Important step for St. Mel's Cathedral

Almost 14 months on from the day of the fire that destroyed St Mel's Cathedral, the project has taken another important step with the appointment of architects to the design team overseeing the restoration of the cathedral.

Almost 14 months on from the day of the fire that destroyed St Mel's Cathedral, the project has taken another important step with the appointment of architects to the design team overseeing the restoration of the cathedral.

Having ironed out the finer details in relation to the architects, and thereby finalising the core design team, it was fitting therefore that Bishop Colm O'Reilly was able to announce the latest cathedral development on Sunday last during his homily at Mass on the feast day of St. Mel.

Lead architect will be Dr Richard Hurley, of Richard Hurley and Associates Architects along with architect Colm Redmond, from Fitzgerald, Kavanagh and Partners. They will join Interactive Project Managers Ltd, Bishop Colm and Seamus Butler, chairperson of the St. Mel's Cathedral Project committee, on the design team.

However, rather than its future being decided by the committee, one of the key messages coming out of Sunday's announcement was that the new cathedral should reflect what the parishioners want.

Among the many ideas being proposed is that the sanctuary should be moved further down the nave and closer to the people.

"It's 25 years since there was a liturgical intervention and things have moved forward and I think what we're looking at now is a liturgical formation which is going to last certainly into the next century, if not well beyond," said Dr Hurley, speaking last Sunday.

"The great emphasis will be on the location of the altar as a central focus point of the entire cathedral, with the Bishop's chair, in a less prominent position than it was heretofore because, the bishop will say, the former position was authoritarian position (higher location), whereas the new position will be an authoritative position. "

Seamus Butler, however, stressed that the decisions will only be made following the consultation period, which he indicated would get underway in the coming weeks.

"The important thing to emphasise here is that no decision has been made and no decision will be made until there is full, meaningful consultation right across the board.

"We're forming focus groups and we're inviting submissions from anybody who has an interest in it from the Diocese.

"We want people to buy into the idea and be part of it and that's going to be critical to the process. From next month on, people will be hearing about this process. That is critical. I think the day of handing down the tablets from on high and saying 'this is it' is gone."