PARISH OF THE SACRED HEART – ANNUAL PARISH MEETING MONDAY 25 JULY 2022 The Annual Parish Meeting was held in the Parish Hall of Sacred Heart, North Walsham and was attended by approximately 50 parishioners. Fr James opened the evening with Grace and then all enjoyed a delicious meal provided by parishioners from St John of the Cross; Aylsham and the Sacred Heart; North Walsham.
RICHARD McGREEVY – CHAIR OF THE PARISH PASTORAL COUNCIL
The last time that I stood here at the AGM was in May 2019. Little did we know that we would not meet in these circumstances again until three years had elapsed.
I reported on the previous year’s activities and we looked forward to our garden party in June 2019, and what a pleasant occasion it was. The sun shone and a good crowd enjoyed an afternoon of fellowship and tea and cakes.
The rest of that year passed without undue excitement and the usual issues have surfaced in the subsequent years. We will always have a leaking roof, car parking issues and tree problems.
In August all three churches were inspected by Ellis Whittam, a firm appointed by the Diocese to ensure that we are compliant with all aspects of health and safety. Long and detailed reports were produced for all three locations and we have now complied with the vast number of issues raised by them. In many cases it was to formalise risk assessments for various aspects of our parish activities.
One that is still outstanding is to have three teams of trained fire marshals. The training session is this coming Wednesday (27July) and we are still short of volunteers, so please come if you think you can help.
Live Simply continued to flourish in the parish and each church was awarded a plaque to recognise their achievement.
As 2019 concluded we took part in a major new initiative ‘The Year of the Word’ and various activities were ongoing to get us all to understand the Bible better. However we had only just started when BANG! Lockdown on March 16th, 2020 arrived. Everything ceased.
We had to watch Mass on-line. New web sites sprang up and we had our own Facebook page. This continued until June when we were allowed to open our churches for private prayer but with very tight regulations.
By July we could have Mass again but still with significant restrictions: advance booking only, low maximum numbers, rigorous cleaning between services and many more. Gradually the rules have been relaxed but we are still not back to normal – number attending are still well below pre-Covid levels.
During this troubled time we have lost many of our parishioners including our dear friend Deacon Ron. They will all be missed but we can be sure that they are here with us this evening in spirit.
Many of our groups and societies are back meeting regularly again: Bible studies, social groups, SVP, the Catenians to mention just a few.
A new Welcome Pack has been produced and Parish Directory is being updated as we strive to return to normal.
Major initiatives have also arrived: The Quinquennial Property Review gave us fairly clean bill of health and most comments were of a non-urgent or inexpensive nature.
Time, Talent and Treasure gave us the opportunity to assess our involvement in the Church and do more if possible.
The Synodal Pathway gave every one of us the chance to comment ‘up the line’ about how we felt that the Church was being run from the top down.
Finally we arrived at the beginning of this month and the tumultuous news that we are to get a new Parish Priest as Father James had decided to take retirement. Father Peter will have big boots to fill. We wish to thank Father James for all that he has done for us over the years. You will be missed, Father.
Please raise your glasses and toast Fr James.
Thank you. Enjoy the rest of the evening including our special surprise event.
KEN WATKINS – PARISH TREASURER
The finance report, based on the Income and Expenditure Statement for 2021, was presented by Ken Watkins, the Parish treasurer. He also updated the meeting on noteworthy items of income and expenditure in the Parish’s bank account in the first half of 2022.
The excess of income over expenditure in 2021 was £18,739 and the following are key points that were made at the meeting.
The total of first collections in 2021 was almost £21,400 and the projected figure in the budget was £24,100. The difference of £2,700 was put down to the effects of lockdown and other restrictions in 2020, and to not knowing to what extent they would continue in 2021. The first collection total for the first 6 months of 2022 was £13,051. This seems to support the impression that Mass attendance is getting back to pre-COVID levels.
The standing order total for 2021 was £26,805, when the budgeted figure was £23,979. The assumption is that some parishioners took out standing orders because they wanted to continue giving but did not feel safe enough to attend Mass and provide their usual plate or gift aid contribution.
The total gift aid received was £6,536. Donating through gift aid means that charities can claim an extra 25% for every pound given. Next year the gift aid rebate should be greater as the £6,536 was calculated for the tax year 2020-21, when income was COVID affected.
