PARISH OF THE SACRED HEART – ANNUAL PARISH MEETING
MONDAY 22ND MAY 2017
The Annual Parish Meeting was held in the Parish Hall at North Walsham and was well attended by approximately 60 parishioners. Fr. James started the proceedings with grace and then all enjoyed a delicious meal generously provided by parishioners from St. Helen’s Hoveton and Sacred Heart, North Walsham.
ROBERT HARDIE – CHAIR OF PPC
It is of course my continuing privilege and pleasure to be your humble and obedient servant etc. I will run through main topics and events over the last year that the PPC on your behalf have been involved with.
Refugees – If I can start where we stopped at our last annual parish supper last year, when we hosted Gervase Kouloungou. He is our Deanery Representative responsible for refugees. You will remember how he described his traumatic journey from the DRC. We have been trying, without much success to contact Gervase throughout the year for an update on the refugee situation in Norwich. We fortuitously bumped into Gervase a week ago at a Newman lecture in UEA so this report is ‘hot off the press’. Gervase explained in an email “Norfolk County Council has pledged to take 50 Syrian refugees and some of them have already arrived. Unfortunately, NCC has decided to run the project in-house preventing access to other supporting organisations. The last update we had at the last Refugee forum confirmed that 5 families including 18 people have already arrived and are settling in well according to NCC. Another cohort is due to arrive in the next few days. We had a huge response in term of donations and people offering their space to accommodate the refugees but that is quite complex to do so NCC has disregarded that last option. I will update you again as soon as I hear any new information. I seize this opportunity to thank the lovely people of North Walsham parish who had offered gently the availability of their support to the project. God bless you.”
So much for Pope Francis asking every parish in the world to each welcome one family! We had felt rather frustrated throughout the year as despite rounding up bikes, tools and vacuum cleaners for English Plus, and the efforts of John and Adrian, we had had very little feed back from Gervase about the situation of the refugees who have arrived in Norwich so it is good now that we have re-established contact.
We might do better to concentrate on the poor souls in Northern France after the destruction of ‘The Jungle’ in Calais last year. The ‘Jungle’ was the name given to the refugee camp. We have been searching for a local channel to help and there is a Norwich Group, Gateway Vineyard Norwich that is getting into gear. For example a month ago when a fire broke out in the makeshift camp in Dunkirk, which housed 1700 men women and children from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, they filled up 100 food bags and delivered them to an organisation in Cambridge, CAMCrag who transported them to Dunkirk. Maybe we need to turn our heads in this direction now. Let us know what you think and we will decide what to do.
However maybe over the year we have helped a bit. You were all fantastically generous last September, when the three parishes over a couple of Sunday collections raised almost E2000. Clare and I were going on a Footsteps of St Paul pilgrimage and were due to visit the Greek islands of Kos and Rhodes where we were able to give the money directly to the Franciscan Priest Fr. Luke John Gregory who is caring for the refugees who have come across in boats from Turkey. Our fellow Kiwi pilgrims also made a collection and raised a further E2000 so Fr. Luke was delighted with the donation. We also took letters of support for the refugees written by the children of St. Francis School here in Norwich. As I mentioned earlier John Bolger organized the collection of bikes, tools and vacuum cleaners for English Plus, which were greatly appreciated.
Live Simply – The resolve to do what we can for refugees and others less fortunate than ourselves was given a boost last year by our decision to become a “LiveSimply parish” under the direction of CAFOD. As you know it is a 3-pronged campaign like Neptune’s Trident. To Live Simply (more simply), to live Sustainably and in Solidarity with the poor wherever they are, we already had a great track record with helping our twin parish in Cambodia, Svay Sisophon thanks to Katie and Bob, Carol and others. As we’ve mentioned Svay the parish bought Fr. Greg a very nice chalice with was taken out by Bob, Katie and Carol and he sent back his thanks and best wishes to all of us.
The LiveSimply campaign in turn started as a result of the Laudato Si’ talks here last summer. We had 15- 20 at each session, which for fine Sunday summer afternoons was pretty good – the rest don’t know what you missed. But for those who missed the talks, much as I’d like to I can’t repeat them here, but do please read Pope Francis’ encyclical! Suffice it to say here that he hammers home the fact that ecology, the care of this planet, is in crisis and if we keep turning a deaf ear and blind eye then our sister Mother Earth will be uninhabitable! Clare and I went to a meeting 3 weeks ago at the Green Britain Centre in Swaffham run by the Anglican diocese, and the threat was hammered home still further! In my life time animal species on the planet have halved due to chemical pollution in one way and another and loss of the natural habitat. It was also hammered home that the deforestation of the Amazon rain forests, which has been running amuck since the 1970s will be completed in style if the temperature rise on the planet continues as what remains would be converted to savanna! Heaven help us then!
