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Celebration of marriage and family life

Over 3,500 years of marriage were represented at the annual Marriage and Family Celebration Mass which took place on Saturday, June 17 at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist.

Couples from across the Diocese of East Anglia took part with around 300 people in attendance. Certificates were presented to couples celebrating significant anniversaries and two couples were celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary this year – Betty and John Stubbs and Claude and Jeff Smith.

Bishop Alan welcomed all the couples and in his homily encouraged them to continue witnessing to love.

"If we love one another, we love God himself," he said. "Families are schools of theology ' in loving each other, you learn about God."

He focused on two aspects of God's love for us; his faithfulness and his fruitfulness. Despite mankind turning away from God, he always offers us a new start, taking us back to himself "for the 77th time and more". This faithfulness, especially during difficult times, is the challenge posed to us in marriage.

"What makes living together different from marriage," said Bishop Alan, "is that there are no solemn vows to live out, no promises to remember, nothing to stop them walking out when things go wrong."

After thanking those present for their powerful witness to faithful love, he turned his attention to fruitfulness pointing out that the world tends to isolate marriage from the family. In marriage, our generosity shows the world that children are not a burden but a gift. Speaking to childless couples, he reminded them that their faithful love bears fruit in many other ways; ultimately, God is the spouse whose love bears fruit and is faithful from generation to generation.

Following the presentation of certificates and photographs, a lunch buffet was enjoyed by all in the cathedral grounds. Many couples remarked how lovely the day was. All married and engaged couples are encouraged to put this in their diary for next year ' it is open to all, not just those who are eligible for a certificate.

Pictures were taken by photographer Paul Hurst of every couple at the Mass and they can all be seen in the picture gallery below (or by clicking here).

High resolution pictures in electronic or print format are available for £8 each. If you wish purchase a copy, please email Kerry Urdzik at, quoting the number of the photo(s) you wish to obtain.

Marriage and Family Celebration Mass, Norwich, June 2017