From time to time Mary Clare Mason spends a day as chaplain at the Anglican Cathedral in Peterborough.
For her it is a way of living out one of the Orientations of the 2010 Chapter….
“Weaving Bonds of Fraternity” ……
To make space for the other by listening ….. It is also an ecumenical activity.
« As I walk around the Cathedral that is the role that I adopt. I meet people who come from all over the world.
The Cathedral houses the burial place of Katherine of Aragon (1485 – 1536), the first wife of Henry 8th. This emblematic figure in the history of the English Reformation has stayed in popular memory. Widely regarded by many as a saint because of her fidelity to the Catholic Faith, many come to pray at her shrine.
Two side chapels in the cathedral are reserved as places of prayer and quiet reflection, where the chaplain can share more deeply with visitors.
Here are two meetings that made an impression on me :
- A first meeting with a couple from Australia who were pleased to hear about the work realised together between the different Faith Groups and the local Authority,” in order build bridges between cultures in reciprocal movement, where difference becomes an opportunity”, (Chapter Orientations 2010), something which they would like to see happening back in their home country.
- A second meeting with a Canadian Woman from Toronto, of Portuguese background but living in Qatar. Recently separated from her husband and far from home, she needed a listening ear.
As the Cathedral is close to one of the regional Passport Offices, it attracts people who are waiting for their passport to be made available. They come into one of the less well known cathedrals but leave full of admiration for the beauty of the building. Many end their visit by just sitting in the nave, contemplating the majesty of the Cathedral as well as absorbing its prayerful atmosphere.
On the hour I lead a moment of prayer from the grand pulpit – it is quite moving to see people stop and bow their heads as they listen to the short passage from Scripture being read aloud.
My “day as a chaplain” ends by participating in Evensong (Vespers) and reading one of the Scripture passages. I return home exhausted but with the knowledge that “my encounters have allowed God to be revealed in simplicity and the free gift of self.”
Mary Clare Mason