On its Patronal Festival last Sunday, St Fin Barre’s Cathedral closed a year of celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the consecration of the present building with a Festive Choral Evensong.
Present were members of the Cathedral Chapter, ecumenical guests and representatives of the Army and Navy, as well as the Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork Mary Rose Desmond and An Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Recorded video greetings were played during the service from the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, the Most Rev. John McDowell, and from the Archbishop of Dublin and former Dean of Cork, the Most Rev. Michael Jackson.
At the beginning of the service Nicholas O’Neill, the winning composer of the 150th Anniversary Composition Competition, was interviewed via a Zoom call and discussed his canticles with Director of Music Peter Stobart. His Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis on B flat were premiered during the service by the Cathedral Choir, accompanied on the organ by Assistant Director of Music Robbie Carroll.
The Very Rev. Nigel Dunne, Dean of Cork, said in his sermon:
On 21 January 1862, following years of debate about the unsuitability and poor repair of the eighteenth century cathedral and its medieval tower, the Chapter of St Fin Barre’s … resolved to ‘… raise a monument of Christian zeal, love and piety to the Almighty giver of all our blessings … and thus leave a witness to the faith, liberality and self-denial of our present age, to our children’s children.’
So, although we might be a bit wary of words like zeal and piety nowadays, … I think we are in a very different space, one where words like inclusion, welcome, love, community, outreach, prayer, sanctuary, and mindfulness have all come to the fore – not least in relation to the way we express our Christian life and witness here at St Fin Barre’s in the 21st century.