Minutes of St Laurence’s Parish Forum : 16 July 2015

Present: Fr Pat, Fr Bob, Fr Alvan, Rev Geoff Cook, Jim O'Sullivan (Chair), 10 parishioners


Norah Darby, Karen Rodgers, Mary Jane and Sophie O'Sullivan, Stephen Warde, Dick Wilson, Sue Price.

Matters arising

Newsletter / Bulletin: Richard Birkett reported that tendering by invitation is in process to find the best value photocopier. He is in touch with 3 rental providers. Quotations are likely to be higher than we pay at present but it will do more than we can do at present including colour and it will be fine for doing the Pilgrim in house in at least as good quality, probably better. There will be flexibility for the Bulletin, it could be A4 much of the time but A5 in the periods, ie summer holidays, when there is less material.

Data Base: Richard Birkett and Dick Wilson have met regarding this. It is difficult to run a pilot because of the problem of finding suitable data. It is proposed that a Parish-wide survey is taken probably in September to get up to date information. There are problems re data protection even with regard to "soft" issues. Many people are cautious about giving their information in case it is misused. It is essential that exactly how the data will be used is completely clear from the outset and tangible benefits need to be established for individuals. An example could be for Fr. Pat to be able to email the whole parish if something important and urgent came up. Training could be well targeted which would be good. No one would be on the data base unless they had given their clear consent. Material would not be given to 3rd parties and people in the Parish would not automatically have access. The survey in the autumn needs to be clear and inviting.

Chairs: After a hiatus these gave been ordered. It is suggested Emmaus might like the old ones.

Ordinary Assembly on the Family to be held in Rome in October

The parish's contribution in the form of the questionnaire undertaken by 120 members of the parish in April and by two small discussion groups, has been reported within the Pilgrim. The material should be on the website soon. The summary and graphs were sent to Bishop Alan and to the Cardinal and Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, who are the formal representatives of England and Wales. A further copy went to the Bishop's Conference in Ecclestone Square. Very nice letters of appreciation have been received by Fr Pat.

Fr. Bob reminded us that this autumn's meeting is the second half and that the working document is available on line. He commented that while some representatives may hope this is the end, Pope Francis "pulls no punches". If this is kept alive teaching will evolve and develop as the Church does change over time.


The 9.30 Sunday Mass will be held in Church over August.

Fr. Bob spoke of the need for training for readers etc. It is hoped that some people from the school may become Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist (Eucharistic Ministers). Fr. Pat said that he wanted people who serve, read or administer the Eucharist to more closely represent the congregation in age, gender and ethnic mix.

It is planned that a session of training for readers is organised.

It is proposed that there are microphones at the 9.30 Mass for readers and on the altar. Martin Avery is looking into this, there may need to be a master box. With regard to the present poor quality of sound in Church, Martin Avery has said that as the mikes are directional they should pick up voices provided the mike is facing the reader.

It was noted that the heaters had been on during the hot period and that the thermostats did not seem to have been working. It was suggested that welcomers could be asked to take responsibility for opening and closing windows before and after Mass.

The Bishop has been to the parish three times; to the Ablaze Mass, to Confirmation and to Fr Paul Maddison's father's funeral.


Deacon John Steel is doing the finances for the parish. He has offered to produce a 6 month interim report.

Social Life

SVP lunch for older parishioners will be held on 2nd May

Cafod: Nora Darby is doing the social event for Cafod which will include an afternoon party for St Laurence's day to be held on 9th August. It is planned that Cafod will do something on the theme of the Pope's encyclical Laudato Si.

A lady in the parish has offered to lightly touch up the face and hands of the statue of St Laurence but some people like them as they are so it will be left.


Laudato Si: An overview has been produced by Cafod which has been sent to supporters with a view to promoting it in the parish. Thus year the Family Fast Day falls on St Francis's feast day and it is suggested that preaching and activities be based around Laudato Si.

There will be a 4 week study group starting at the beginning of September using the encyclical, two copies of which are in the library upstairs, using a study guide shortly to be published.

The Live Simply award: We need to look at its practical implications. Although it feels as if little follow up has been done it us apparent that there is a raising of consciousness and people are noted to be talking about living simply in various forums. An outdoor activity, a walk or cycling group perhaps would be a nice addition.

