Pope Francis has offered his prayers and support for the Diocese of East Anglia, which last night (June 3) celebrated its 40th anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Norwich.

Around 1,500 people, many of whom came from the 50 parishes of the Catholic Diocese of East Anglia across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambs and Peterborough, attended the Mass when the preacher was Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and the chief celebrant was the Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt Rev Alan Hopes.

Cardinal Nichols said: “The Cathedral houses the images of three East Anglian saints of the first millennium: St Felix, St Etheldreda and St Edmund: a bishop, an abbess and a king. They remind us that faith in these parts is as old as the hills. And they offer us a challenge to be diligent in our mission to live out the faith, playing our part in the continuing story of Christianity in East Anglia now and into the future.”

The Solemn Diocesan Mass was presided over by Bishop Alan, who said: “In the 2,000 year history of our Church, our 40 years may seem rather small and insignificant but, of course, these few years mark not only a beginning but also a fruition of a long period of evangelisation and Christian witness in this part of England.

“Over the past 40 years, the Diocese has made its mark in the life of the whole Christian community, in its involvement with and outreach to the neediest and most vulnerable in our society. The Catholic community has played its full part in working together and co-operating with other Christians, especially in seeking the common good of all.”  

The Pope’s message reads: “His Holiness prays that you may all be renewed in your love of Christ and, in turn, revitalize your parishes, so that all may be ‘a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey and a centre of constant missionary outreach’ (Evangelii Gaudium 28). In this way, you will manifest God’s love and mercy to the broader community and share the richness of our faith in Christ Jesus. Commending the Diocese of East Anglia to the loving protection of Our Lady of Walsingham, Pope Francis willingly imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord.” 

Other guests at the Mass included the Archbishop of Southwark (a former bishop of East Anglia), together with six other bishops, as well as local civic and religious leaders representing each area of the diocese which covers Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambs and Peterborough. 

The Diocese came into existence 40 years ago, when Pope Paul VI approved the creation of the Diocese of East Anglia, and, on June 2, 1976, Bishop Alan Clark was installed as its first bishop. At the same time the church of St John the Baptist in Norwich became a Cathedral church, one of the largest in the country.

The congregation enjoyed a reception after the Mass and a special piece of anniversary birthday cake produced by Sheena Barker from Ipswich.


Keith Morris

​Director of Communications
Diocese of East Anglia
07712 787762
01508 488137
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Diocese of East Anglia

eastangliaThe Parish of St Mary’s is one of 55 parishes that make up the Diocese of East Anglia (within the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire together with the Unitary Authority of Peterborough).  Each Diocese is led by the bishop, as head of the local Church.  The Diocesan Website can be accessed here.


pope frances1rsThe See of Rome has special significance as the place of martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul. The Pope (bishop of Rome) is regarded as the successor of St Peter.

The Catholic Church is made up of all the dioceses that are in communion with the Holy Father.
Access to the Vatican website of Pope Francis can be gained here.

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