The meeting began with a prayer.
Apologies were received from Christine Knight, Richard Birkett and Mary Jane O’Sullivan.
The minutes of the last meeting were unanimously agreed as a true record.
Welcoming Returning Catholics: An initial meeting has been held to discuss this, and further meetings will be held in the autumn.
Parish Facebook page: A link to this is now on the parish website.
An overview of the provision for young people was presented by representatives of the various groups, followed by open discussion.
This takes place approximately once a term. Father Pat suggested that in order to boost numbers, dates could be set a year ahead. This was agreed to be a good idea. Other suggestions included leaflets at St Laurence school gate and posters to local nurseries.
Karen Rodgers reminded the forum that there was a need to refurbish the children’s box of resources kept at the back of the church, which should include appropriate books but also something for them to use with their hands eg rosaries. Karen offered to speak with any families who are interested in refurbishing it. Karen also spoke to us about problems we face. She said that she has been observing other communities who have improved problems including a lack of engagement of parents, and difficulty in providing activities which span a range of ages.
This started with a question about whether we could have a crèche. Jim Infield answered that this would be difficult to staff, given that there is already a shortage of leaders for the children’s liturgies which happen at 9.30 and 11am masses. Jim explained that this means that current leaders are on the rota every 3 weeks, as not enough helpers. In fact only 4 of the leaders have young children; it would be helpful if more younger parents got involved. Jim then described the content of the liturgies for children, aided by Chioma Ubajaka.
This takes place both at school and the church, Fr Pat said that it seems to work well, so will be doing this for another year although there is discussion about taking communion preparation out of school.
Stephen Chapman, supported by several of the altar servers, explained that after first communion, preparation begins for those who wish to be Altar Servers. Progress is at their own rate. After confirmation, altar servers now get the chance to explore eucharistic ministry. A question was asked about the lack of altar servers at the 6 pm and 8 am masses. Stephen replied that young people do not often wish to go to church at those times. Discussion whether they should be put on a rota through the various masses took place but it was also felt that the altar server should be going to the mass of their choice eg the mass of their liking and where they feel part of it/to which their family goes.
Helena Judd talked to us about the importance of community. The confirmation group have recently been on a night camp with activities, workshops, pilgrimage, then took part in the Ablaze masses and will continue to take part. Helena did explain that there had been relatively little support from the parents but hopes to improve this for the next course with plans to engage them at an early stage of the preparation.
Father Pat reported that this mass with an emphasis on youth continues to be a real success – numbers now between 60 and 70.
This is the primary school age version of the SVP, now well established at the school. There are also SVP youth groups aimed at years 7-9 and 9 upwards. It had been suggested that it would be good to have a group based at the church, but that this would need new volunteers to lead it.
This is a catechesis programme for children age 3+. Rooted in scripture and the Liturgy of the Church it is inspired by Maria Montessori principles of education. Maureen Underwood spoke to us about this preparation for children for mass. She showed us some resources used in this form of catechesis, which the Forum found very interesting and engaging.
It was suggested that masses from St Laurence’s should be made available live on the internet. Christine Knight has done some research on this and it appears feasible at reasonable cost. In principle it was agreed that this would be pursued.
As it had seemed beneficial to allow plenty of time for the main meeting topic, the remaining regular agenda items were omitted.
Jim O’Sullivan is standing down as chair of the Forum after 10 years, and Stephen Warde has agreed to take over from him. Jim was thanked by Father Pat and the forum for all his hard work.