THE golden jubilee of the Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton was celebrated by 11,000 people yesterday.
Catholics from across Sussex and Surrey converged at the Amex Stadium in Falmer for Festival 50, the largest Catholic event in England and Wales since the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.
Bishop Richard said in his homily: “This is indeed a grand day for our diocese as we celebrate 50 years since our foundation in 1965.
“It is truly wonderful to see so many from right across our diocese gathered to celebrate our history, the church that we are today and the future to which we look with hope and trust in the power of the Holy Spirit at work in his people.”
During a day of prayer, faith, fun and friendship, key speakers included Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, former Bishop of the Diocese; Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury; and Fr Timothy Radcliffe, former Master General of the Dominican Order.
Claire Dixon from CAFOD and Bishop Dan Turley from the sister Diocese of Chulucanas in Peru also addressed the crowd.
Mark Woods, diocesan communications officer, said: “The stands and concourses were filled with 11,000 people of the diocese and elsewhere, who were able not only to see the many stalls and exhibitions but spend time watching theatre from Rise, dance displays from different cultural groups, listen to music from Christian Rock band, The Sounds of Salvation, and a local Mauritian band, and have a go on the Harris Brothers vintage fairground rides.”
There was a dedicated youth stream for young people, which began with a Youth Vigil the night before. Also present was an Ecumenical Walking Pilgrimage group, who had walked all the way from Arundel, and dozens of school choirs.
The climax was a Mass of Thanksgiving, led by Bishop Richard alongside the priests, deacons and people of the diocese.
Bishop Richard spoke about the need for the people of the diocese to be formed in faith, be a people of prayer and to go out in mission to the world to share God’s mercy.
He said: “As we celebrate jubilee, we look to the future with confidence. The task is indeed great, but it is in our weakness that we find strength.
“There is no need for fear, therefore, but there is a need for prayer, for formation and a wholehearted response to the call to mission that is the life of the church.
“Let us, then go forward in hope, ever more closely conformed to Christ, who is with us always; yes, to the end of time.”
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