Friday, December 01, 2006

Return to the Alma Mater by the Tyne

Last Friday night I went to the Mass to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the opening of my old school, St Cuthbert`s Grammar. ( It is, alas, no longer a grammar school and doesn`t even appear to teach Latin anymore.) I enjoyed my time at St Cuthbert`s as a boy. I would often get to school early to serve Mass in the chapel in the priests` house. This Mass was always celebrated ad orientem. Once, in sixth form, we were asked whether we wanted to have a class Mass in the modern, facing the people, chapel or the chapel in the priests` house and the vote was overwhelmingly in favour of the latter. Vox populi, vox Dei! The old central block of classrooms is about to be demolished so this was a last opportunity to see them. I hadn`t been back since I left in 1978 so it was strange to be there again. I feared the worst for the liturgy but was delighted to see that the wooden reredos from the chapel in the priests` house, with its pictures of northern saints had been transferred to the chapel in the main hall. I`m sure that not so long ago it would have been chopped up and thrown out. The new small daily chapel in the former library is also quite tasteful by modern standards and even has a decent altar and centrally placed tabernacle. I took pictures of the reredos on my mobile phone but can`t get the software to work at the minute to transfer them as yet. All in all I was quite encouraged by the whole event. Who knows, one day the school might even get around to updating the list of old boys who have become priests ( which seems to have stopped in 1964) to include the six who concelebrated the Mass together with the bishop and eight other priests.

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