To help us save this beautiful planet CAFOD’s Community Participation Co-Coordinator, Stephen Matthews advised us during the talks that we could do our little bit by becoming a LiveSimply Parish. Lots of bits make a lot! The ocean is made up of drops as St Mother Teresa said.
We actually had an encouraging response which means most of us think similarly and we formed our steering group of 9 enthusiastic ladies and me and Fr. James. Sometimes its a bit hard to know who is saying what when all are in full cry at same time but we make progress. We have had lots of suggestions that have been put in the boxes in the churches and our thanks for that and we are working through them. It’s easy for things to plateau out after the first burst of activity, but please keep the ideas coming. We had a good response again to our questionnaire that attempted to just quantify how many were on board (though it did seem from that that we had failed to get the message over to some!!). Please help. We are doing what Pope Frances has asked us to with an agency that has enormous experience in making a difference in these areas. We did brilliantly with our Reverse Advent Calendars with 72 boxes being filled with appropriate items for the Food Banks at the beginning of Advent. We didn’t do quite so well with our World Gifts, but next Christmas will soon be here – only another 210 shopping days to go – 30 weeks today!
Cool Catholic Kids – There had sadly been a poor attendance at the children’s parish picnic last July and we all felt that we should take the problem to its source – the lack of attendance of families at Mass once First Communion had finished due to so many pressures from the outside world at weekends. So, Cool Catholic Kids was formed. It got going with a tremendously good Christmas Eve service led by the young people. There have been monthly Masses since. They have been wonderful and full of joy – tangible joy that our parish priest picked up – I thought he was about to dance at one of the Masses we attended. There is still time! Thanks so much to Ginny Keane who picked this one up and ran with it. She is getting support from the Diocesan Youth Team. But there is more to it than just the monthly services – the preparation takes a lot of time and energy – writing prayers, choosing and practicing songs, but also the CC Kids Google the Bible, make flowers, cook pancakes (at the appropriate time of year) consume pizzas and biscuits, or even cooked breakfast – they haven’t quite taken over the church flowers or the cleaning rota, but who knows what will come?
Alive in Faith – The first tranches of the Alive in Faith money are about to be rolled on new organ for St John of the Cross, repairs to the St Helen’s Wurlitzer and £1000 for the SVP in North Norfolk.
Golden Jubilee for Fr. James – The next big event of the year is Fr. James’ Golden Jubilee on Saturday 22 July with Mass at noon at The Sacred Heart followed by a buffet lunch FOR EVERYONE in the Parish Hall.
And lastly, thanks to Clare especially, for working so hard as the PPC secretary and thanks to everyone on the PPC and on the of Live Simply steering committee. I would also like to express thanks from us all to those from St Helen’s who prepared the delicious main course and to those from The Sacred Heart for the equally delicious puds.
And REALLY lastly we have a general election coming up in a couple of weeks’ time. How many of you have sent letters or emails to the General Election candidates asking them about Catholic values such as the dignity of and protection of life, availability of Catholic Education for Catholics, protecting EU citizens working here, working against human trafficking, measures against climate change etc. etc. etc.? So please do contact your candidates while there is still time!!!!
I’ll now hand over to Francis to give you the report from the Finance Committee, and following that the entertainment at enormous expense will be the Life of Fr. James Walsh.
FRANCIS HARMER – MEMBER OF THE PARISH FINANCE COMMITTEE
Nick Sutherland the Chair of the Finance Committee was unable to be present so Francis Harmer read his report to the meeting.
Report of the Finance Committee to the Annual Meeting to be held on 22/05/2017
Good evening everybody, sorry not to be with you but I am presently, God willing, on the other side of the Atlantic and Francis has kindly agreed to read this Report on my behalf.
Copies of the Annual Income and Expenditure Statement for 2016 will have been distributed at the meeting. (Attached)
As you will see our expenditure exceeded our income by £7,080.14. However, this, in itself, is not a matter of concern. The largest element of our expenditure is inevitably on the fabric of our churches and other buildings and you will see that in 2016 we spent a total of £16,731.17 on those items. Over the years your committee has created a Property Reserve Fund to ensure that this kind of expenditure can be met, even where the Parish income is less than its total expenditure. In fact, as you will see from the figures, £4,272.19 was transferred to the Property Reserve Fund in 2016 so that net of that payment the deficit was less than £3,000, notwithstanding fairly considerable expenditure on the fabric of the buildings.
During 2017 there will be major expenditure on the redecoration of The Sacred Heart.
A new organ for St John of the Cross is planned with a substantial contribution coming from that community.
At St Helen’s a significant expenditure is proposed in connection with tuning and repairing the organ there.
All of this has been budgeted for. In addition, you will recall that a percentage of the Alive in Faith donations can be returned to the Parish for particular projects, and Father James will be making an application.
