The Diocese of East Anglia is set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its formation over the next two weeks with a Solemn Diocesan Mass, a book launch and a history conference.

The most high profile event is a Solemn Diocesan Mass with chief celebrant Bishop Alan Hopes and preacher Cardinal Vincent Nichols at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Norwich at 6.30pm on Friday June 3, one day after the actual anniversary of June 2.

Invited guests at the Mass will also include the Papal Nuncio (the Pope’s representative in Britain), the Archbishop of Southwark – the Most Rev Peter Smith (ex Bishop of East Anglia), six other bishops, as well as civic leaders, school students, religious, and ecumenical guests, but by far and away the largest contingent will come from the 50 parishes of the diocese.

Around 2,000 people are expected from every corner of the Diocese, and as well as a full Cathedral the Narthex and gardens will have marquees and large screens showing the service.

Cathedral Dean, Provost David Paul, told Radio Norfolk: “There will be an enormous procession entering the cathedral. The statue of Our Lady of Walsingham is coming from the National Shrine, escorted by members of the Syro Malabar Catholic Indian community who are present in large numbers in the Diocese in traditional dress with their liturgical silk umbrellas in vivid colours.

“It is a celebration Mass to thank God for the blessings we have received as a Diocese. All the parishes in East Anglia will come together as a family to thank God for who we are and what we are and to also look forward to the future as part of the Christian community.

“We are looking to see how we can engage with our local communities and addresses some of the social issues we have,” said Canon Paul. “We are very active and alive in East Anglia with a growing set of congregations and looking forward to the next 40 years.”

Hear the full interview with Canon David Paul on Radio Norfolk (until the end of June).

Start listening at 2.40 hrs

A one-day conference on the history of Catholicism in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough from the Reformation to the present day is set to take place at the Cathedral Narthex in Norwich on June 11, as part of the celebrations when a book marking the 1,400 years of Catholic history in East Anglia will be launched. Tickets can be purchased online here: