Minutes of St Laurence’s Parish Forum : 4 October 2010

Fr. Pat Cleary opened the meeting with prayer.
The meeting began at 8pm with Jim O’Sullivan in the chair and 30+ parishioners present.

1. Apologies

Apologies were received from Rev Geoffrey Cook, Janet and Jim Scally, Margaret Plumb, Iriel and Mary MacGinley, Karen Rodgers, Mary Jane O’Sullivan.

2. Minutes of Previous Meeting

The Minutes were displayed on the Narthex boards and on the Website. There were no comments so their approval was assumed.

3. Matters arising

Parish Handbook
This is now out and people have received their copies. It is intended as a living document and can be updated as needed. The meeting expressed thanks to Stephen Warde for his work in producing this.
Daily Masses
It was noted that these have changed since Fr. Pat’s arrival as he has his day off on Tuesdays. The Website therefore needs updating but Fr. Pat stressed the need to check with the weekly Bulletin for changes in weekday Mass times or by ringing the office.

4. Implementation Group update

Paul Simmonds spoke to this item. He said that the group was there to carry forward ideas and actions of the Forum. To date there had been 4 meetings with 11 members who it was felt did not accurately represent the parish as members mostly attended the 11am Mass and younger members as well as those from minority groups are needed and would be welcomed.

Actions of the group had involved supporting the farewell to Fr. David and welcome to Fr. Pat, in particular the display afternoon. It was felt this was a very successful afternoon and that it had been good to meet up with people and see what was going on and perhaps it might be repeated in due course.

The most recent meeting of the group had included Fr. Pat.

It is proposed that the group meets twice between meetings of the Forum. One meeting will be shortly after the Forum meeting to check if there are any activities to monitor and once shortly before the next meeting. The group makes no formal decisions with regard to any proposals of the Forum.

Areas that may need explorations: communication within parish; co-ordination in parish; youth provision; the garden; security; the Diocesan Pastoral Plan.

Paul wished to say as an individual rather than reflecting the group that he felt the name of the group should change, perhaps to Facilitation Group as the decisions were those of the Parish and the group’s role is to facilitate.

Fr. Pat said that he would refer to the Forum for good organisation and recommendations as he had in his previous parish but reminded the meeting that the Forum is an advisory consultative group and not an executive group as this is the nature of the Catholic church.

Paul Simmons said that to change the name makes sense and there was general approval of this suggestion.

It was felt that work with regard to the Pastoral Plan should fit well within the items on the agenda.

Paul Simmons said that it would be good to find ways of encouraging others to become active in parish activity and life.

Fr. Pat said he had appreciated the Parish afternoon.

With regard to young people it was said that the targeting group had always been the Confirmation group.

It was said that regular pleas for help in specific projects direct were made at Mass.

The Census forms were mentioned as being a good way of targeting helpers. Lynda McIntyre asked if the Welcoming group for 11am Mass had worked and Paul Simmons was able to say that it had and continues to work even though several people have left, moved etc.

Mary Watkins said she had used the Census material, that the office and the Parish Handbook were good tools for finding helpers but said that offering to help on one or two occasions did not mean someone had to find themselves signed up for life.

It was noted that personal contact is usually the best way to get volunteers.

5. Liturgy

Fr. Pat said he is so impressed with the quality of Liturgy in the parish in particular with the music at 9.30 and 11am Masses and the contrast of the quiet 8am Mass. He feels that the church should be as broad as possible to help all parishioners needs.

He said that in due course he would like to look at Christmas and Easter but would not do anything until after he had been here for both seasons. He said he would like to have a Mass for the Sick in the middle of spring when people who receive the Eucharist at home. He would like the seating arrangements to allow for laying on of hands and receipt of the Oils. He would like to introduce this next year.

Fr. Pat said that he had been told he spoke too fast at Mass and he was trying to slow down.

He was asked about omitting the Hail Mary at the end of the main bidding prayers and after a show of hands it was decided to continue to use it on one Sunday in the month for the people who really missed it. He said that the positioning of the Hail Mary at this place in the Liturgy is unique to the UK.

Shauna deWolf asked about the bidding prayers and said that she and some others would like this done by the laity. Fr. Pat said that these prayers were the prayers of the people and as such should be by the laity but there were problems if they became too dull or formulaic. He supported the wish and Sr. Pat said that on special Sundays such as Prison Sunday special biddings were issued by organisations and she often received them. Aileen Kielinger asked about the Prayer Board that used to be in the Narthex for use in personal prayers. The board is missing and apparently was in poor condition, another is due to arrive soon.

Fr. Pat would appreciate lively and focussed prayers from the people and Shauna will follow this up.

Paul Simmonds asked who to go to for Liturgy requests. Richard Birkett said that any music requests should go to the Music Group .

Fr. Pat said he would like in due course to buy some nice new vestments as many that are used are quite old and worn.

It was asked when the new order of Mass translations would be used. Fr. Pat said that it was again delayed probably to Advent 2011.

Fr. Pat would like to have a series of House Masses on the first 3 Mondays in Advent. To agree who attends each a sign up list would be set up. These Masses would be in the evenings.

Elizabeth McLuskey said people come to the church and then find no Mass and Fr. Pat urged that people check the Bulletin sheet for Mass times.

6. Finance

Fr. Pat said that when financial questions arose they were usually about “is the money being misused?” “is the money being stolen?” He is sure there is no problem like this but his experience is that if people are told fully about finances there are usually no questions. He said his practice is to speak at Mass in mid-Lent after Communion so that in no way does this take precedence over the Word of God. At this time the year is new and the Diocesan figures are issued. Finance Committees are directed from Rome (but not Forums) and a meeting is planned. Lynda McIntyre does the books and Fr. Pat is very happy.

7. Social Life

Fr. Pat would like a strawberry tea for older parishioners and this is something that is already done.


Fr. Pat said this is very important part of Parish life and he is happy with it.

With regard to Confirmation, Fr. David used to do this but Fr. Pat feels he is not best placed and would like volunteers. He said he would support and help.

Regarding Adult Catechesis it was said that there are many opportunities in Cambridge as well as the Diocesan programme there is the Margaret Beaufort Institute, Blackfriars etc. These needs displaying on notice boards.

The Cafod group wants to do more work underpinning the theological basis of Cafod.

RCIA used to be run as a group with parishioners and people wishing to be admitted to the Church together. Fr. Pat felt that this was in many ways a good way to do it.

Karen Rodgers had asked that there should be help to refresh and revamp toys etc for small children and would welcome help and thoughts. Fr. Pat sees this as important.

It was felt that the ages 8+ need something for themselves to bridge a gap.

Rosina Abdullah urged that we think constructively with regard to youth. A parish sports day at school was suggested.

9. Buildings and grounds

These seem to be in good shape. Fr. Pat said that the house is comfortable. He suggested that the tarmac outside needs work and that the parking places are worn out, there are puddles from tree roots and the drain in the middle does not drain adequately. Iriel McGinley has suggested one entrance to be designated IN and the other OUT and this was felt to be a good idea. The need for Disabled spots was mentioned and also that a hatched area near the doors be painted to give access to emergency vehicles. There was discussion whether the disability Act actually required this. Tony Brotchie reminded the meeting that it is illegal to park on the pavement outside the church and that the police give parking tickets.

Foliage on the trees and shrubs could do with a trim to make the entrances clearer.

Notice boards promised for the Parish Room were in hand but it was requested that there should be provision for projections with a screen. Sr. Pat said Oakington Detention Centre had offered some boards free and it was urged that these were accepted as they are always usable and are expensive.

Fr. Pat said that the notices boards were often a mess with very old and discoloured notices hung from one drawing pin etc. He said he would like to see long term notices laminated to preserve the colour. Notices on the glass board outside can still be out of date. The main board on the road side still has Fr. David’s name and Fr. Pat suggests this is simply blotted out − people can ring to find out the priest or read the notices.

The garden is superb now. Walter transformed it on Saturday with a work party. Fr. Pat feels the fence dividing the presbytery from the church garden could be taken down as it is a little pointless. He felt the whole garden is a lovely facility at the back. There was a comment about the pampas grass and a suggestion that an allotment be set up was mooted.

Arn Dekker is prepared to cut the trees and Michael S would help.

10. School

Fr. Pat is happy to be involved with a school again.

Tomorrow, 5th October is the PTFA AGM.

11. Diocesan Issues

The Bishop’s health appears to be deteriorating. Fr. Pat asked us to continue to remember him in prayer.

Fr. Pat felt it was good idea to take parts of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan and to work on it. The recent visit of Pope Benedict was mentioned as a reason to respond.

Present issues in the Diocese are parish merges which largely affect rural parishes. Fr. Pat reminded the meeting that England still has a very good ratio of priests to people in comparison to places like South America and Africa which are often cited as having many priests. St. Ives currently has two Polish priests who are a great success.

12. Parish Groups


Thanks were made for the success of the Harvest Appeal and it was pointed out that a few items still remain for purchase in the Narthex. In Advent a Simple Supper is planned as well as another day of reflection at Margaret Beaufort to be led by Anna Rowlands. World Gifts books will soon be available and it was suggested that perhaps the Parish have a big push this year may be building our own “Virtual Village”.


Arn Dekker said that the Justice and Peace group which is mainly based at OLEM was running an evening event on Saturday 16th October at 7.30 pm.


Michael McEwan said there were 4 in the group and that they met fortnightly and visited a number of families. He asked to be allowed to sell SVP Christmas cards in the church. At Christmas SVP linked with CWL give a lunch for senior parishioners. This last year it was moved to spring due to the excessive cold weather and had been a great success.

SVP has a holiday cottage at Wells next the Sea for families and Fr. Pat said the owners really want it used all the time.

13. AOB

Rosina Abdulai spoke of the lack of meetings for minority groups and hoped Fr. Pat would meet up with Indian groups etc. He saw this as a kind of extension of the home visit pattern and will put dates in the diary.

It was asked why weekday Mass was always at a time only those who are not at work can attend and asked that early or evening Masses be considered too.

A lack in the parish was noted for young adults, ie 25−35 years. The focus is always on families and this leaves out those without children or not in marriage. Fr. Pat felt this could be a city-wide issue and said he does not make a big event of Mother’s Day for this reason but acknowledged that the single/childless could be a “forgotten category”.

Sr. Pat said that events at Margaret Beaufort Institute and Clare Priory could fulfil part of this and should be well advertised.

In the past there was a 40-something group − perhaps a 30-something group could be formed.

There was a request for the bins and recycling to be noted.

Jim O’Sullivan drew attention to the parish lunch this Sunday.

14. Dates of future meetings

Thursday 20th January 2011
Monday 11th April 2011
Thursday 7th July 2011
Monday 10th October 2011

The meeting concluded at 9.40 p.m.