History of the Diocese of East Anglia

Formed in March 1976 by a papal decree, the Diocese of East Anglia comprises the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire and the city of Peterborough.

On March 13, 1976, by decree Quod Ecumenicum, Pope Paul VI formed the Diocese of East Anglia out of the Diocese of Northampton.

On June 2, 1976, the new diocese received its first bishop, Alan Clark. Bishop Alan had previously been Auxiliary Bishop of Northampton and co-chairman of ARCIC (Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission). Being the first bishop of the new diocese, Bishop Alan had to set up all the necessary instruments and commissions for the diocese to operate successfully. The establishment of the Diocesan Pastoral Council in 1987 strengthened these.

The diocese continued to grow with the development of the Diocesan offices and Diocesan Tribunal attached to Bishop’s House in Poringland near Norwich. Bishop Alan led a number of Lourdes Pilgrimages.

Following his 75th birthday in August 1994 Bishop Alan retired as Bishop of East Anglia.

On March 21, 1995, Peter Smith, Rector of St John’s Seminary, Southwark Archdiocese, was appointed the second Bishop of East Anglia by Pope John-Paul II. He was ordained Bishop in St John’s Cathedral in Norwich on Saturday May 27, 1995, by the late Cardinal Basil Hume.

On Friday February 14, 2003, Pope John Paul II appointed Canon Michael Evans as the third Bishop of East Anglia. He succeeded the Most Rev Peter Smith, who became the Archbishop of Cardiff (and later the Archbishop of Southwark).

Canon Michael was ordained as the third bishop of East Anglia at St John’s Cathedral on Wednesday March 19, 2003.

Sadly, Bishop Michael Evans passed away after a very brave fight against cancer on July 11, 2011 whilst still in office.

Following Bishop Michael’s death, Vicar General Fr David Bagstaff acted as Diocesan Administrator during the inter-regnum.

On June 11, 2013, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Alan Hopes as the fourth Bishop of East Anglia and he was duly installed on July 16, 2013 at St John’s Cathedral, by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, in front of a congregation of nearly 2,000 people.

In November 2014, Bishop Alan was made a Knight Commander with Star of The Equestrian Order of The Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

A Cathedral Chapter was established with the installation of nine Canons at a Solemn Mass at St John the Baptist on March 17, 2016. The Canons also act as a College of Consultors for the bishop.

On June 3, 2016, the Diocese of East Anglia celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a Mass at St John’s Cathedral. The preacher was Cardinal Nichols.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, His Excellency Archbishop Edward Adams, conducted a four-day visit to the Diocese of East Anglia in May 2019.

On December 14, 2022, Bishop Alan ordained his successor as Bishop of East Anglia, Bishop Peter Collins, at St John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich. He then became Bishop Emeritus for the Diocese.

The Diocese of East Anglia is ‘twinned’ with the Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang in Cambodia, and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Patrons of the diocese are: Our Lady of Walsingham (September 24), St Felix (March 8) and St Edmund ( November 20).