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Long-serving St Stephen’s Cathedral sacristans relish being back at work

Welcome back: Veteran sacristans Lloyd Eikenloff and Bob Crapnell are pleased to be able to return to St Stephen’s Cathedral after being away for months.

A COUPLE of the more familiar faces are starting to reappear around Brisbane’s St Stephen’s Cathedral.

As health authorities begin to ease COVID-19 restrictions for public gatherings, long-time sacristans Lloyd Eikenloff and Bob Cracknell have started to return.

Regular visitors to weekday Masses at the cathedral would be used to seeing the men serving at the altar.

Each of them has been assistant sacristans for decades, and they were itching for the day they could be back at St Stephen’s.

“I tell you what … It’s very good to get back,” Mr Crapnell said.

“I just like the place and the atmosphere, and meeting people and things like that.

“That’s my whole motivation …  and of course, getting back to Mass.” Mr Eikenloff, who’s been helping at the cathedral, one way or another, since 1967, has received a papal honour for his services.

He has not returned officially, but has popped in to the cathedral for a visit.

Because of his age and a health condition, he needs a doctor’s certificate to clear him to return to official duties.

“I’d say, the actual cathedral itself and the Mass, would be the main things I’m missing, but (also) the priests I meet every week, the people I meet every week and then you get other people who come in and just want to have a talk … It’s just a good thing,” Mr Eikenloff said.

“I just like the atmosphere around there.” Mr Eikenloff began serving at afternoon Masses at the cathedral after work, in 1967, and then, when he retired from a government job in 1999, he was asked to work around the cathedral carpark and at the archbishop’s residence at Wynberg and St Patrick’s Church, Fortitude Valley, as a groundsman Former cathedral dean Fr Ken Howell (now Bishop Howell) then asked Mr Eikenloff and Mr Crapnell to fill in for an assistant sacristan.

“It sort of just grew from year to year,” Mr Eikenloff said.

Mr Crapnell has not resumed serving officially yet either, but he’s been helping out when he’s been needed.

He just loves being there.

Asked if regulars returning to the cathedral would be wondering where he was, Mr Eikenloff joked, “They’re probably saying, ‘What’s happened to that old joker that’s been hanging around here for years? What’s his name …?’”

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