Over recent months several changes have taken place in and around the cathedral. As the work of restoring the glory of our mother church continues, we have made some improvements to the interior of the cathedral which we’ll document in the weeks ahead. We’ll also be looking at some of the more hidden treasures that perhaps you may miss during your time here and areas that you wouldn’t normally be able to access.
Perhaps the most immediately visible change to the cathedral interior is the benches that have replaced the chairs that were placed on the side aisles of the nave and in both transepts. The benches have been brought to the cathedral from St Joseph’s church, Ordsall, which closed last March. St Joseph’s parish has amalgamated with the cathedral to form the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel & St Joseph – the cathedral parish.
In addition to the installation of the benches, the choir seating and organ have now also been relocated to allow for more seating in the nave. The organ is now situated to the left of the main altar whilst the choir seating is now directly behind the main altar.
There is a very practical need for this change. As building work continues in the locality and Manchester city centre expands, the number of parishioners is growing and with it the attendance at Mass each week; and so more seating is needed for when we return to the days of full attendance at Mass following the easing of restrictions and when it is safe to do so.
Whilst visually the pews are a huge improvement to the chairs that were in place previously, for parishioners having the benches from St Joseph’s means much more than an aesthetic change, as Traycie, a lifelong parishioner of St Joseph’s, explains:
“I think it’s totally amazing that the benches have been brought over to the cathedral. I’ve probably sat in nearly every one of them over the years at St Joseph’s. It’s like a part of history that will follow us and is actually quite emotional. Amalgamation is not easy and although everyone here has really welcomed us, to have these benches and statues from St Joseph’s here in the cathedral, it makes us feel like we are part of the cathedral, it feels like home.”