Minutes of St Laurence’s Parish Forum : 2 July 2019


Chair: Stephen Warde
Minutes: Sarah Sykes
In attendance: Fr Simon, Fr Bob and 18 parishioners.


Christine Knight, Serga Collett, Nora Darby, Mary Watkins.

Minutes of last meeting

These were agreed to be an accurate record.

Matters arising

Live streaming – thanks were given to the Tech Group for all their hard work in completing the successful set-up and running of this new Parish service. It has been much appreciated by parishioners and their families living further afield for the ability to share in the Confirmation, weddings and funerals Masses, as well as everyday Mass.

Winter Comfort – it was noted that Wintercomfort are coming to the Parish on the weekend of 27 and 28 July to talk about the charity as suggested by Parish Forum member, Paul Simmons.

Confirmation and Youth Groups presentation

Helena Judd, who organises the youth group, Confirmation preparation and is part of the Ablaze team, presented with Laura and Anya two parishioners who were recently confirmed this summer. Helena begun by talking about the Confirmation programme. We have had 14 candidates confirmed this year. Last year there had been a total of 29 but this included candidates from Phillip Howard encouraged by Fr Jay and OLEM whose candidates preferred the St Laurence’s date and St Vincent’s (Fen Ditton) who had a relative who was also getting confirmed in our Parish. The candidates learned that being confirmed was not only about committing yourself to your Catholic faith but also about taking on responsibilities to the Parish, of being part of the Parish and contributing to it. Alongside a PowerPoint display, Helena explained how the programme has grown and developed and how it was often driven by the candidates own questions about their faith. There were 11 teaching sessions and 5 social sessions, which included a Vocations session when parishioners in the Parish came and spoke about how they put their faith into action through their work and through their voluntary roles in the Parish. This session demonstrated the many ways people contribute to Parish life. By the end of the preparation programme the candidates felt they had a better relationship with God, a better connection with each other and a better connection with the Parish as well as a better understanding on how to pray and why we go to Mass.

Laura and Anya then talked about what might make the ‘Perfect Parish’ in the eyes of the youth. They explained that things could be better for the youth. Learning about Mass and our Faith does not stop at a certain age. There should be continued discovery and growth. They asked us to consider whether there could be a type of Children’s Liturgy for teenagers? Could there by a Youth Zone for children of secondary school age where they could hang-out comfortably, put up posters, have some resources to help them with their faith journey? They explained that the subject of Theology at school does not teach them about the Catholic Faith but about all religions, which while important does not satisfy the need for them to be taught and grow and in their own Faith. They also mentioned that following a joint altar servers outing with other churches, they felt that our altar servers’ outfits were past their best and it would be appreciated if we could invest in some new clothing for the servers. And they asked the question, when there is no Children’s Liturgy, how can we encourage the younger children to keep focussed during Mass?

Helena then went on to explain her ideas for next year’s Confirmation programme which would include taking an active part in the life of the church by participating in the Mass – particularly Ablaze – volunteering to help at, at least, two children’s liturgy sessions each, attending at least one Parish Forum and link up with our SVP group as prayer partners. She also proposed to start a junior youth group for 8-11yr olds to bridge the gap between the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation, as well as developing a young adult group (post-university) for 25-35 yr olds which would consist of talking about religion and sharing food. The aim is to find connections within their peer group and to develop a strong connection to the Parish before they have children. A Forum member recommended ‘Christus vivet’ as a useful resource for this group.

Helena also commented that she would welcome suggestions for engaging the parents to get onboard with their children doing church activities, particularly in connection with preparing for Confirmation, and a Forum member suggested that sessions for parents ahead of the Confirmation programme which would help them to see how they could support their children; answer the questions they might have about the Catholic faith and give them confidence in talking about their faith.

The Forum was encouraged to hear of these plans and developments and the Chair offered thanks on behalf of the Parish to Helena and the whole team who work on the Confirmation programme.

Buildings and Grounds

Parking: Fr Simon reported on the new parking scheme, brought in without reference to the Forum due to nearby roads becoming residents only parking. He explained the system, which operates through the week but not on Sundays. For extra visits to church, parishioners either need to log their cars using the touch screen tablet at the back of the church, which allows permission for use for the day, or ensure that they have been added to the permanent members list by Fr Simon. With regard to visitors for funerals or similar, Fr Simon will inform funeral directors and families as these events happen. There is still a 30-minute grace period for those who use the car park to drop off/pick up children from the nearby school or nursery. People should still feel welcome at the church but understand that we need to keep our car park for our own use, which we hadn’t been able to do recently. Some Forum members felt that the signage was a bit excessive and unwelcoming, and wondered if it would be possible to moderate it or change the wording to remove the word permit, and remove the signs affixed to the church buildings. Fr Simon said he would enquire of the company. Action: Fr Simon: signage amendment/removal

