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New £1m church for Diss Catholic community

PUBLISHED: 10:56 21 October 2011

Father Simon Blakesley at Diss Catholic Church, which is set to close and the congregation to move to a new building.

Father Simon Blakesley at Diss Catholic Church, which is set to close and the congregation to move to a new building.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

A Norfolk Catholic community is set to move into a new £1m church after nearly 60 years at its temporary home.

Catholics in Diss have been using the temporary church building in Stanley Road, which was originally only built to last 10 years, but ended up lasting five times longer.

However, Fr Simon Blakesley, parish priest at the catholic church, said the church, built with an asbestos roof and breeze block wall, was too old and could no longer accommodate the growing Catholic community in the Diss area.

So a new building is set to be erected in Shelfanger Road providing extra space and facilities including a kitchen, office and meeting rooms.

This new facility is set to be completed in summer 2012 and in the meantime the Catholic community is using the town’s United Reformed Church for services.

Fr Blakesley added when the church first opened in 1952 it served about 200 Catholics, but that number has since increased to about 1,000.

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

“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,” Fr Blakesley added.

He said the temporary church was in effect two separate halls, but everything will be in one building at the new permanent home.

Cash 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.

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