Art & Culture,  COVID-19,  Lifestyle,  Social Issues

Lichfield Cathedral & Vaccine Centre: ‘here to facilitate wholeness and healing’

Lichfield Cathedral seems an unusual site for a Covid vaccination centre, but through his photo reportage and interview with Canon Jan McFarlane, Sean Organ captures a deeper meaning in this being a place that provides good health.

“The Dean of Lichfield heard on the news that there was going to be the need for big vaccination centres. He just looked at this place across the road. We’ve got this huge space with lots of air flowing around it so it’s not a small, enclosed environment. We’ve got teams of volunteers who are very used to moving crowds around, because we have big events here at the cathedral. We’ve got a brilliant lay staff who were able to do all the coordinating. So, he contacted a number of the local GP surgeries in Lichfield and simply said ‘we’re here, if you want to use us’.”

Canon Jan McFarlane, Lichfield Cathedral

“To date, we’ve had nearly 7000 people come through our doors to receive their vaccinations. And of course, we started with the over 90-year-olds, so we learned a lot from that, because people were very slow on their feet and some of them hadn’t been out since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s been running like clockwork ever since.”

Canon Jan McFarlane, Lichfield Cathedral

People are just sitting and absorbing the Cathedral. At one stage we had music playing as well. We regularly hear comments like ‘Woah! What an amazing place!’

As the Dean said over and over again, there’s been a Catedral on this site for 700 years but a place of worship for around 1200 years. People have been flocking here for all that time, trying to find wholeness and healing.

All this nonsense that science and religion don’t mix, we don’t buy that at all … the Cathedral’s here to facilitate wholeness and healing.”

Canon Jan McFarlane, Lichfield Cathedral

“We do our morning prayer and at 8:00 am our Holy Communion at 12:30 pm and our evening prayer at 5:30 pm. They’re being recorded and live-streamed onto Facebook from one of the little side chapels. The clinic goes quiet from 12:30 pm – 1:00 pm when all the staff are on their lunch and the service goes on.Those of us leading worship just simply say ‘if you hear some background noise, it’s the clinic.’ There’s something very beautiful about celebrating in the middle of all this seeming chaos, which actually is an extremely well-organized clinic. Jesus came to bring wholeness and healing. We are remembering Christ in the middle of wholeness and healing. It’s quite moving in many ways.”

Canon Jan McFarlane, Lichfield Cathedral

We’ve got a time of reflection to try and get both the cathedral – and to assist the community too – to get back on their feet, and reflect on what the heck has just happened to us!

We’re very, very conscious that when things do return to the new normal, whatever that might look like, there’s going to be a great tsunami of grief. That’s going to come up and hit people. And people have also had an opportunity to reflect on their lives and to say: “actually, what are the things that really matter? What do I want to do? Do I want to go back to the crazy life that I lived before? Have my priorities changed as a result of what you’ve gone through?”

And if a cathedral is worth its salt, it’s going to be there to be able to help people reflect on what are the big things in life.

Canon Jan McFarlane, Lichfield Cathedral

Sean Organ is a Birmingham based documentary photographer, graduating from the University of the Arts, London. Along with studying a Masters, Sean is currently working with a number of charities across the West Midlands and as designer for St. Chad’s Cathedral’s Basilican magazine and other creative projects for the parish.

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