Church Roof: the quote from Cambridge Roofers has been accepted by the Finance Committee, but because Fr Simon will be away from the Parish from 19 August – 19 September, he has decided that the work should start toward the latter half of September or the beginning of October when he will be able to supervise. Action: Fr Simon: finalise dates and supervise work

Sanctuary: Fr Simon showed pictures of some examples of Sanctuaries to help illustrate the work he wants to accomplish in our Sanctuary. This included the parish church of Newmarket which was reordered by Fr Michael Griffin, and which included a discreet screen/projector set-up. Other photos showed, free standing candles instead of altar candles, a conformity of design across the altar, tabernacle and lectern, and a raised tabernacle area. The photos will remain on display in the Parish Room for a short while. Fr Simon also mentioned that we will be able to repurpose some stone kept from a previous altar which is still on church grounds. He also addressed the concern that the new stone flooring could lead to a trip hazard with the steps onto the Sanctuary all blending into one, by setting the middle step in a slightly darker stone to the rest of the flooring. Fr Simon is also considering changing the tabernacle from a rounded design to a square design. He knows where he can source a free square tabernacle. The architectural technician is still putting together drawings, and these will be displayed as soon as they are available. Fr Simon also explained that with the reordering the readers’ lectern would be moved to the left of the altar and shared with the music leader. He would ensure that the newly designed lectern could accommodate the large Liturgy book and the music books. Forum members suggested that if we have a screen installed that it could be used to show the Liturgy of the Word and the hymns to help make the Mass better accessible for all. This would be something for future consideration. Action: Fr Simon: to bring architect technician’s plans to next Forum

Liturgy and Social

Creation Celebration and Parish Picnic: this event will take place over the weekend of 13/14 July starting with a garden tidy up on Saturday afternoon. Lots of help needed including weed pulling, and ‘man with van’ for disposing of all the cleared foliage. It is planned to follow this tidy up with one in October. The Creation Celebration Mass, part of CAFOD’s theme of Climate and our Common Home, on Sunday will include Children’s Liturgy artwork where the children will make leaf-hands to hang on a giant tree in the church. Seeds and plants are asked to be brought for the offertory with a view to them being planted in the garden. Followed by a bring & share lunch in the Parish garden. It is hoped to be able to have a similar event in time for Pentecost next year also.

Sudan: Tony King reported on behalf of the SVP that their appeal to help SVP’s work in Sudan and South Sudan was successfully launched on 22/23 June and thanked the Parish for its generous response. It will continue for the next 6 months to raise funds with a monthly collection and hopes also to raise awareness of the concept of SVP work abroad, known as Twinnage. He asked for the support and prayers of the Forum for the project.

CAFOD: Jeanette reported that she had attended the Climate Change Lobby in London recently where Cambridge had the largest MP attendance. However, it had been a fairly pointless exercise as it seems that nothing is being accomplished in Parliament due to the overarching concern of Brexit. The Chair also read a brief report from Parish CAFOD rep, Serga Collett, who reported the final figure for the Lent appeal was: £ 1382.84. We were also asked to note that the Parish will be visited by Jane Crone, CAFOD area manager, who will be reviewing the achievements of our Parish CAFOD group so far this year and helping us to prepare for the Harvest appeal. All are welcome to join this meeting.

SVP: their Pilgrimage to Walsingham on 7 July – there are still a few places left on the coach which is wheelchair accessible.


Dick Wilson asked whether the Parish Library could be made regularly useable for people coming into the church. Although it is accessible at times when the church is open for Mass, it is not easily accessible at other times.

He also asked whether people would be interested in gathering information and interest from other diocese about the shortage of priests, which could then be developed into a cross-diocesan conversation. A short report on the discussion evening held a few weeks ago on the topic of Married Priests had been circulated by Dick before the start of the meeting, and having read it, Forum members queried whether optional celibacy is a good thing in and of itself, whether there is a shortage of priests or not, and commented that compared to many places in the world we do not have a shortage of priests.

Rosina Abdulai enquired whether the Forum would be in favour of resurrecting the International Mass celebrating the international nature of the Parish, followed by an international bring & share. Jeanette Milbourn commented that this had been held on the feast of Christ the King in the past. Fr Simon said he was happy to support this if people would like to organise it.

Forthcoming dates for the next meetings

All meetings start at 8pm

All action points marked in yellow.