More work was done to the Newry Cathedral by later generations in the twentieth century and into the new millennium. The great organ was rebuilt and electrified in 1929. During the 1950s under the direction of Bishop Eugene O’Doherty a sound system was installed, much of the seating was renewed and a new lighting system put in place.
Another generation later and flood-lighting was installed in 1979. A handsome Chapter Room was built to the rear of the Cathedral in 1984. And just last year the extensive Parish Centre and priest’s quarters was complete across the street at the ‘Parochial House’. This year of 2007 saw the granite exterior of the Cathedral sand-blasted and power-hosed to bring our the original grey granite sheen.
Much of the more recent work was undertaken to reflect the innovations of the Second Vatican Council. The base of the Sanctuary was extended towards the congregation and most of the tradition Communion rail removed to bring priest and people into closer spiritual proximity. The present marble altar was erected. The turreted Reredos of the former High Altar was reconstructed in three parts. Each section was placed on a new marble plinth, the central piece adorned with the Tabernacle and Crucifix.
The Bishop’s Throne was moved from the rear to the front of the Sanctuary to be more in touch with the entire congregation. The Baptismal Font was relocated from the base of the tower (in the side porch) to St Joseph‘s Chapel at the south side of the Sanctuary area. The extension of the latter allowed easier and more immediate access to the Cathedral Pulpit, now much more frequently used. Additional mosaic flooring was added and a Roman firm ‘Domus Dei’ was entrusted with this delicate work. Their handiwork can be seen in the Sanctuary area, the new passages of the Transepts and around the Altar steps. Accompanying these larger structural developments was the instillation of new heating, sound and lighting systems in 1990.
Finally on a commission from former Bishop Brooks, Dominican sculptor Father Henry Flanagan presented a carved statue of Saint Colman to the Cathedral in November 1991. It was located at the end (the street entrance) of the north aisle of Our Ladies’ transept.
To the present day our Cathedral is ever-open in daylight hours, providing regular Mass and services for the faithful and an oasis of calm and prayerful reflection for the city’s shoppers. Daily ten-thirty Mass sees the Cathedral more than half-full on a regular basis. Visiting priests comment favourably on the faithfulness of our congregations. They are inspired to divine worship by the sheer grandeur of their surroundings.
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