Jim O’Sullivan – Chair – circulated the Agenda.
Fr David opened the meeting with a prayer.
35 people were present.
Apologies were received from 6 people: R.Birkett, T.Campbell, F.Fildes, A.Maddocks, P.Sephton, T.Welsh.
The Website had been updated. Parishioners were encouraged to look at it and make comments/suggestions. A list of parish groups and contact numbers is being installed on the Narthex notice board.
Six parishioners had met to make suggestions for a Facilitation Group to assist Fr David and the Parish Forum between meetings. Their suggestions had been printed on the reverse of the agenda and distributed last Sunday.
Mainly the idea was to spread the load a bit, to take some pressure off Fr David. By dealing with uncontroversial items like door locks, he would be freer to fulfill his priestly role. There was however some concern that this could be seen as another layer of bureaucracy. It was clarified that such a group should not prevent people feeling they can approach Fr David directly with ideas or issues, and would always be subordinate to both Fr David and the Forum.
Fr. David suggested an alternative, smaller group consisting of himself, Deacon Geoff, the Forum chair and 2-3 others.
At 8.30 the chair called a halt to discussion and would have had a vote but a parishioner suggested a consensus approach along the lines suggested by Fr. David. This was agreed by all present.
Fr David reported a successful Children’s Liturgy Activity Day.
Trees and flowers had been ordered for Xmas. The generous response to the Giving Tree had already begun and there was a possibility of a new venture – Christmas Lunch on Christmas Day in the parish room.
Michael Collis, our visiting seminarian, would be here till Christmas afternoon. He has been of great service helping with Holy Hour, Bible study, RCIA and at school – even taking Assembly. We have all enjoyed his time with us and hope his experience of St Laurence’s will help him in the future.
Fr David told us 2008 will be the Golden Jubilee of St Laurence’s church and the school will be 40 years old. The celebrations can take place throughout the year. Fr David will invite the bishop. Andrew Bateman will stage a concert and we hope to hold an Ecumenical Songs of Praise. A longstanding parishioner remembered a Passion Play being held at the ‘Old Tin Hut’.
Fr David asked if anyone wanted to form a group to co-ordinate the celebrations. He asked again at the end. Rosina Abdulai and Jim Bond volunteered.
Mary Watkins and Teresa Campbell have now been trained as reps to take over from Sr Pat. £1700 had been raised at the Harvest appeal and it is hoped to raise £2000 next year and to have reps present at each mass. In the New Year it is hoped to launch Youth Action in the parish. There is a local team in Norwich and also a National team. Mary has also been working with the children at school, particularly in Year 5, and the response has been magnificent. The PTFA were thanked for their support.
Our chief Pastor will preach at all masses on the weekend of his visit December 15th-16th. This is an official visit and because Bishop Peter was moved and we were without a bishop for over a year, it is overdue.
He will interview Fr David and Deacon Geoff and hopes to meet parishioners socially at the party held at St Laurence’s School on Saturday evening. One parishioner would like to ask the bishop about his ideal parish. Fr David suggested he/we should hand such questions to him on paper and urged us all to make him feel welcome.
The Bishop will produce a report on the parish following his visit, which will be discussed at the next parish forum.
Fr David reported that the School was oversubscribed. Next year building should begin to increase the intake to 1 ½ form entry. £500,000 has been set aside by the county and 3 new classrooms should help to accommodate the expanding Catholic population. Credit must be paid to Mrs Southgate and the staff and children for running a first-rate school – ‘the best in the diocese’.
Lynda McIntyre our representative at the Council of Laity meeting reported briefly on the bishop’s initiative on welcoming older people into the church. Only 8 replies from a possible 53 had been from the parishes of the diocese (one was from St Laurence’s). There had been talk of parishes clustering and it was hoped that this would be a sign of peace like the early Christian community described in Acts 2.
When the official minutes arrive they will be posted on the notice board.
Sr Pat Robb was impressed by a notice board in another place which was bordered by flags of parishioners’ countries of origin in which the word WELCOME was written in the appropriate language.
She also drew attention to Action on Poverty and Housing Justice, from January 26th – February 5th. An Ecumenical Group will be in the Grafton Centre and she invited us to join them.
Mary Jane O’Sullivan reminded us that a Hundred Club will be launched in the New Year. Potential members can register with Lynda McIntyre or Patrick Woodford (PTFA treasurer).
It was pointed out that chaplains are not automatically informed when a catholic is admitted to hospital. Parishioners are advised that they should either ask ward staff to contact the chaplain, or ask a relative or friend to inform their parish priest.
Karen Rodgers had counted 18 young children on the balcony at one mass, who were not profitably engaged and sought to use this fact as a catechetical opportunity. She hoped the 15 activity packs she had prepared would support parents and hopefully carry over to the children’s prayer life at home.
Rosina Abdulai had been in the parish for 24 years and still saw the need for each of us to take responsibility for talking to newcomers after Mass.
Elizabeth Barrand had also found it difficult to be accepted many years ago – she and one or two others had telephoned newcomers and asked if they would welcome a visit.
It is hoped that this topic can be placed on the Agenda for a future meeting.
Catherine Hankard from OLEM invited us to attend a Catholic Renewal Prayer Group held at 7.15pm in the Oratory, Margaret Beaufort Institute, Grange Road. A flyer is on the notice board in the church entrance and Narthex.
The next meeting of the Forum will be held on Thursday 13th March 2008.