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Diocese of Brentwood

In 2017 the Diocese of Brentwood will celebrate its Centenary. Brentwood is the only diocese to have been originally part of the Archdiocese of Westminster, from which it was separated in 1917.

A programme of special events to mark the Centenary will begin on 11 February 2017 (the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Principal Patron of the Diocese), and will run until 16 November (the Feast of St Edmund of Abingdon, one of the Secondary Patrons of the Diocese).

On 22 March 1917 Pope Benedict XV appointed Monsignor Bernard Ward as Titular Bishop of Lydda and Apostolic Administrator of the new Diocese of Essex. Bishop Ward was consecrated by Cardinal Bourne in Westminster Cathedral on 10 April 1917.

Initially no name was given to the new diocese, save that of ‘Essex’, because a decision had to be made as to where the new bishop would reside. As well as being a distinguished educationalist and the foremost historian of English Catholicism of his generation, Bishop Ward was also something of a railway buff. Hence the choice of Brentwood as the seat of the new bishop because its station was the first on the London side of Shenfield junction, which gave access to the Colchester and Southend lines. Moreover, Brentwood itself boasted a fine, although modest, church which would become the Cathedral, as well as a number of convents and Catholic schools.

The Diocese of Brentwood was formally erected on 22 July 1917 and Bishop Ward was named its first Ordinary. He died on 21 January 1920 and is buried at St Edmund’s College, Ware, the very place where he had been born and educated and where he had spent most of his priestly life. Bishop Ward had a great devotion to St Edmund of Abingdon, hence the choice of that saint as a Secondary Patron of the new diocese (together with St Erconwald and subsequently St Cedd). Moreover, Bishop Ward’s great personal devotion to Our Lady’s shrine at Lourdes ensured that Brentwood was the first diocese in England & Wales to have Our Lady of Lourdes as its Principal Patron.

Centenary Dates (2017)

Sunday 5 February

Annual Lourdes Mass, Celebration of our Patroness and an event for the sick.  Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Wanstead, 3 pm.

Saturday 11 February (Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Principal Patron of the Diocese)

Inauguration of Centenary Celebrations with Day of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in every parish church; Inauguration of Schools’ Competition

Wednesday 22 March

(Formation of Diocese of Essex): Mass in Cathedral with Cardinal, Nuncio & Bishops at 7 pm.

Wednesday 22 March-Thursday 29 June

Exhibition of History of the Diocese in the Conference Hall foyer. Will then travel to several locations in diocese including Colchester, Chelmsford, Leigh-on-Sea, Ilford, Upton Park and Harlow.

Saturday 29 April

International Choirs’ Concert, St Antony, Forest Gate, at 5pm, ending with 6.30pm Mass.

Friday 12 May

Clergy lunch at Chigwell Convent, 12.30- for 1 pm.

Thursday 1 June

Closing date for entries in Schools’ Competition.

Wednesdays 7, 14, 21, 28 June

Centenary Lectures in Conference Hall, Cathedral House at 7.30pm:  speakers, Fr Stewart Foster (Foundation & Early Years), Canon Brian O’Shea  (Bishops Beck, Wall & Casey) & Fr Martin Boland (the Modern Era), and Dr Paul Docherty (Patron Saints of the Diocese).

Thursday 22 June

Schools’ Mass in Cathedral at 11.00am.

Saturday 22 July (Erection of Diocese of Brentwood 20 July)

Centenary Celebration at Walsingham beginning at 12 noon and ending with Mass at 3.00pm.

Monday 4 to Friday 8 September

Clergy Retreat to Ars, France.

Saturday 28 October (26 October is Feast of St Cedd, Secondary Co-Patron of the Diocese)

Centenary Music Concert at 7pm in the Cathedral.

Thursday 16 November (Feast of St Edmund of Canterbury, Secondary Co-Patron of the Diocese)

Closure of Centenary Celebrations with Pontifical Mass at St Edmund’s College, Ware, at 12 noon.