PARISH OF THE SACRED HEART – PARISH PASTORAL COUNCIL
PRESENT: Fr James Walsh, Richard McGreevy (St Helen’s), (Chair), Antonia Martinez (Sacred Heart), Keith Copperwheat (St John of the Cross), John Bolger (Pastoral Assistant), Catherine Watkins (Secretary)
We welcomed Sandra Portas, a visitor from the Diocese who would be addressing the meeting on the item “Faithful Stewards of God’s Gifts – Time, Talents and Treasure”.
1. APOLOGIES: Ginny Keane, Grazyna Skawinska, Elaine Haughton, Peter Rylands, Sue Short, Becky Walker (These members were absent to allow compliance with the Covid-19 “Rule of 6”).
Fr James opened the meeting with a prayer.
2. It was agreed to try and finish the meeting by 8.45pm.
3. MINUTES OF THE MEETING: on 13 October 2020 were agreed and signed.
4. MATTERS ARISING:
c. Welcome Pack. Cathy had designed a consent form, which would be included in the welcome packs. Packs are needed in all 3 churches, Cathy agreed to assemble several packs.
Action – Cathy
8. Christmas. Services all well attended and plans for safe attendance were successful.
5. PARISH PRIEST’S REPORT TO THE PPC:
Fr James had been approached by several people who are interested in learning more about the Catholic church, and he plans to begin a Journey in Faith course in the Autumn. People are returning to Mass in increasing numbers and it will be interesting to see what the attendance numbers are like once all restrictions are lifted. The live streaming facility can tell us how many are following the Mass on-line – last Sunday it was 19.
6. HEALTH & SAFETY UPDATE:
Richard observed that the on-line Ellis Whittam report had a number of items which still needed action. The report needs updating. Fr James informed the meeting that Ken had had to resign as H&S officer for the Sacred Heart as he was unable to perform both this and the role of parish treasurer efficiently. There may also be the need for a new H&S officer at St John of the Cross as the current officer is unwell. Cathy informed the meeting there were several costly items in the parish hall outstanding, including the disabled toilet, which it had been discovered, was inaccessible to wheelchair users. Sandra suggested we look at the possibility of applying for help from the Lottery fund “Awards for All”. Richard added that the training initiatives which had been put on hold because of lockdown, could now be arranged, e.g. Fire extinguisher training. This could be raised at the Forum meetings, which may resume once restrictions are lifted. Most of the H&S requirements at St Helen’s had been completed apart from a safety rail and visibility paint on the steps.
Action – Health & Safety Officers
7. COVID-19 UPDATE:
Richard had produced a risk analysis of the May 2021 changes to restrictions, and various issues were discussed. Incense has resumed at the Sacred Heart and had presented no difficulties. Votive candle stands had returned, offertory processions had resumed. This had been successful and Cathy who was a steward on 23 May at the Sacred Heart reported that 2 people from the same family had processed side-by-side after using hand sanitiser. If two people from different families were to carry out the task, there could be a single file procession, with appropriate distancing observed. Prayers of the Faithful had been re-introduced, meaning two readers at Sunday Masses. This would not cause a problem at the Sacred Heart as there is sufficient space for the readers to sit in the Sanctuary. At St Helen’s and St John of the Cross, the readers sit in the front row. Diocesan guidance has suggested that stewards would no longer be required at weekday Masses, but it was agreed that at least one was required to keep a record of attendees.
8. FAITHFUL STEWARDS OF GOD’S GIFTS – TIME, TALENTS AND TREASURE:
Sandra Portas addressed the meeting. The Bishop had written to all Parish Priests, advising them that Sandra had been appointed to help parishes to further develop Stewardship and Fundraising. The letter from the Diocese had been circulated earlier, so all had the opportunity to read it. Sandra asked if there were any questions: Keith pointed out that 2020-2021 had been atypical and did the parish need more money? Sandra went through the figures from the Diocese which indicate that the general trend for income in the Diocese had been downward for a number of years. She outlined the plan for implementation of the initiative, with materials to be used within the parish prepared in conjunction with the Finance Committee, looking at how the money comes in and how much is Gift-Aided (currently 29% loose plate and therefore is not Gift-Aided). We would look at the numbers of parish volunteers and identify where more are needed.
The programme is to be rolled out over a period of 3 years throughout the Diocese, with the involvement of each parish scheduled to coincide with the ending of their Alive in Faith pledges. In the Sacred Heart Parish, the programme would be run over three consecutive weekends in September. Scripts and tailored material approved by the Parish Priest and Finance Committee would be provided to be read out at Mass:
Week 1. Father gives the talk, newsletter is handed out and volunteers are at the exits after Mass to answer questions.
Week 2. Lay leader to give talk about finances, another newsletter is handed out and volunteers answer questions after Mass.
Week 3. A further presentation, parishioners’ decisions – what roles need to be filled?
The programme has been run in other Dioceses and it has been found to run more successfully if it is led from the Diocese. Between now and September, Sandra would meet with the Finance Committee, three people will be needed from each church – one to deliver the talk during Mass, and two to answer questions after Mass.
The Committee thanked Sandra for her presentation.
9. PARISH PASTORAL COUNCILLORS’ REPORTS:
St John of the Cross. Masses are well attended; stewards have had to turn away people on a couple of occasions. Peter Adamson had asked whether a claim had gone in to Alive in Faith for the new hassocks. Fr James confirmed that it had.
St Helen. Little to report apart from a steady increase in Mass attendance. Wednesdays in particular are nearly at capacity. Fr James was asked if the Bishops would decide to restore the Sunday obligation. This was unlikely to happen until Covid restrictions are lifted.
Sacred Heart. Since the last meeting Mass attendances have steadily increased, particularly on Sundays, and the church has been near capacity on several occasions. The choir now sings at Sunday Mass and the hard-copy four-page newsletter has been reintroduced (take-up will be closely monitored to see whether we need to print as many as we do). Live streaming started in time for the Holy Week services. Naomi’s playing has been wonderful and much appreciated. Antonia expressed concern that the number of readers has dropped, and proposed adding an entry to the next newsletter, asking for volunteers. Chris White had reported that hall bookings were picking up.
10. ANY OTHER BUSINESS:
a. Cathy reported that because the parish hall is now booked on a Tuesday evening, PPC meetings at the Sacred Heart could not be held in the hall. Fr James offered the use of his dining room for these occasions.
b. The idea of a leaflet drop for people new to the area was discussed. Elaine was keen on this and had said that Rebecca Bretherton (at the Home Mission Development office) would be happy to print leaflets. Fr James said it would be better if the local churches could act together, rather than the Catholic church going it alone. North Walsham and Aylsham both have this organised through Churches Together.
c. Election of PPC representatives would be on the Agenda for the next meeting, as would the updating of the parish directory. John said that he would make the link to the Directory more accessible on the parish website.
11. Date of Next Meeting:
Tuesday 7 September 2021, 7.15pm for 7.30 at St John of the Cross, Aylsham.
Fr James concluded the meeting with a prayer.