Canon Peter Howell-Jones, currently Vice-Dean of Chester Cathedral, will be formally installed as the new Dean on March 25 next year.
But he made his first public appearance on Saturday to be welcomed by people representing many sections of the cathedral’s life, including clergy, administrative staff, choirs, the cathedral chapter, bell ringers and other organisations like the Mothers’ Union, Friends of the Cathedral, Friends of Cathedral Music and many members of the regular congregation.
As if to emphasise the informality of the occasion, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev. Julian Henderson came out of the south transept to stand in the centre nave in front of the choir stalls to make the introduction.
He said he was delighted to welcome Canon Peter to the Cathedral, who had proved to be a very experienced and dedicated candidate who had come through to be selected from a final shortlist of five.
Bishop Julian added: “Apart from his wealth of experience which he has gained through his ministry, Canon Peter has many interests outside of the church. He enjoys walking, cycling, skiing, cooking … and looking after hens!”
Current Acting Dean and Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev. Philip North, also gave a warm welcome to Canon Peter, telling him that he was going to be in charge of a very vibrant community and a very inspiring building, recently extended with the spectacular new Cathedral Court.
In reply, Canon Peter said it was wonderful to see so many people turning out to welcome him and his family.
He added: “I am looking forward to being involved with the community of the cathedral, the town and the diocese. I come with very great excitement and hope to carry on all the good work that has been happening here.
“The building is inspirational. When I came through the West Door for the first time I was struck by the fact that it is light and airy – not like so many of our ancient but often gloomy cathedrals.
Canon Peter concluded: “To be part of a Diocese which is so clearly focussed on growth and mission through Vision 2026: Healthy Churches Transforming Communities is very exciting and I look forward to being able to lead the Cathedral in actively contributing to this work in the years to come.
“I am praying for Blackburn Cathedral; its staff and congregation and I am looking forward to meeting and working closely with as many as possible as my wife and I prepare for the move … and begin the search for adoptive parents for the hens!”
There was then a burst of spontaneous applause before Canon Peter, with wife Sian and daughter Annie, spent time meeting with many those who had gathered for the event over refreshments in the Cathedral’s crypt area.
Written by: Miriam Emenike
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