Forty years ago, in October 1983, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd John Taylor, welcomed the Revd Donald Lee and Fr Robert Plourde as Free Church and Roman Catholic ecumenical chaplains of St Albans Cathedral. This was followed by the first of regular services in each of these traditions which continue to this day. Alongside this, St Albans Cathedral hosts regular services by a German Lutheran congregation, itself enjoying its 50th anniversary, a monthly Orthodox Liturgy. Despite much ecumenical progress, even now, this bold experiment remains unique among cathedrals and is a significant good news story.

It is easy to forget the initial impact of this initiative, not least with the celebration of the first Roman Catholic Mass on Friday 14 October 1983. Such was the level of national interest drawing a certain amount of protest that members of St Columba’s College rugby team were recruited as servers alongside the celebrant Fr Robert Plourde. Now, alongside these regular services, many members of other churches actively part of nearly every aspect of Cathedral life, including as day chaplains who are available for visitors. 

‘We are delighted to be celebrating this highly significant celebration. Whilst progress of official ecumenical dialogues remains frustratingly slow, this bottom up ecumenism remains an invaluable gift and sign of what is possible, and, we pray, a step on the journey towards full unity.’ The Revd Dr Kevin Walton, Canon Kevin Walton.

‘Catholics who live In Hertfordshire have access to such an outstanding and historical building as St Albans Cathedral, the Shrine of Britain's first Saint and Martyr and the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in this country. We have been privileged to foster the ecumenical dimension of the Catholic Church’s teaching by celebrating Mass each Friday with the hospitality shown by the Cathedral and its staff. Each week between 80 and 90 people attend. There can be no other example of this kind of collaboration anywhere in the UK. The 40th anniversary celebration will be an occasion of great thanksgiving.’ Rev. Monsignor H. Turner.

Join us for a very special Evensong on Sunday at 6pm, with the Bishop of St Albans as the Preacher.