PARISH OF THE SACRED HEART – ANNUAL PARISH MEETING
MONDAY 18TH MAY 2015
The Annual Parish Meeting was well attended by approximately 60 parishioners and the delicious meal was generously provided by parishioners from St. John of the Cross in Aylsham and St. Helen’s Hoveton.
Following the meal the following reports were given:
TERRY MCILWEE – CHAIR OF THE PARISH PASTORAL COMMITTEE
- Welcome everyone and in particular Fr. Sean Connolly from St. George’s, Norwich
- My thanks to all my colleagues on the PPC for the work they have done over the last two years and thanks to those who have completed their terms (or managed to escape?) in that time, Michael Hawley and Andrew Clarke. Thanks also to Clare Hardie for her excellent secretarial support.
- My report will briefly outline the activities of the PPC since 2013 as last year’s meeting was cancelled due to Fr. David’s departure to Perth and it would have been rather unkind to Fr. Michael to have asked him to report after only one day
- In the Year of Faith we held a series of events for the Parish including a very interesting and informative visit to our Diocesan Cathedral and is was surprising that for a number of parishioners it was a first visit. The brave ones amongst us actually climbed the tower and enjoyed the view over Norwich. We also invited parishioners to submit an insight into what their faith meant to them. Whilst only 6 people did so, we published the submissions anonymously and made them available in each church. They certainly made stimulating reading.
- The Parish web site has been redesigned and we are please to see more photographs are being published reflecting Parish events, so no not forget to wear your makeup to ensure that you look at your best on film! The web site also now includes the very moving and reflective Stations of the Cross which were written by Tony Crouch from St. Helen’s, so these are available for personal devotion
- We have updated the Parish literature. The history of the three communities has been produced in one booklet, the tri-fold ‘Welcome’ leaflet has been revisited for visitors and new parishioners to reflect the change of parish Priest and the change in our local Catholic Schools, the second edition of the Parish Directory has also been produced and each household by now should have one. All three of these documents are available at the back of our churches
- We have produced a ‘Welcome Pack for New Parishioners’, which are stored in each church sacristy. This included a Parish Census form and a Planned Giving and Leaving a Legacy leaflet, a STO form and a Gift Aid declaration, a Parish Directory, a list of PPC members.
- The PPC responded in November 2013 to the Bishop’s Synod Questionnaire on Marriage and Family Life, Our response, which had to be submitted within two weeks of receiving the document was sent to the Diocesan Marriage and Family Commission
- We have discussed a series of on-going issues regarding the Sacred Heart car park and particularly the need to improve the Disability Access and parking area, which has regularly been causing problems when dropping people off and trying to use the wheel chair access.
‘Fr Michael’s Leaves of Hopes and Aspirations’ We have correlated the main themes of the responses – the emphasis of most being the need to retain one central identiy within the Parish. These main themes are: Parish Community as I have just mentioned, Liturgy, Teaching and Learning and Youth
We have already started to address some of these and are hoping to move forward on others as the occasion arises but we have had to give Fr. James a little time to get his feet under the table. A Youth Mass is hopefully being planned, Libraries of books are available to borrow at St. Helen’s and at St. John of the Cross, Deacon Ron is re-running the Fr. Robert Barron series of DVDs on Catholicism, there will en an ecumenical service at the Sacred Heart during Christian Unity week.
The next phase of the Church’s New Evangelisation initiative, which focuses on parish rather than individual development, which we will hear more about from Fr. Sean later, should enhance the parish community aspect of the ‘leaves’ and will be a focus for the PPC in the next cycle.
Finally we did initiate a couple of collections for our outgoing clergy and our thanks to all those who gave generously to these.
Fr. JAMES WALSH – PARISH PRIEST
Begin with a confession. I have always dreaded parish annual meetings. It is the one occasion in the year when the parish priest can be called to account by his parish. So how pleased I was when I found that the AGM in this parish was a parish meal!
- It is good to be here. When I first came I was both sad and apprehensive: sad at leaving the Cathedral after 13 happy and fulfilling years; apprehensive at taking one three churches and making a fresh start at the age of 74. If I was grieving over the people I had left behind I know that you also were suffering the loss of Father David, one of the finest priests in the diocese. I wonder if you realise how fortunate you have been in Fr Peter, Fr David and, for a few months last year, Fr Michael. Each of them a difficult acts to follow. I wasn’t prepared for the warmth and the welcome you extended and I thank you for both. Eight months have passed since I arrived and I am still in learning mode – learning names, learning the geography of the area and much else. So this will be a short report.
- What did I find? Fr Michael described the parish as ‘functioning like a well-oiled machine’. On the whole this is true although, as ever, the role of the PP is to add an extra dollop of oil when the bearings begin to run hot!
- And what about the future? You have probably noticed that there have been no major changes since I arrived. This is partly because we are in Norfolk. But also because I want to spend my first year finding out about the parish. Working with 3 communities, each with its own history and identity is a challenge. My instinct is to respect the differences but encourage ever-greater co-operation. One of the items on the wish list last year was a desire to see a greater cohesiveness between the three churches. As Catholics we are accustomed to thinking beyond our immediate boundaries belonging as we do to a universal church. My personal wish list: faith-filled, joyful, evangelising communities, prayerful, nourishing liturgies, welcoming visitors and newcomers as well as attracting new members, able to hold young people and strengthened by the active presence of young families.
