Topping out ceremony for new Diss Catholic Church

A new Norfolk Catholic church was given its roof yesterday as building work nears completion in time for the scheduled opening in June.

The topping out ceremony for the new Diss church took place at the site in Shelfanger Road and was watched by parishioners and the parish priest, Fr Simon Blakesley.

Once completed, the building will be three times the size of the former church in Stanley Road, which opened in 1952 and can no longer accommodate the town's growing catholic population, which has grown from 200 60 years ago to approximately 1,000 today.

Currently, the Catholic church no longer uses the old Stanley Road building because of its restricted space and has instead been sharing the town's United Reformed Church.

The building has capacity for 270 people including function and meeting rooms, a small day chapel, a large kitchen and a flat for the priest.

Fr Blakesley joked there would also be indoor toilets so parishioners would no longer have to freeze by going out to the outdoor toilets at the Stanley Road church.

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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'I think the new church is a delightful building. Today was an opportunity for the parishioners to go in and have a look around and I think they are delighted with how the building looks,' he added.

Richard Poole, 65, of Mount Street in Diss, was one of the parishioners visiting the site, having been a regular at the church for two-and-a-half years.

He said he was pleasantly surprised, as he had feared the church could look utilitarian and said he particularly liked the stonework around the windows and the angles used in the building's structure, which gave it a lot of character.

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