New �1m Diss Catholic church on schedule for summer opening

Work to provide a Norfolk town with a new �1m Catholic church is on schedule for completion this summer, according to the parish priest.

The outer building for the long-awaited church in Shelfanger Road, Diss has been completed and the roof was being fitted this week, with the electrical wiring set to be installed next week.

Fr Simon Blakesley, parish priest at the catholic church, said the aim was to complete the project by mid-June.

He added: 'It is pretty much on schedule and the weather has been very kind to us, but it is going fairly well.'

Catholics in Diss have been using 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.

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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.

The new building is set to provide extra space and facilities including a kitchen, office and meeting rooms.

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In the meantime, the catholic community is using the town's United Reformed Church for services.

When the church first opened 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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