- And finally “If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it, if you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time, if you can take criticism and blame without resentment. If you can conquer tension without medical help, If you can relax without alcohol, If you can sleep without the aid of drugs, Then You Are Probably The Family Dog!
NICK SUTHERLAND – CHAIR OF THE PARISH FINANCE COMMITTEE
(Income and Expenditure Statement for 1st January 2014 – 1st January 2015 is attached)
From the Income & Expenditure Statement you will see that our total Parish income was £102,518.35 but that expenditure was £125,735.03 so that expenditure exceeds income by £23,216.68
As you would expect the Committee predicts each year’s likely financial outcome in advance and this deficit was predicted. It occurs because of a considerable amount of expenditure on churches, the Presbytery gardens and on the rented property at 2 Norwich Road, North Walsham.
The Committee have developed a long-term strategy to deal with this by creating a property reserve fund (which is separate from the current account whose details you will see on the income and expenditure statement) Consequently there were reserves available to meet the deficit comfortably. You will see that in the figures for last year part of the expenditure involved transferring £4,774.75 in to the property reserve fund.
Further expenditure will take place during the current year most obviously for the rooking work at Aylsham. Approximately 50% of the costs of the re-rooking has been my by local fundraising efforts in Aylsham and I would like to congratulate and thank the community there for their generosity in raising that contribution and would also like to thank Peter Adamson in particular for his hard work in organising that fundraising effort. The remainder of the expenditure on the roof will come out of Parish funds but will be met out of the property reserve fund.
Overall I am happy to report that the Parish finances are in good order. As I am sure you appreciate the Finance Committee makes a great effort to be careful with the Parish funds and I would like to offer my thanks to all the members of the Committee for their hard work and contribution.
As you know the Parish is twinned with a Parish in Cambodia. As many of you will now know a charity has now been created called Support Cambodia. I am sure the whole Parish wishes it well. I think it is worth making the point that the Parish funds have never been used to subsidise the fundraising efforts of, in particular, Bob and Katie Maidment. As the AGM I was asked about the expenditure on the Parish Project. As the Chair of the Finance Committee my remit is to ensure the soundness of the finances of the Parish and not to handle the day-to-day bookkeeping, which is dealt with very efficiently by Annabel Goodlet. As Annabel was not present I did not wish to answer a question about the day-to-day expenditure without being certain that I was correct. What I knew to be the case and I was able to confirm was that the Parish Project was entirely financed by fundraising and did not impinge on the finances of the Parish with which I am primarily concerned.
In fact what I thought was the case would have been correct, namely that the reference to a Parish Project last year was a reference to the money raised for Cambodia. The reason that in the accounts for last year the expenditure on the Parish Project exceeded the expenditure was due to the fact that the previous year the fundraising for Cambodia had exceeded the expenditure so that last year when the Support Cambodia charity was set up the surplus that had been raised by separate fundraising for Cambodia was paid to the Charity.
Finally I would like to thank you all for your continued support of the Parish via the first collections. However, I have to report that for the first time since I have been the Chairman of the Finance Committee (I think that must be at least 15 years now) the first collections for the year were less than for the previous year. I know times are difficult but if those of use who can do so increase our first collection donations by 10% this would be very helpful. The decline in first collections is not an immediate problem but consistent with the Finance Committee’s strategy of planning ahead it is important that the level of first collection donations should at least keep pace with inflation.
Fr. SEAN CONNOLLY – EPISCOPAL VICAR FOR THE NEW EVANGELISATION
Fr. Sean gave a very inspiring talk on “New Evangelisation” and expanded his theme using the following slides:
- A Sower Went Out to Sow – Some Seed fell on the path and the birds came and ate it up
Some seed fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once but because the soil was not deep the sun came and scorched it and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it. Some seed fell on rich soil and produced a harvest
- From Sherry Weddell
A gardener cannot make a seed germinate and grow by the/she can create the conditions which make this more likely
Similarly, we cannot make people suddenly become practising Christians, but we can ‘intentionally and intelligently work to create an environment that is conducive to the growth of personal faith and discipleship
- Catholicism in England and Wales 2012
849,300 Catholics attending Mass weekly
21% of the population
- Living in the Land of ‘None” 2013
50.5% of UK adults claim ‘no religion’
4.8% ‘other Christian’
1.8% ‘Christian – no denomination’ (quadrupled since 1983)
7.7% belong to non-Christian faiths
- The Francis Effect
25% of Britons say that Pope Francis has improved their view of the Catholic Church
- Aim of New Evangelisation?
Increase Mass attendance?
Increase the weekly collection?
Convert people to Christianity? (Proselytise)
Lead people to a personal relationship with Jesus
- From Sherry Weddell: Forming Intentional Disciples
Or like the average parishioner a Seeker
- Thresholds of Conversion
Spiritual Curiosity – Where most parishioners will be
- Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
How often, outside of prayer or liturgy do we hear each other talking about Jesus?
Use of Jesus’ name rather than titles, such as Our Lord?
Do we share freely with one another about our prayer lives?
Are we embarrassed or threatened or made to feel insecure with language of a personal relationship with Jesus?
Does it sound too evangelical?
- From Matthew Kelly – Four Signs of Dynamic Catholics
Fr Sean concluded by saying that he felt that a number of the initiatives introduced over the last few years in the Parish demonstrated that we were not merely standing still but were trying to develop as a community and that theses initiatives were in the mould of the Church’s New Evangelisation theme.