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Archbishop joins St Benet's celebration

PUBLISHED: 10:39 07 July 2008 | UPDATED: 07:30 01 August 2010

A DAY of celebration was made even more special when the leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales held a mass to mark the centenary of St Benet's Minster, in Beccles.

A DAY of celebration was made even more special when the leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales held a mass to mark the centenary of St Benet's Minster, in Beccles.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, visited the town on Saturday and there was standing room only for the service at St Benet's, which attracted 500 people.

He went on to attend a special fete, which was staged to allow Christian groups from across the town to join together and celebrate 100 years since the consecration of the minster in 1908.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, who was invited to St Benet's by parish priest Father Antony Sutch, told the congregation: “I am very grateful to Father Antony for inviting me here today. It is an occasion for thanksgiving…

“I enjoy going to parishes in different parts of the country outside London. Here, in this church, the working of God has been continuous.”

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor praised the parishioners for their efforts to help others, particularly the poor, and spoke of his hopes for the future.

“Today is not an occasion for just looking back; it's an occasion to rejoice in what is happening in this parish,” he added.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor concluded: “I congratulate Father Antony and all of you on the centenary of this church.”

Following the mass, a large number of people gathered in the church grounds to welcome Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor to the Fete of Faiths where he spoke informally to parishioners and posed for pictures with children.

He then retired for a luncheon, prepared by the Earsham Street Café from Bungay with 230 representatives of the parish and town, and then had to leave to fly to Australia.

He added: “I am so sorry to be leaving early as I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. Thank you. On Tuesday I will be with the Pope in Sydney and I shall say to him, 'why don't you visit Beccles, a wonderful parish and town in Suffolk'.”

The fete included over 40 marquees and entertainment including archery, live jazz music, horse riding,

St Benet's Minster was built in a Norman style and began life in 1889 when it was to be part of a new priory and presbytery to be expanded later into a small monastery.

The nave was completed in 1901 and the construction of the church was finished in 1908.

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