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Thousands expected. Preparations underway for Cardinal Pell’s Funeral.

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Huge turnout is expected for final farewell

The Archdiocese of Sydney is pulling out all stops to remember and pray for Cardinal George Pell at a Solemn Pontifical Mass of Christian Burial at St Mary’s Cathedral on Thursday 2 February, including a motet especially composed for the occasion.

Preparations have been underway for the last fortnight at the Cathedral for the event which is expected to draw the largest attendance the country has seen for the burial of any Catholic Church leader since the funeral of Melbourne Archbishop Daniel Mannix in 1963.

The Mass for the individual from Ballarat who rose to be eighth Archbishop of Australia’s senior archdiocese, a cardinal and eventually the first Prefect for the Economy of the Vatican will commence at 11am.

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Among mourners will be VIPs from across NSW and Australian life, Australian bishops including the Pope’s personal representative in Australia, papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Balvo, hundreds of clergy from the archdiocese and beyond, religious orders, papal orders and ordinary Australians.

Large television screens will be erected in the St Mary’s Cathedral forecourt to accommodate the large numbers of mourners expected to attend and pay their respects to the deceased cardinal who served as Archbishop of Sydney from 2001-2014.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP will be the principal celebrant, which will be open to the public and also livestreamed on the St Mary’s Cathedral You Tube Channel, prior to the Cardinal’s burial in a private ceremony in the cathedral crypt.

Cathedral Dean Fr Don Richardson said thousands of mourners from Australia and overseas are expected to attend one of the most significant ever held in Australia’s oldest cathedral.
“Cardinal Pell loved St Mary’s Cathedral, and always sought to enhance provisions for the liturgical, musical and devotional aspects of the cathedral’s life, as well as the pastoral.

“I was assistant priest at the Cathedral and became the new Archbishop’s Master of Ceremonies when he was transferred here from the See of Melbourne, so I came to know him as a friend as well as a bishop, as did several of the current lay staff at St Mary’s.

Cardinal Pell loved St Mary’s Cathedral, and always sought to enhance provisions for the liturgical, musical and devotional aspects of the cathedral’s life …”

“It is a privilege, but a very sad one, to be preparing for his funeral and burial at St Mary’s Cathedral.”

St Mary’s director of music Thomas Wilson said the music for the Mass has been selected with regard to Cardinal Pell’s support and encouragement of sacred music in Australia, and around the world.

An organist adjusts the stops at his console during Christmas Midnight Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral in 2022. The Solemn Pontifical Mass of Christian Burial for Cardinal George Pell on 2 February will be a unique moment in the life of the Church in Australia. As it is celebrated a motet especially composed for the ceremony will be performed. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“It includes the hymn ‘Firmly I believe and truly’, with its text by St John Henry Newman, which was chosen by Cardinal Pell for his Mass of Installation as Archbishop of Sydney in 2001,” Mr Wilson said.

“‘Love Divine, all loves excelling’ was chosen by His Eminence for the Opening of Domus Australia in Rome in 2011, attended by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, and it was also sung at the Archdiocesan Mass of Farewell for the Cardinal in 2014.”

The motet – a short piece of sacred choral music – was specially commissioned for the farewell of Australia’s best-known religious leader and churchman.

“Sir James MacMillan is one of the foremost composers in the world today. His music has been inspired by his Catholic faith, and he has completed many significant Sacred works,” Mr Wilson said.

The Motet ‘Do not be afraid’ was composed especially for this Mass, taking the text from the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, and infusing this with Cardinal Pell’s motto: ‘Do not be afraid’.

Cardinal Pell’s body will lie in state in the cathedral from the time of its reception there at 9.30am on Wednesday 1 February.

For mourners unable to attend the Requiem Mass on 2 February or who wish to pray separately, there will be a Mass for the Dead at St Mary’s Cathedral on Wednesday 1 February at 1.10pm and 8pm.

There will also be an Evening Prayer and Vigil for the repose of the Cardinal’s soul on Wednesday 1 February at 5.30pm.

Watch the live-stream of the Solemn Pontifical Mass of Christian Burial of Cardinal George Pell AC HERE.

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