Canons installed at Norwich Catholic Cathedral
It was an historic day in the life of the Catholic Diocese of East Anglia when the Cathedral Chapter was established with the installation of nine Canons at a Solemn Mass at St John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich last night (March 17). Keith Morris reports.
A congregation of around 600 travelled from across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to witness the occasion.
Welcoming the congregation, the Bishop of East Anglia, Rt Revd Alan Hopes, said: “This is an historic day in the life of our Diocese. The Canons will support the life and mission of the Cathedral and the wider Diocese, through their prayers and their dedicated support of the Bishop in their local communities.
“They will also become a College of Consultors, in accordance with a resolution made by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales in 2009 and would be consulted by the Papal Nuncio whenever there is an inter-regnum in the Diocese and a new bishop needs to be appointed.
“I am delighted that these nine priests have accepted this appointment and I ask you to pray for them that they will be led by the Holy Spirit to serve God faithfully.”
Bishop Alan then installed the Provost of the Chapter, Cathedral Dean Fr David Paul, who then in turn installed all the other eight canons who were first vested in a Mozetta (short cape) by their sponsoring priest, and then received a Biretta (square cap) which the Bishop placed on their head.
Those installed in the new Chapter of Canons were: The Very Revd David Canon Paul (Provost), the Very Revd David Canon Bagstaff (Vicar General), the Very Revd Simon Canon Blakesley (Judicial Vicar), the Very Revd Mathew Canon George Vandalakkunel (Parish Priest of Thetford), the Very Revd Mark Canon Hackeson (Parish Priest of Bury St Edmunds), the Rt Revd Monsignor Eugène Canon Harkness (Chancellor), the Very Revd Hoan Canon Nguyen Minh (Parish Priest of St Luke’s, Peterborough), the Very Revd Peter Canon Rollings (Parish Priest of King’s Lynn) and the Very Revd Mgr Peter Canon Leeming (Parish Priest of Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Cambridge)
In his homily, Bishop Alan said: “We live in an increasingly secular culture. We have been told recently that in Norwich only 40% of people say they believe in God. So do we crawl into our shells when faced with such a challenge? No. Like St Patrick we must be mission driven, re-evangelising even the members of our own Catholic communities. Then we will not be just cultural Catholics but we will be intentional Catholics.
“We will be men and women who have embraced the faith in all its fullness, ready to bear witness to it in a culture which leaves less and less room for God and the things of God. And we do so with confidence, knowing, like St Patrick that God the Holy Trinity stands by us, just as he did by that holy bishop. Like St Patrick we also need to find innovative and imaginative ways of proclaiming the faith, without watering any of it down.
“This year, we enter the 40th anniversary of the establishment of our Diocese on June 3,” said Bishop Alan. “We shall celebrate our wonderful Catholic heritage that goes back not just to 1976, but to the days of another bishop, St Felix of the seventh century. Felix, like St Patrick, was a missionary bishop. He faced all the challenges that we face as we seek to proclaim Christ. Like Patrick and Felix we too need to be missionaries for Christ.”
A reception was held in the Cathedral Narthex and garden after the Mass.
Pictured is Bishop Alan Hopes with the nine new Cathedral Canons after last night’s installation Mass. Back row from left, Canon Rollings, Canon Paul, Canon Harkness, Canon George, Canon Bagstaff. Front row from left, Canon Blakesley, Canon Hackeson, Bishop Alan, Canon Minh, Canon Leeming.