Launch of new Diss Catholic Church soon

The long wait will soon be over for Catholics in Diss to have their own church to hold services.

Work on a new �1m church in Shelfanger Road is set to be completed for an official launch on July 20 and the newly-named Church of St Henry Morse will begin holding services soon afterwards.

Since 1952, the town's Catholic community has used a temporary church building in Stanley Road, which was originally meant to last 10 years when it was built in 1952, but has ended up lasting five times longer.

However, the church, built with an asbestos roof and breeze block wall, is now too old and can no longer accommodate the growing catholic community in the Diss area.

Since building work has been taking place on the church, services have been held at the town's United Reformed Church.

The new building, which has sets for up to 270, is set to provide extra space and facilities including a kitchen, office and meeting rooms as well as a first floor flat for the parish priest, Fr Simon Blakesley.

When the Stanley Road church first opened it served about 200 Catholics, but that number has since increased to about 1,000.

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Consequently, space was restricted and the church experienced extremes of temperature caused by its design, becoming very hot during the summer and cold during the winter.

Earlier this year, Fr Blakesley said: 'It has been a place that has been cherished and loved by parishioners for at least two generations. There is that sense that it has been the family home, but as with all family homes you outgrow it and you have to move on.'

Cash for the new church has been raised from the sale of the land the temporary building sits on and from donations from the diocese.

The land was originally bought from the Wren family, who were bakers in the town, but was only intended for temporary use because the catholic church could not afford a permanent building at that time.

St Henry Morse was one of the 40 English Martyrs and was born near Diss in 1595, while the new church is one of three new churches being built in the deanery of Bury St Edmunds.

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