Minutes of St Laurence’s Parish Forum : 25 September 2007

Jim O’Sullivan (Chair) had circulated the Agenda.

Father David opened the meeting with a prayer.

34 people were present.

After the welcome, it was decided to postpone coffee to the end of the meeting.

Minutes of the last meeting had been displayed in the Narthex ― there were no matters arising.

Student Placements

Debbie Murphy, a 3rd year theology student, spoke briefly of how she had felt welcome in the Parish, of her own ministry and how she valued the experience of the various ministries of other baptised parishioners.

Michael Collis, a 4th year seminarian, appreciates the diversity of St. Laurence’s ― a parish quite different to his own, as he learns how best to serve as a priest.

Parish Report

Father David spoke of the great privilege of having Debbie and Michael with us. Debbie had worked earlier with our Traveller Community preparing children for their First Holy Communion. Father David feels we are enriched by both students’ presence.

The Summer Term saw the celebration of First Holy Communion ― 5 Masses were followed by the ‘Going Forth’ Mass. Confirmation was celebrated and there were a record number of marriages celebrated.

A shrine to Our Lady, a gift from the Travellers was consecrated in the garden and Father David accompanied the community on their Pilgrimage to Walsingham in his role as their priest.

Harvest celebrations, All Saints and All Souls are to come and as described in the Pilgrim the bishop will make a formal Visitation to the Parish. He will say 3 Masses and hopes to meet as many of us as possible, informally. Father David has decided to have the International Mass and social evening moved from the usual weekend of Christ the King to December 15th, the weekend when we celebrate Gaudete Sunday.

As Cambridge is the big growth area in the Diocese the bishop will be very keen to see what our plans are for future growth. We will need a special Parish Forum meeting for this. Local councils’ attitudes are not currently in favour of land being used for churches even if these are shared between different denominations.

The new term has begun as have the First Communion classes. At the next Forum we hope to mention new initiatives in spirituality coming from individuals.

Questions from the floor:

Questioner from the floor doubted that Father David can cope with more initiatives.
He replied that they would be independent of him ― but no, we could not have maverick groups. We need an overall view.
Is there any point in contacting our councillors?
Yes, they appreciate Faith Communities because they volunteer in ways which help communities to form cohesive groups. 1700 dwellings are planned in the area behind Histon Road and land is changing hands at £1.4 million per hectare. Letters have been sent from the local Council of Churches and the Fraternal of Clergy. Community Centres cannot even be reserved on a Sunday morning for churches. Deacon Geoff has found no competition from other faiths and quoted £1.6 million being charged for a very basic church structure.

In reply to a question about Council policy, a form of words such as ‘I understand that there is no provision being made for …’ was suggested when writing to a Councillor.

Feedback from Communication Steering Group

Richard Birkett, Pat Cook, Jim O’Sullivan, Pat Robb, Paul Simmons, Mary Jane O’Sullivan.

Mary Jane explained that at the meeting in June the following methods of communication were discussed:

  1. Handbook: this is currently being updated but an arrangement has been made for the contact names to be on one page which can be replaced separately. Emails to be used for groups where possible or email for parish office as default.
  2. Website: Richard remains the webmaster.
  3. Pilgrim magazine: we will try to have 1-2 pages with news of contact details in each issue. It usually appears every few months.
  4. Weekly Newsletter: office hours and the email address have been added. In view of the cost involved for a new machine it was decided to keep to A5 size.
  5. Notice Boards: work done on boards in Narthex ― soon we hope to have a list of Parish groups like those at OLEM; outside the church and at the school and church porch we aim to have important information.

Proposal for Coordinating Group

Paul Simmons suggested that a small coordinating group would be useful. It should be responsible to the Parish Priest and the Parish Forum. After raising questions asking who coordinates such matters as the maintenance of church premises, ecumenism, our links with the wider community, non-liturgical spiritual activities, our links with newly-arrived immigrants, running schemes for the lapsed who wish to return, a Week of Guided Prayer, he suggested a coordinating group’s function would be to sustain momentum between meetings of the Forum.

In order to consider various models such a group could take as for example described in The Tablet could we have a few volunteers?

Anxieties were voiced lest ‘another bureaucratic layer be formed which might take on a life of its own, reducing the Parish Forum to a cipher’, which it was claimed was similar to what had happened in the past.

Replies: A Forum of our size is unwieldy and the whole group need not be involved in the minutiae or what may be sensitive material e.g. Concerning individuals. If we were all to express our individual ideas we would be here all night. Even in 2 months a lot can happen which need not await the next Parish Forum. Surely it is about Aims and Objectives and serving the wider community? What if we have new initiatives and ideas of other ways to help a parish develop? We could prepare material and ideas for the next Forum.

Jim called for a vote to consider whether to proceed to explore various models of a coordinating group.

Those in favour 17
Those against 11
Abstentions 7

Virginia Bird, Teresa Campbell, Aileen Kielinger, Irial MacGinley, Paul Simmons, Steve Stafford volunteered to come to the next meeting with some concrete proposals.

Parish Jubilee 2008

Please bring detailed ideas for the Golden Jubilee of the Parish to the next Forum meeting.

North Cambridge Churches

Plans had been made to visit the new inhabitants of our parishes. The Cambridge Community pastor had produced a flyer with a map showing the churches. We hope to visit in pairs, one Catholic and one from another church.

If anyone would like to be a representative on the group there is a meeting next week. They are at 3-monthly intervals.

Family Welcoming

Karen Rodgers introduced a booklet designed to welcome the newly baptized and their families. Many parents find it difficult to attend Mass and maintain a Catholic atmosphere in which to bring up their children. Besides being welcome in church we have Mustard Seeds for pre-school children, Mum’s prayer group, Parents discussion group, Catholic Family Afternoons, and a Catholic Families Website letter. Contact numbers are inside the booklet. We are asked to encourage all families to take part in these groups. After all they are the crucial new life for our parish.

School News

Apologies from Barbara Quail whose father has recently died.

At 235 we have the highest roll ever. We have 1 extra teacher and the council has plans for expansion.

Sister Pat and a parent, in an attempt to offset their carbon footprint made in the summer holidays, plan an orchard of local apple trees in the area near the pond. £15 (approximately) ensures your tree will be included.

Any Other Business

CWL are taking shoeboxes to St Laurence’s School 10.10.07 and making an appeal for children in E. Europe. The boxes should be filled and returned by 30.10.07.

Date of Next Meeting

This will be on Tuesday December 4th 2007.

The meeting closed at 9.40pm and we enjoyed coffee and a chat.