Hall hire in normal years produces an income of £8-9,000 for the Parish. However, significantly less than half that amount was received in 2021 because the hall was closed for a large part of the year.
Payments of £3,487 have been received in the first half of 2022. This is a little lower than pre-COVID levels, but the hall was closed from time to time to enable water leak repairs to be carried out.
Alive in Faith has been a Diocesan initiative which has raised funds to provide support, both to clergy in formation and retirement, and to those on the margins through social outreach. Of the money donated by parishioners 25% is returned to support parish projects. The current balance is £13,071 and the Parish Pastoral Council may wish to consider the best use of this money.
Grants totalling £17,823 were received from North Norfolk District Council in 2021. These related to the closure of the hall because of COVID and were fixed amounts based on the hall’s business rate assessment. In 2022 an Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant was applied for and £2,667 was received. This is expected to be the final COVID related payment from the Council.
The largest items of expenditure in 2021 were £16,529 on Diocesan levies (general and priests’ training, schools, clergy pension and National Catholic Fund), £10,125 on utilities (this is only going to increase substantially) and £8,184 for maintaining church grounds (which are extensive and include a lot of trees).
On 14th November 2021 a pipe under the hall kitchen floor sprang a leak, and the water spread to underneath the wooden floor in the hall and the carpet in the meeting room. An insurance claim was submitted to Catholic National Mutual and they have accepted policy liability. As at 30th June they have met virtually all expenses, including loss of hall hire income.
So far in 2022 the major items of expenditure appearing in the Parish bank account have been £2,400 for tree surgery at the Sacred Heart, £1,613 for the repair of 2 mowers, £1,015 to repair a heater in the hall and £876 for a new PC and monitor for the office.
1 January to 31 December 2021
Sacred Heart Parish
Income & Expenditure Statement
|Gift Aid Tax
|Mass Stipends/Stole Fees
|(Included in Parish)
|Alive in Faith
|Admin – Staff
|Heat, Light & Water
|Council Tax & Rates
|Alive in Faith
OPENING BALANCE…… £39,056.59 CLOSING BALANCE……..£57,795.67
The Parish’s bank account in the first half of 2022
1. The offertory collection for January to June was £13,051. This projects to £26,102 for the year, an increase of £4,702 over 2021. This seems to support the impression that Mass attendance is getting back to pre-COVID levels.
2. The standing order total for January to June was £13,630. This projects to £27,260 for the year, an increase of £455 over 2021.
3. We received An Omicron hospitality and leisure grant from North Norfolk District Council of £2,667. This is expected to be the final COVID related grant payment from the Council.
4. Hall hire payments of £3,487 have been received so far this year. This is a little lower than we received pre-COVID, but it has to be borne in mind that the hall has had to be closed from time to time to enable water leak repairs to be carried out.
5. The Parish account ended the 6 months’ period with £3,676 more in it than it started the year with.
FR JAMES WALSH – PARISH PRIEST
Fr James thanked Ken for his finance report. He then referred back to the address which he gave in 2019, which seemed to come from a different world.
We have emerged relatively unscathed from the intervening difficult three years. The Parish AGM is an enjoyable time and this is what it should be like, and the redecorated hall is an enjoyable space which we can let out with pride. Three churches make up the Parish – each church has its own character and the Parish is greater than the three. It is with great sadness that I will be taking retirement – this Parish is the easiest of the ones I have cared for and it has been eight years of great happiness. There will be no garden party this year, but my family are visiting and would like you to call in one evening while they are here, for a chat and a drink. My thanks go to all the lovely ladies from St John of the Cross who provided the main course, to those from the Sacred Heart who provided the desserts and to the many people who assisted with setting up, washing up and tidying up.
Provided by Nick Walmsley and Francis Harmer, a musical number in honour of Ian Allen and remembering Fr James’s love of steam trains, to evoke a bygone era of sights, sounds and smells.
“Addlestrop” by Edward Thomas
“Chatanooga Choo-choo” by Glen Miller
“Night Mail” by W H Auden
“Slow Train” by Flanders & Swan
Fr James concluded the AGM with a prayer and blessing.