Minutes of St Laurence’s Parish Forum : May 16th 2007

Fr David, Deacon Geoffrey Cook and 42 parishioners met at 8pm in the Parish Room. Jim O’Sullivan was in the Chair and welcomed everyone.

Background to the Forum.

Jim began with a short introduction to bring up to date those present who had not attended the first meeting. Minutes of that meeting were available.

He invited Fr David to begin with a prayer. The meeting then continued with the first item on the agenda.

The State of the Parish (Fr David)


Fr David has been asked to be the Bishop’s Advisor for Travellers.

Travellers have many dispensations in Canon Law, which allow them to be treated differently from regular congregations. Fr David will have a Faculty for Confirmation and at the end of June a service will be held in which First Communions and Confirmation will be administered.

He will also officiate at a similar combined service at Walsingham on the Feast of the Assumption August 15th.

St Laurence’s is to be the Centre in the diocese for Travellers and as a ‘thank you’ for being made so welcome in the Parish the Traveller Community have donated a shrine to Our Lady, which is being built in the garden.

St Laurence’s is an expanding congregation, both for those attending Mass and those receiving the Sacraments. 4th largest in the diocese for Baptisms. 6th or 7th largest overall. Largest parish in the diocese without an Assistant Priest.

Student Placements: In September a 4th Year Seminarian from Oscott will come for 4 months. Also in September, but for one month, we will be host to a student from Margaret Beaufort Institute. Fr David asked that we should invite them to our group activities so that they can make good use of their time with us.

Future of the Parish

The bishop has asked the synod of priests to think constructively about the challenge presented by rising numbers of Catholics at a time when the number of priests is falling.

In order to serve a larger congregation, a priest would need to say 4 Sunday Masses because of the limited size of both church and car park.

However the bishop wants a priest to say a maximum of 3 Masses. This may therefore entail the use of larger buildings with room for everyone at one Mass, thus enabling the priest to serve two parishes.

Parishes may need to build larger churches (but none of the parishes can afford individually to build and maintain large new churches) or to hire a larger building nearby. (We already have a local parish suspended as there is not a priest for them).

We have not yet taken into account the new building developments taking place throughout East Anglia.

Currently councils are said to be unhappy for a community centre to be used for worship. In Cambourne so far, Churches provide the only community initiative.

After a suggestion from the floor, Fr David agreed that this topic is the sort which could be considered by a steering committee and prepared for a future meeting.

The North Cambridge of Churches is hoping to knock on 3000-4000 doors and give a Christian Welcome to newcomers on our local estates.

There was a positive answer to a query that any ‘Welcome Booklet’ would serve new parents having children baptized and would also include information about St Laurence’s School.

Parish Communication and Structure

  1. How can we communicate with one another?
  2. How can groups communicate in a way which will ease communication and avoid duplication?

Tony Brotchie: This has been a difficulty for 30 years.

Steven Stafford: Suggested an enlarged News Letter like the one at Cottenham: it is informative and popular: everyone gets a copy.

Paul Simmons: Could the newsletter be A3 folded rather than A4 with a space for more (and more fully explained) items and a more attractive layout? He congratulated Pat Cook for putting a quart into a pint pot. A plea was made on behalf of those whose eyesight cannot cope with tiny print.

Teresa Morris: Asked if members of groups could wear badges at Mass

Shona De Wolfe: Thought that we should be pro-active actually invite people to join in our activities.

Richard Birkett: Reminded us that the Website and the Handbook have remained static. The latter has not been updated for 3 years.

Paul Edwards: said that he and his wife Audrey were newcomers (10 weeks) and had been looking for information. He asked for forms to be available at the door, which one could fill-in with details of interests. He made a plea for welcomers!

Virginia Bird: Is a welcomer at I lam but now has nobody to help her. As a result she is far too busy giving out newsletters etc to have time to speak to anyone. We need more welcomers.

Jim Bond: Everyone needs to take the initiative in welcoming.

Karen Rodgers: Asked for a large noticeboard outside (which may need planning permission). This should be large enough to be read from the road (like Arbury Baptist). Notices should be changed weekly by a communications group. This will also help those coming back to the Church.

Stuart Hemsley: 10 years ago he and Ann had joined St Laurence’s on the strength of J&P and Amnesty groups being mentioned on the notice board.

Jim O’Sullivan: Suggested that we should have a group (a) to liaise between website, the newsletter, the Pilgrim editors etc, and (b) to re-organise the notice boards?

Questions followed:

What is the commitment ?
How do people volunteer?
Can video tapes (and other methods) be used to keep the housebound and visually impaired involved?
Group volunteers:
will meet in next few weeks and feed back to the next meeting
Jim O’Sullivan: Chair
Richard Birkett: Website
Sr Pat Robb: Notice Board
Pat Cook: Bulletin
Paul Simmons: Pilgrim

Newcomers Forms: Teresa Morris volunteered to find forms and to re-instate them in the entrance, to follow-up any filled in, and to find a group to share this responsibility.

Parish Accounts

Enclosed for interest.

Items for future discussion & AOB

  1. Lynda McIntyre had attended the Bishop’s Council for the Laity on behalf of the parish and reported:
  2. Should we seek official Fair Trade status for the parish?
  3. Issues of Justice and Peace to be kept on future agendas after some ‘homework’.
  4. Keep in mind the large range of wider issues such as those dealt with weekly in the Tablet under the heading Parish Practice eg Landings, a scheme to help those returning to the Church after an absence.
  5. Fr David’s friend, Fr Stuart Wilson, has described (in the journal The Pastoral Review) the value of a Parish Core Group (which has been introduced throughout most of Westminster Diocese) in leading parish development.
  6. Need to have a focus for a particular task: not an extra layer of bureaucracy.
  7. Fr David: things don’t happen out of the ether. We have to have a vision and people have to take responsibility to do something: we have to agree who takes responsibility for change and which individuals have an overarching remit.
  8. Jim Bond: Jesus had Peter, James and John.
  9. Fr David: many things ‘tick over’/ take care of themselves but there are going to be new initiatives. We need ideas for future development.
  10. Concerns

Next meeting

September 07: date to be announced later.

A vote of thanks to the Chairman was given.

Meeting closed at 9.35.