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He is Risen! Standing room only at St Mary’s for Easter Triduum 2024

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Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP with the newly-baptised and received Catholics at the Easter vigil. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

No one told the standing-room only crowds at St Mary’s Cathedral that Christianity is on the wane, as thousands of people of all ages attended each of the sacred liturgies from Holy Thursday through to Easter Sunday.

Leading the celebrations was Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP who also helped to hand out 1200 Easter eggs to worshippers after the Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday Masses.

General manager of St Mary’s Cathedral precinct Helen Morassut said Easter attendance has grown steadily since 2020 when pandemic restrictions closed churches.

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But she said this year was easily the biggest with attendance peaking at an estimated 1400-2200 people and standing room only at the Good Friday, Holy Saturday vigil and Easter Sunday liturgies.

The crypt was opened for prayer later than usual on Holy Thursday, closing only at midnight with latecomers including people making the traditional seven churches pilgrimage.

“Despite the crowds, everyone on Holy Thursday and Good Friday was absolutely solemn and respectful,” Morassut said.

“But during the Saturday vigil, which starts with the blessing of the fire outside and entering the pitch-black cathedral, the whole atmosphere changed to a joyous celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.

“It was so beautiful, just absolutely amazing and always gives me goosebumps. Despite finishing quite late at around 10:40pm everyone came out quite elated.”

Archbishop Fisher also baptised nine catechumens and received four others into full communion with the Catholic Church during the Holy Saturday vigil.

Acting cathedral dean Fr Lewi Barakat said he felt especially grateful celebrating this Easter at St Mary’s, his last as its master of ceremonies after five years in the role.

“It is always a beautiful place to worship for Holy Week and many people work hard behind the scenes to help ensure it will be a profound experience for all who attend, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, following Our Lord Jesus through his Passion, death and resurrection,” he said.

“This year it was wonderful to see so many people come from all walks of life, some that I know have faced great challenges in the past year.

“Our sacred liturgies communicate a message so incredibly real and uplifting for them and Archbishop Fisher preached so well, it was truly edifying for me and a wonderful way to conclude my time assisting the archbishop as his master of ceremonies.

“There’s nothing more important for Catholics than our worship, everything we are about flows from our liturgy.

“I hope I’ve been able to contribute in a meaningful way to the worship and life of our cathedral and all its people.”

St Mary’s newly-minted director of music Daniel Justin said his first Pascal Triduum was a “great privilege.”

“It was, without doubt, the largest celebration of Holy Week I’ve ever been a part of,” he said.

“The cathedral choristers and lay clerks sang to their usual wonderfully high standard, with a range of music from the ninth century right the way through to music written only a few days before.”

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