Christine Brierley is running the Confirmation course. This year it was open to people aged 13 or over at the start of the course. From next year it will be open to anyone in Year 8 (the school year in which they turn 13) or above. Sue Price and Barbara Quail continue to do the First Communion programme. Many thanks are expressed for this. Parents say that the children really enjoy the First communion programme

Baptism preparation continues with Helen Allen and Rosina Abdulai leading this with Fr. Pat. It is well attended. Parents and Godparents are invited but attendance is not a pre-requisite for Baptism; however many come along and enjoy it. It is suggested that an annual special Mass and party be held for all those who have had children Baptised and the Sunday of the Baptism of the Lord seems an excellent date for this.

Marriage preparation has continued for 25 couples though only 4 have actually been married in the Church. Most are from a wide range of countries and go home for the actual wedding. Marriage Care provide a day in Newmarket.

For those who have been bereaved a letter is sent for each November asking that the family would like the deceased person to be prayed for.

Starting 1st November there will be a week of accompanied prayer. This is an Ignatian experience in which the people who sign up are allocated a prayer companion who they will meet each day for 30 minutes at a time to suit. The Companion will be someone trained in this and they will listen to the individual and suggest ways of developing their prayer over the next 24 hours. A week of guided prayer (the old name for this) was held about 20 years ago and is well remembered by those who took part. We are offering this to neighbouring churches and Rev Nick Moir, the vicar of St. Andrew's Chesterton, is very keen for his parish to be involved. OLEM did this is March 2015 and people who did not sign up heard what a good experience it was and are keen to join us. Further details will be given in the autumn.

Buildings and Grounds

The mosaic in the garden is there under the big tree.

The balcony rail is proving to be a very difficult and potentially very expensive problem as any change virtually involves rebuilding the whole balcony. It is therefore felt that this should be put aside. However, Fr Pat suggested that TV screens might be a solution and this could be looked at in conjunction with CCTV if it is planned to keep the church building open for prayer.

Storage cupboard under the stairs in the Parish Room is going ahead.

A new window is replacing the broken one on the Church.

An updated fire assessment has been carried out and some extra items will be put in place including a lit exit sign over the outside door to the passage with the kitchen.

The diocesan finance officer has asked if we wish to continue letting the small plot of garden near to the shed or whether we would prefer to sell it to the people who currently rent it. It was felt that it would not be wise to sell this small piece of land.

The porch door has been seen by the firm who installed it. It continues to be a serious problem and it seems that we may be at the point of considering changing the door for a more "user friendly" one. A glass door would mean people approaching could be seen which is safer as well as mire welcoming. Opening pads can be fitted to swing doors. This will be discussed in more detail at the next forum.

Car parking. Parents from Milton Road School park at drop off and pick up time but people have been misusing this and leaving their cars while going to work etc thus blocking legitimate church goers in. Notices were put on all parked cars and the problem has stopped.

A local nursery has asked if a few of their staff could park here regularly and Christine Knight has spoken with them and a trial period will be undertaken. They will make a voluntary donation to SVP. We will let them know when funerals are scheduled.

The cycle track continues to be a worry.


Mary Jane O'Sullivan is to be the new chair of governors from September.

Parish Groups

SVP has a new member.


Virginia Bird and Rosina Abudulai went to a meeting in Norwich which produced a lot of excellent ideas for activities churches can do as responses to Pope Francis' call for a new evangelisation. There is to be a Home Mission Sunday, 20th September when we will receive prayer cards and are asked to pray using this prayer:

Loving Father,
We pray for those baptised who no longer or rarely attend church:
That they will understand and experience in their hearts that Christ is the source of unconditional love and reconciliation.
We pray for everyone who worships in our parish community, that we may find the right words and means to invite our absent brothers and sisters to return to the practice of their faith

We are asked to use it every Sunday in the bidding prayers until Christmas and it is suggested that the congregation join with it each time.

Posada. This is a tradition from Central America. Each parish will be receiving a statue of Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. A plan is made so that the statue passes from one household to another daily over Advent and each household is asked to invite friends and neighbours in to see the statue, to pray together very simply and to share simple hospitality , coffee and biscuits, tea and cake etc.

We are asked to become more open in our following of Jesus and to use His Name openly in our conversations.

The Ordo is now to be found on line.

Dates and topics for future Forums