed to host a joint Lenten study this year, focussing on the five points of mission that have been agreed in the Anglican Communion:

1, To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
2, To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
3, To respond to human need by loving service
4, To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
5, To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth

Each chapter member has agreed to focus on one of these points of mission on successive weekday evenings throughout Lent, and I have undertaken to introduce the fourth point on injustice and violence, peace and reconciliation.

But more about this Lenten project as the details are finalised.

Inside Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Meanwhile, during my most recent visit to Saint Mary’s Cathedral last month, it was encouraging to see how new lighting has been installed in the chapter and choir stalls.

It was encouraging too to see how an altar on loan from Saint Brendan’s Church, Tarbert, Co Kerry, has found an appropriate place in Saint Mark’s Chapel and is being used for its original purpose instead of being hidden away in storage.

This side chapel in the cathedral is also known as the O’Brien Chapel, and was the traditional funerary chapel of the O’Brien family. Donal Mór O Brien, the last O’Brien King of Munster, made a gift of the site of his royal palace to the Church, and the cathedral was built on this site.

On Sundays, outside pandemic time, Saint Mark’s Chapel is used as worship space by the children in the cathedral congregation, and it is also been the venue for celebrations of the Euchaist before chapter meetings.

Collect on Saint Mark’s Day:

Almighty God,
who enlightened your holy Church
through the inspired witness of your evangelist Saint Mark:
Grant that we, being firmly grounded
in the truth of the gospel,
may be faithful to its teaching both in word and deed;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The altar in Saint Mark’s Chapel in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick … on loan from Saint Brendan’s Church, Tarbert (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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