With the closure of St. Andrew’s Cathedral for major repair and renovation work, the Archdiocese of Glasgow experienced an unusual and, for the majority of those attending, a unique service, the marking of the establishment of a church as Pro-Cathedral where the Archbishop’s chair (his “cathedra”) will be placed until the Cathedral is once more available. As the Mass leaflet for the service noted, the cathedra is the “sign of the Archbishop’s teaching office and pastoral power in the diocese and of….the unity of believers”. The creation of St. Mary’s as Pro-Cathedral was marked by a Mass at which Archbishop Conti formally took his seat in the sanctuary and the Decree creating St. Mary’s new status was read.
Appropriately the Mass was held on 15 August, the Solemnity of the Assumption. The church was beautifully decorated for the occasion and a number of priests, including Mgr. McElroy, the Adminstrator of St. Andrews, and Mgr. Smith, the Parish Priest of St. Mary’s, joined the Archbishop for the celebration. The music of the Mass was led by the St. Mungo Singers.
The service opened with the Magnificat. The Psalm of the feast is Psalm 44,which was sung to the setting by Dr. Noel Donnelly. The Marian theme was continued with the hymn “Mary the Dawn and Christ the light of day” during the preparation of the gifts. After the Communion, the Archbishop inaugurated the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, as the congregation sang “Sweet Sacrament Divine”. The Mass finished with the singing of “Salve Regina” and the recessional hymn “Mary, Full of Grace” (to the tune of “O Sanctissima”).
In his homily, Archbishop Conti, who had celebrated the Vigil of the Assumption in St. Andrew’s Cathedral before its closure, referred the congregation to the readings of the Mass. The people of Israel in the first reading were a people on the move. The Church too is a pilgrim people and God is with us, not in the Ark of the Covenant but in the Eucharist wherever it is celebrated. The Feast of the Assumption confirms us in our faith, for Mary bore the Lord in faith before she conceived him in her womb.