ORGANISERS of the Britain's largest Jubilee Year Mass have announced with confidence that the event is likely to be a huge success, writes Greg Watts.
Fears were mounting that the organisers of the National Jubilee Mass, at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, on Bank Holiday Monday May 29, might not be able to recover the £100,000 the event is costing. However, all the bishops of England and Wales will be present, with 400 priests, and a 350-strong choir, while a congregation of 10,000 people are expected to converge on the event, organised by the Catenians, the Union of Catholic Mothers, the Catholic Women's League and the Knights of St Columba.
John Barry, coordinator of the National Jubilee Mass committee, said: "We feel that the C.atholic population needs to stand up and be counted in the Jubilee Year of the birth of Our Lord because the country is so pagan. Cardinal Hume talked about the Jubilee Mass as a pilgrimage."
He admitted that demand for 10,000 tickets had been slow, but added: "There seems to have been a blockage to the parishes. The strategy was that we would start our publicity before Christmas. We sent out posters in November but many didn't reach their destination. When we detected a lack of response I wrote to all the bishops in January asking for help."
Mgr Nicholas Rothon, a member of the organising committee for the Mass, believes the event will be a memorable one. He said: "I hope it will be one of those times, like the Mass at Wembley in 1950 or the Masses celebrated by the Pope, when people will look back and say,
'I was there'. It is one of the big events during this Jubilee Year."
At the Mass two young Catholics will be commissioned to represent the bishops' conference at the World Youth Day in Rome in August. Economics student Laura Pugh, 19, and Matthew Holden, 23, an audio-visual technician, will be sent to Rome as ''ambassadors" of Catholic youth in England and Wales.