By Keith Morris
2010: The centenary celebrations of Norwich’s Roman Catholic Cathedral
reached a peak on June 24 with a Day of Celebration and Thanksgiving on the feast day for St John the Baptist.
A congregation of up to 800 attended the centenary Mass led by Bishop Michael Evans.
Rev Pat Limacher, cathedral deacon, said: "It was a fantastic Mass and a lot of people throughly enjoyed it. It went very, very well."
The year-long programme of celebrations has also seen the opening of a new £2.85m community facilities centre, the Narthex
. This is an extension to the Grade I listed building that will provide community and learning facilities.
Work on the £2m project was completed by the end of January, and facilities include a main hall, a café, shop, exhibition space and educational facilities.
The Narthex is hoped to attract a new wave of interest in St John's Roman Catholic from the city and beyond.
The centenary celebrations formally got under way on Sunday January 3 with an inauguration service by Bishop Michael Evans
, leader of the Catholic community in East Anglia.
The cathedral's official 100th birthday will be on December 8.
Events over the year include a flower festival, a series of concerts and a range of social events.Father James Walsh
, the Dean of St John's, said: “I want this year to be truly memorable for the people of Norwich and throughout East Anglia as we embark on these celebrations.
“St John's is one of the iconic buildings in the city with a unique character, it is also the spiritual home to a large and thriving congregation with a wonderful mix of cultures and nationalities.
“Throughout 2010 we will be offering a warm welcome to visitors, especially to the people of Norwich who have not yet come through the doors. It will be a time for us to remember our past with gratitude, to celebrate our present with enjoyment and to look forward to our future with hope.”
St John’s is the second largest Catholic cathedral in the UK. After nearly a century as the parish church of the Catholic community in Norwich it became the mother church of the new diocese of East Anglia in 1976.
It now takes its place with its ‘elder sister’, the Anglican cathedral which is located in the centre of the city. Norwich is one of the few English cities to have two cathedrals and, over the last 30 years, they have grown closer in a spiritual and practical partnership.
The Narthex will provide a new focus for visitors to the cathedral. It will offer a place to look and learn, to visit and find out about the history of the cathedral. The project will improve physical and intellectual access to the cathedral, providing a wonderful welcome for all who visit and worship here. It will enable the cathedral to play a fuller part in the life of the city and region
The Narthex will add some 400 square metres to the Cathedral complex, providing much-needed social, educational and interpretative space and a new, level access into the Cathedral.
As part of the project the existing community facilities will be extended and refurbished. Over 85% of the total cost of £2.85 million has already been raised. The Narthex will enable the Cathedral team to develop and respond to four vital aspects of the life of the Cathedral: Building cohesive communities, Youth and Education, Adding to the cultural life of Norwich and East Anglia and Protecting and preserving our heritage