Edward McBridge: East Anglian priest for seven decades

A much-loved priest serving East Anglia for 68 years, Monsignor Edward McBride, has died aged 91 after a long illness at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Father Mac, as he was known to many, was the first Vicar General of the Diocese of East Anglia. He had a pivotal role at Norwich's Roman Catholic Cathedral when the lead roof urgently needed replacing. Without his energetic approach to fundraising, the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, built by the Duke of Norfolk and opened on December 8, 1910, could have been lost.

A great enthusiast for education, he built St Edmund's RC Secondary School, Gorleston, serving as chairman of governors for three years, and was involved in the revival of the fortunes of Notre Dame High School, Norwich.

Born on June 20, 1919, at Rosyth, Fife, he was educated at his local RC primary school. He studied at Blairs College, Aberdeen, and went to Scots College, Rome, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Philosophy in 1939. Ordained in December 1943, he came to East Anglia because he could not find a post in Scotland.

On February 1, 1944, he came as a curate to St John's Cathedral, Norwich, before going to High Wycombe. He was appointed parish priest at Sacred Heart, Southwold, in 1951 where he stayed seven years and also built a new church at Halesworth.

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In 1958, he became priest-in-charge at St Peter's RC Church, Gorleston. During his term, the parish hall was built and the church was consecrated in 1964 on the 25th anniversary of its opening. When he resigned from Great Yarmouth Education Committee, he was thanked for his valuable contribution as a 'forthright member.'

He was made Dean of Ipswich in 1967, where he was responsible for opening St Mark's Primary School and completing St Alban's Secondary School.

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When the East Anglian diocese was created in 1976, Canon McBride became administrator when St John's was made a cathedral. At the same time, he became vicar general, deputising for the bishop, the Rt Rev Alan Clark. After four years, he decided to return to parish duties and moved to Dereham in 1980 before his final stint of 12 years at St Joseph's, Sheringham and retirement.

He was a member of Norfolk Education Committee for some years. He had been treated for cancer at the former Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, where he was also chaplain. He was a committee member of the Big C appeal.

Father James Walsh, cathedral dean, said: 'When the chips were down Father Mac was a good man to have on your side. He was always approachable and willing to support anyone at their time of need.' He made a major contribution to education and schools and 'got things done,' he added.

While he could be blunt at times, he was always the first to apologise. He had a sense of fun, and at Sheringham he had even announced hymns like a bingo caller and demanded louder singing in the middle of them.

A Mass will be held at St Joseph's, Sheringham, on Monday, May 9 at 10am followed by a Requiem Mass at the Chapel of Reconciliation, Walsingham, at 2pm. A cremation service will be at Norwich City Crematorium on Tuesday, May 10 at 10.30am.

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