New �1m Diss Catholic Church set to open today

A �1m new Catholic church will open its doors to worshippers today following a long-running campaign to move to new premises.

Permission was first granted almost five years ago for Diss Catholic Church to build a new facility on the edge of the town to cater for its growing congregation.

The church of St Henry Morse, off Shelfanger Road will hold its first service this evening after work began in November to build the church on a greenfield site.

The new church, which can accommodate up to 270 worshippers for a service, also includes a kitchen, day chapel, community room, and a first floor flat for the parish priest. It replaces the cramped former Catholic church in Stanley Road, which is set to be turned into housing.

Father Simon Blakesley said: 'Our parish has been on a journey and it's very satisfying to be arriving at our destination. I'm looking forward very much to celebrating our first masses here in this building that has surpassed my expectations in its noble simplicity.'

The new church was designed by Framlingham architects Hollins, and building contractor was Blackburns of Harleston.

It is believed to be the first church in the country dedicated to St Henry Morse, who was born in Brome, near Diss in 1595 in the middle of the Reformation. Despite the constant threat of violence and persecution, he became a Catholic priest and spent much of his ministry caring for the sick afflicted by the plague. He was charged with treason and hanged in 1645.

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The new church was funded through the sale of its previous site, a loan from the diocese and support and fundraising or parishioners.

Four stained glass windows from Stowmarket's Catholic church have been restored by local artist Terri Lockton, and local craftsman and parishioner Peter Dunsmore and feature in the new church.

The altar stone is from the Carmelite convent at Langham in north Norfolk, while the figure of Jesus on the cross comes from RAF Marham and has been restored by parishioner Tony Tanousis.

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