More than 1,000 people have attended a special Mass to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of a Catholic secondary school in Essex.
The Mass at St John Payne school in Chelmsford was celebrated by Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood.
The bishop was assisted by a large number of diocesan clergy, as well as Prior Hugh Allan O Praem of St Phillip’s Priory and Abbot Martin Shipperlee OSB of Ealing Abbey, a former pupil at the school.
Also present at the Mass were Simon Burns, the minister of state for the Department of Health and John Petre, 18th Baron Petre, the Lord Lieutenant of Essex.
Lord Petre’s ancestors sheltered St John Payne, after whom the school is named, at their nearby home, Ingatestone Hall, before his execution in 1582. Following the Mass, numerous activities took place in the school grounds.
The renowned religious artist, Sister Mary Stephen of the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre, unveiled her latest painting at an exhibition. Inspired by the motto of Cardinal Newman, Cor ad cor loquitur – “Heart speaks to heart”, Sister Mary Stephen created the piece to mark the celebrated churchman’s beatification during the forthcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI.
The day closed with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.