Yesterday the Bishop of Shrewsbury opened the doors of Shrewsbury Cathedral to the public for the first time in 88 days. Like all Catholic churches throughout the country, Shrewsbury Cathedral closed on 20th March amid a huge national effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
But the Rt Rev. Mark Davies, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, re-opened the cathedral for the first time since the lockdown after the Government last week permitted private prayer in “Covid-secure” places of worship.
The easing of the restrictions mean that up to about 10 people at one time can enter the cathedral to pray individually as long as social-distancing and other hygiene standards are observed.
Volunteers are working within the cathedral to regulate the flow of visitors and to make sure that pews are cleaned after each use.
The cathedral is now open for private prayer from 10am to 3pm from Monday to Saturday and from 12 noon to 3pm on Sundays.
Bishop Davies said the re-opening of more than 50 churches across the Shrewsbury Diocese for private and individual prayer represented the “first step” towards full public celebration of Mass and the Sacraments.
Bishop Davies said: “Following the long weeks of lockdown, it was with great joy that I unlocked and re-opened the doors of Shrewsbury Cathedral. It was a sad day in March when we had to close those same doors to the people of the town. We’ve been amazed by the tens of thousands of people joining us week after week via livestream for daily Mass and services. It is an indication of the spiritual hunger for which this first stage of the re-opening of churches for quiet prayer will meet in anticipation of the return of public worship in the weeks and months ahead.”
Among a small group of people waiting outside the cathedral for the doors to open was local parishioner Catherine Beal of Shrewsbury.
“It is a great day. I have been looking forward to it,” she said. “It’s just nice to be able to come into God’s house as a neighbour and spend five minutes just in quiet prayer and contemplation. I am just going to kneel, or even sit, and enjoy the peace and spend a bit of time with Our Lord.
“We have been watching the services via the live stream but this is something we have missed over the last few months. It is also interesting to see what is happening in the cathedral because there are big changes taking place. I hope they will be able to continue with the improvements and renovations and soon we will all be able to attend services as normal.”