ON November 9, I attended a wonderful and vibrant celebration with about 1,000 other Catholics, civic dignitaries and children from local Catholic schools, a ‘mass of thanksgiving’ conducted by the Most Reverend George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff, at Newport Leisure Centre to celebrate the re-establishment of the Catholic Church in Newport during the last 200 years.

This date is the anniversary of the opening of the first Catholic chapel on Stow Hill in 1812 when the Catholic population of Newport was less than 100.

Catholics have been prominent in public life in Newport in many ways.

In 1840 Thomas Woolett was town clerk, his brother Robert, public health officer.

Irish immigrant Edward Dowling was proprietor of the Merlin newspaper and he became the first Catholic mayor of Newport.

It is also significant that our present council leader and several serving councillors are continuing the long tradition of Roman Catholic participation in the civic life of Newport. Thanks to Fr Michael Evans, St Mary’s, and parishioners from across Newport who made this a celebration to remember. Norman Plaisted, Vivian Road, Newport