Professor Donnelly's Liverpool Introduction in 2008
Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Thank you Dean for those words of welcome. It is a privilege and a pleasure once again to be here in this magnificent cathedral to celebrate the 10th year of our Pause for Hope services. We have, of course, been here before and who can forget the occasion when Bishop David Sheppard gave that inspiring homily just a short while before he died. Due to ill health he had not preached for something like two years and there was great doubt whether his condition would allow him to attend but he was determined to be there. What was more remarkable than his homily was the fact that he had processed into the cathedral in a wheelchair looking ill and drawn and cold but when he left at the end of the service he literally bounced down the aisle with Grace on his arm, colour in his cheeks and a sparkle in his eye. I was so pleased to have been instrumental in giving him that last opportunity to preach in his beloved cathedral and to observe the effect that the Pause for Hope service had had on him. He seemed to acquire new energy and hope and that is what the services have been about - to bring new hope to those affected directly or indirectly by cancer by putting ourselves without reservation in the hands of our Father in heaven and to ask him to bring that day forward when all cancers can be either prevented or cured because that day will surely come but we must all pray that it comes quickly. In the meantime we must do all we can to relieve the physical and mental suffering that cancer inevitably brings with it. As for that suffering which we cannot at present relieve, well Roy Castle had a wonderful way of accepting this as being God's will for him. "It's not what I want" he said on Radio Merseyside "but if it's what God wants, then it's all right by me. You get on the bus and you trust the driver!" What great faith he had - he never lost hope even in his darkest hours and in fact came closer to God because of them - he was a great example to us all. So, ten years of Pause for Hope - bringing hope and consolation to all those who have attended the services and the many more who, for one reason or another could not be there but were able to listen to the highlights on Radio Merseyside. This is a special occasion and we are very grateful indeed to Bishop Jones for giving his time to be with us today and we will listen carefully to what he has to say later on. Thank you also to the Lord Mayor and the Vice Lord Lieutenant, and to the Mayors of Wirral, Knowsley and St Helens, senior representatives of the Police, Fire and Ambulance services, to the choirs of St Anne's School, Huyton, and the Birkenhead Operatic Society, to Linda McDermott and Roger Phillips who have contributed to every service since the early days and I am particularly pleased that Bro Ken Vance has been able to join us today since he was very instrumental in helping me get the initiative off the ground ten years ago. Finally a special word of thanks to the small group of volunteers who have helped me over the years to arrange the services, without them it would have been impossible. Perhaps when you light your candles later on you can remember to say a special prayer for them.