English Cathedral Aims for 24-Hour Open Door Policy
Volunteers Being Trained to Keep Watch
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NOTTINGHAM, England, FEB. 6, 2004 (Zenit.org).- St. Barnabas Cathedral has joined forces with police and social services to train volunteers to keep the church doors open around the clock, seven days a week.
The Watch and Pray program involves a group of parishioners who devote one hour a week to keeping watch at the cathedral. This enables the building to stay open to visitors, defying the growing trend of churches locking their doors outside of Mass times.
Already 25 people have signed up for the scheme, and organizers have appealed for more. They say they need at least 100 volunteers, to work in small teams. Nottinghamshire police and authorities back the idea and have offered training in handling difficult situations.
Monsignor Tom McGovern said the "cathedral used to be open 12 hours a day every day, but there have been a few thefts and other criminal offenses and, although such incidents are rare, we've been forced to lock the doors when there's nobody around."
"This is a step of faith by the mother church of the diocese," the priest said. "Our recent diocesan assembly revealed that people from far and wide want to come to the cathedral, and we're expecting an increase in visitor numbers."
Thousands visit the cathedral each year. Some come for prayer, some to inquire about the Catholic faith, and others to enjoy the Pugin architecture or to visit the tomb of Nottingham's Mary Potter whose process of beatification is under way.