Minutes of St Laurence’s Parish Forum : 11 March 2010

Fr David Paul opened the meeting with prayers.

The meeting commenced at 8pm with Jim O'Sullivan in the Chair, and thirteen other parishioners.


Apologies were received from Margaret Plumb and Richard Birkett.

Minutes of the last meeting

It was hoped that everyone present had seen the minutes which are placed on the notice board in the Narthex.

Matters Arising

Paul Simmons reported that there are more welcomers now, and Fr David said he feels there is a greater sense of welcoming at the 11am mass. Overall, it is going well, with minor occasional problems when people don't turn up on their allocated day. Helping latecomers find the empty seats in church is still something to be worked on. Paul has got name badges for welcomers to wear if they wish. A cupboard in the porch will be allocated for name badges and census forms.
It was agreed that the 2 benches should be relocated from the balcony to the back of church, leaving 2 rows of chairs (instead of 3).

Back 2 benches need to be fixed to the ground to protect the space between them (to allow people to get through).

Fr David to discuss moving of benches with Irial McGinley.

Jim O'Sullivan to produce laminated notices asking people not to sit on the stairs.

Parish Handbook
Stephen Ward has updated the parish handbook and Paul Simmons has proof read it. There will be an initial print run of 500 copies. Plan is to give a copy to every family with the bulletin one Sunday. The rest will be kept in the cupboard in the porch (along with census forms) - to be given out as needed on Sundays.

Fr David to check with various parish groups that their entry is up to date this weekend.

Stephen will feedback any corrections to the website.

Showing Christian Films in Parish Rooms
This was proposed at last forum - no update available.
Outside Speakers
It was suggested that we could have occasional outside speakers at future forum meetings. Any suggestions about this to Fr David or Jim O'Sullivan please.

Parish Update

Fr. David has recently sent parish statistics for last year to the diocese:

50 children made their First Holy Communion (48 are being prepared this year)
31 young people were Confirmed (about 15 are being prepared so far this year)
3 adults were received into the church (4 are due to be received this Easter)
11 marriages were celebrated
28 funerals were held
Average Sunday mass attendance was 759 (an increase of about 20 people)
Sr Pat added that there have been 4 recent baptisms with confirmations at the Oakington Detention Centre. Also more volunteers have come forward to be visitors at Oakington.

We are now the 6th or 7th largest parish in the diocese.

The School remains heavily over-subscribed. Plans for expansion are currently on hold -there is still support from the diocese and local authority for expansion and we are top of the list. The delay is due to lack of immediate funding. Otherwise, the school is happy and lively with lots going on.

There was a recent good collection for the Haiti earthquake appeal. The CAFOD Live Simply supper 2 weeks ago raised about £500. Fr Aidan from Blackfriars held a successful appeal evening for the Blackfriars Ethiopia project.

Buildings Update

Next project is to decorate the walls of the parish room. Plan is to put up a picture rail so that occasional items can be put on display without damaging the paintwork. Two things to include in the plans are:

  1. A Projection Area (for OHP/powerpoint)
  2. Space for large pictures (such as those the children's liturgy group sometimes produce in Advent)

A small room for the flower arrangers' equipment has been built between the sacristy and the church.

Bishop Michael's Report on the Diocesan Pastoral Plan

There is a copy of this in the narthex and on the Diocesan website. Jim O'Sullivan presented a brief summary:

Section 1 - A Community of Welcome
Generally newcomers are being integrated, though there is still work to do.
The Diocesan Youth Service (run by Hamish McQueen) continues to be active - most events are in the north of the diocese.
Section 2 - a Community of Mission
This includes RCIA, Justice and Peace, CAFOD, the school. A lot is happening that is 'inward looking'. There is scope to do more 'outward looking' work.
The twinning with Jerusalem and Cambodia are to continue.
Section 3 - Restructuring/Clustering of Parishes
This has started and will be ongoing. St Laurence's is unlikely to be affected in the short term at least. The deanery structure is not being used much. Out deanery consists of 3 city and 4 rural parishes. Inter-parish activities include Justice and Peace, Catechists' training and Marriage Care.
There is an ongoing need for lay people to take on roles.
The Diocesan Council of Laity meets twice a year - the topic at the May meeting will be 'Vocations' (not just priestly vocations).
Section 4 - Sacramental Life
This year there will be 2 ordinations plus 2 new priests in religious orders as well as 2 existing priests 'freed up' from the clustering of parishes.

Overall, people have found the pastoral plan helpful - it will continue.

A parishioner asked about the church's response to increasing secularism in society. Fr David replied that the Bishop is very aware of this and a lot happens behind the scenes.

Sr Pat encouraged people to approach parliamentary candidates in the run up to the general election, eg. at hustings making salient points and pointing out that we are a parish with 750 regular Mass goers.

Fr David will advertise hustings in Cambridge to parishioners if he is sent details so that parishioners can attend.

Parish Lunches

These have been going for nearly 2 years now and frequency has increased to every month, on the 2nd Sunday. They are generally going well with understandably slightly lower attendance in the winter months. The February lunch had to be cancelled. It was stressed that a new list of dates needs to be advertised and that, once advertised, the lunches must go ahead.

Mary Jane O'Sullivan to discuss with lunchgoers at the next lunch (14th March) whether to continue with monthly lunches to revert to every other month, then to arrange suitable advertising.

Implementation Group

At present, some ideas that are generated at the Parish Forum get lost unless someone volunteers on the day to act on them. It was proposed that an implementation group could meet in between Forum meetings to help ensure that such ideas are carried forward. There is some suggestion in the Diocesan Pastoral Plan that parish's could have an ongoing group. It was agreed that the remit of such a group would be to facilitate rather than control and that its relationship to the Forum would need to be made clear.

Paul Simmons and Fr David to write some terms of reference for an Implementation Group with a view to recruiting volunteers for the group before the next Forum. Recruitment to be a mixture of approaching individuals and parish-wide appeal.

Chairmanship of the Parish Forum

Jim O'Sullivan has now chaired the forum for 3 years and put himself forward either to be replaced or reappointed as chair. It was agreed that he should be reappointed.

Secretary: Thanks were expressed to Margaret Simmons for having been secretary for 2 years and to Margaret Plumb for having taken minutes in her absence. Jim O'Sullivan to draft an appeal for a new secretary.

CAFOD Report

This was sent in by Mary Watkins and is attached to these minutes (hard copy only - see the Narthex notice board).

Any other business

Cupboard in Narthex
This contains lots of lost property (some of it quite old). Sr Pat could use some of it for Oakington if unclaimed. Tony Brotchie to clear out cupboard. Parishioners to have a final chance to claim lost property before it's disposed of.
Parish Forum Agenda
In future, this will be printed in advance and inserted into weekly bulletin.
Families Bill
A petition was put out for those that wish to sign - petitioning the Bishops to reconsider their position on sex education. Also, The Good Council Network is organising a day of prayer and fasting on 15 March to pray that the Bill does not become law.
The Daily Bread
This is a Christian whole food co-operative just off King Hedges Rd that relies largely on volunteers. They've recently had to decrease their numbers of paid staff and are in need of more volunteers. A few hours per week or month would help. Karen Rodgers to advertise further in parish for volunteers.
St Laurence School PTFA
Two upcoming dates:

Date of next meeting

It was agreed that the next meeting would be in May, the precise date to be arranged nearer the time.