The Very Rev John Mann was installed in St Anne’s Cathedral in a service which beautifully reflected the personality and spirituality of the new Dean.
The Cathedral was filled almost to capacity and in his greeting at the start of the service, the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, said the numbers of clergy and guests present spoke volumes of the regard in which Dean Mann is held.
The Bishop described Dean Mann as ‘a man of prayer.’ “You will be bringing a prayerful, healing presence to this place,” he said.
During the service on August 30, Dean Mann was also instituted as Vicar of the Cathedral Parish. Guests included representatives of community life in the city, the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, visiting Bishops and leaders of the other main denominations in Northern Ireland.
The Dean was presented for institution into the Cathedral Parish by the Archdeacon of Belfast, the Ven Barry Dodds, and the Act of Institution was conducted by the Bishop of Connor. The former rector of St John’s Parish, Malone, was installed as Dean of Belfast by the Cathedral Chancellor, the Archdeacon of Down, the Ven Philip Patterson. He was then presented to the people by the Bishop of Connor, and welcomed by Bishop Noel Treanor, Roman Catholic Bishop of Down and Dromore, on behalf of all the church leaders.
During the service the new Dean was presented with symbols of the teaching, pastoral and sacramental ministry of an incumbent. These included a Bible (to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ), a container of water (recognising that the Cathedral is a place of Christian baptism), a Book of Common Prayer (demonstrating the primary role of the Dean to lead public worship and encourage a life of personal devotion), bread and wine (the elements of holy communion), oil (symbolic of healing and reconciliation), the key to the Cathedral (as a reminder that the Cathedral is a place to be kept open for all people) and a towel (as a reminder of Christ washing his disciples’ feet and of the ministry of service and support of those in need and in trouble).
The service began with Evening Prayer, followed by the central section which formally and legally instituted, installed and welcomed Dean Mann, who preached the sermon. In this Dean Mann urged people to draw a line under the past and discover a new vision for the future. A summary and full text of the sermon can be downloaded here.
At the request of the new Dean, a period of silence and reflection followed. It included music played on the harp by Mary McKeague, a member of the Focolare Movement. Katy Nichols from St John’s Malone sang a solo ‘the Grail Prayer’ accompanied by members of the St John’s Instrumental Group, Katherine Sung (violin), Amanda Marsh (clarinet), Sarah Montgomery (cello) and Linda Montgomery (piano). The young people all performed beautifully, the sounds and melodies resonating throughout the Cathedral.
A period of stillness and silence followed, after which the congregation was led in prayer by the Monks of Holy Cross Monastery in Rostrevor, a community committed to unity and reconciliation. This was again a moving and memorable experience.
Dean Mann (56) is married to Helen, a Practice Nurse, and the couple have a daughter, Rowan and a son, David.
Speaking before his installation Dean Mann said: “I am looking forward to starting at St Anne’s and being part of what is a wonderful place with many fine people. The cathedral is very light and bright and reflects the past in works of art and symbols of faith and work and the vision of its architects and builders. It also stands as a constant reminder of the place of Christian worship at the heart of many people’s lives, especially at moments of both celebration and grief.
“It is a place where the individual can find a quiet place for prayer, and where the crowd may gather in sorrow or joy and unite its heart as one.”
Following the service guests were invited to the nearby Art College for refreshments.