So, at long last Archbishop George has been installed as seventh Archbishop of Cardiff - my fourth boss since ordination. I tell you - I didn't wash my hand all evening after the Mass yesterday because I gave the sign of peace to one cardinal and three archbishops!
But seriously it was a beautiful celebration in my opinion.
Fr T and I took a taxi into town and joined the huge gang of clergy robing in the crypt of the chapel opposite the cathedral, where the (digital) bells were ringing out. At 11.20 the clergy started to process in, but we canons (ahem) loitered outside as we were to form part of the main procession, just before the bishops of England and Wales. And so I took my place in the Canon's Stalls (hooray!).
Eventually at the stroke of noon Archbishop George arrived at the doors and knocked hard on them. Soon the Bull of Appointment was being read and accepted, and he was being led to his cathedra or throne and receiving the crozier from Archbishop Peter, his predecessor. We canons were one of the groups to welcome him personally so I got to shake hands. He has a charming smiling face. And so the Mass progressed in a very dignified way. I was sat behind Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and Archbishops Nichols, Longley and Smith - and grandstand view.
Afterwards we all strolled over to the Marriott for a hot buffet lunch, and we got home soon after 4.
When the archbishop was seated on his cathedra he was alone for a few moments, and I thought about how lonely a position it must be at times. The buck truly stops there in many aspects of church life. Then a little later the thought occurred to me that behind this wonderful ceremony, hidden as it were, lay scenes of some fishermen called by the lakeshore of Galilee, an intimate supper on a Thursday evening in Jerusalem, and another gathering in Jerusalem when a gale started to blow. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide George, that the Father will shepherd him so that he can truly shepherd us, and that he will know that Jesus walks by his side through every moment of the times to come.