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Catholic leader leads celebration in Beccles

ArchbishopCormac2008: A day of celebration was made even more special when the leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales held a mass to mark the centenary of  St Benet's Minster, in Beccles.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, visited the north Suffolk town on Saturday July 5 and there was standing room only for the service at St Benet's.

He then cheerfully attended a special fete, which was staged to allow Christian groups from across the town to join together and celebrate 100 years since the consecration of the minster in 1908.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, who was invited to St Benet's by parish priest Father Antony Sutch, told the congregation: “I am very grateful to Father Antony for inviting me here today. It is an occasion for thanksgiving…

“I enjoy going to parishes in different parts of the country outside London. Here in this church the working of God has been continuous.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor praised the parishioners for their efforts to help others, particularly the poor, and spoke of his hopes for the future.

“Today is not an occasion for just looking back; it's an occasion to rejoice in what is happening in this parish,” he added.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor concluded: “I congratulate Father Antony and all of you on the centenary of this church.”

Following the mass, a large number of people gathered in the church grounds to welcome Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor to the Fete of Faiths.

He spoke informally to parishioners and posed for pictures with children before he was presented with a commemorative wine glass, featuring his own crest along with that of St Benet's.

The glass was made by Beccles' man Stephen Bradley, who runs a glass-blowing factory in Devon.

St Benet's Minster was built in a Norman style and began life in 1889 when it was to be part of a new priory and presbytery to be expanded later into a small monastery. The nave was completed in 1901 and the construction of the church was finished in 1908.

Pictured top, the Archbishop talks to parishioners in Beccles.

Story and picture courtesy of

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