I am happy to be able to report to the Parish that as things stand the Parish finances are sound.
However, as you will know from the recent addresses that have been made at each Church, the amount that we are all giving in the first collections (including Standing Orders) has diminished by almost exactly 10% in the four years to 31/12/2016. Allowing for the effects of inflation over the same period, in real terms this means a reduction in the amount of the first collection of 1/6th over that period. This unfortunate fact does not indicate any reduction in the generosity of the Parish and there are obvious reasons why it has occurred. Nonetheless, as a Parish we need to be conscious of this fact and indeed your committee have been monitoring the trend over the last two or three years.
We all need to do what we can and I am sure you will. The steps for each of us to consider are these:
- If you are an income tax payer please make a Gift Aid declaration.
- If the amount you put in the collection has not changed for some years, consider increasing it if you can so that it has kept pace with inflation.
- If you are reviewing your Will, consider leaving a legacy. The Parish website will give you some helpful guidance.
- Consider making your donations by Standing Order.
In conclusion, I would like to thank all my fellow members of the Finance Committee who give up a lot of their time in making sure that the Parish finances are kept in good order and dealing with all our financial requirements professionally.
Fr. JAMES WALSH– PARISH PRIEST
Fr. James then gave us a fascinating talk about his earlier life as a Benedictine Monk in Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight and how he subsequently joined our Diocese of East Anglia as a Parish Priest and became Dean of the Cathedral before joining us in the Parish of the Sacred Heart.
Fr. James concluded the meeting with a prayer and a blessing
SENIOR CITIZENS GROUP – ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2016
The Group continues to meet weekly on Mondays and continues to be jointly co-ordinated by Rebecca Walker and Teresa Butler.
Our aim is to promote the physical, social and spiritual well being of our members. The caring support and encouragement members give each other for group and personal losses, or problems, remains a good example of the friendship they share.
Andrew, Frances and ivy were all welcomed into the group. Some members have been unable to attend due to ill health. We wish them well and hope they will be back with us soon. Thankfully, there are no deaths to report.
The group meets from 11 a.m. There are computer workshops, for some, crafts, coffee/tea, chat and/or chair exercise for others. Lunch is at 1.20 preceded by The Angelus and sung Grace. The weekly raffle is drawn after lunch. (From the raffle proceeds; £30 per month goes to ‘Alive in Faith’ a quarter of the annual amount goes to the East Anglian Air Ambulance and the remaining monies accrued go into funds.) Afternoon entertainment/activity commences from 1.45-2 p.m.’ish until approximately 3 p.m.
As from January 2017, weekly subs will rise from £3 per week to £4.
Mandy continues to coach computer skills for an hour on a Monday morning. We are very grateful for her help.
We thank Fr. James for his continued support to our group. Over the year he has led a day about ‘Growing Old Gracefully’, a day of ‘Lenten Reflection’, a ‘Healing Mass with Anointing’ and a day of ‘Advent Reflection’ All three days were open for all the parish to attend and included a share lunch.
Fr. Tim Bugby (Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham visited in February.
In November Deacon Ron led a very moving Service of Remembrance in the hall for deceased members of the group – a candle was lit for each one as their name was read out.
The group prayed for children, of the parish, who made their First Holy Communion in the summer. Each child was given a small gift from the group.
We had an ‘Audience with John Bolger’ who gave an interesting talk about his work as the Parish Pastoral Assistant and answered questions.
Jane Nicholson talked about her work with FARAH, as a Secular Carmelite, with the poor in Romania.
Sister Monica continues to support the group whenever she can.
Some of the members have been meeting informally in the morning for chair exercises before lunch. Quizzes and games of Hoy and bingo have been played. DVDs have been watched. Sing-a-long/dance sessions have taken place. We also had an indoor sports day!
Visitors and entertainers included Becky Thompson – Wilds Glass, Anna Perrot – BBC Radio Norfolk, Christ North – Victorian Conjuror, Adrian Rudman – The Food Bank, Neil Storey – local historian, North Walsham in Bloom and North Walsham People’s Choir.
Claire and Mark, from the Cockerel came to cook us lunch a couple of times.
The four outings for the year were to Felbrigg Hall, The Cat Pottery 9just down the road), summer lunch at the Bluebell Pub and Christmas Dinner at the Olive Tree.
£75 of the raffle money was donated to the Air Ambulance.
Sheila Hall’s delightful knitted crib scene raised £26.40 for Churches in Need. Our thanks, as always, go to Sheila for her dedication and hard work.
Following on from last year’s Craft Fair, we decided to hold another to boost our own funds. We raised £200. This money went towards our Christmas Lunch outing.
We are a very lively friendly group who will give a warm welcome to anyone who wishes to join us. We are always ‘on the lookout’ for speakers, entertainers or anyone of interest to visit us on a Monday afternoon and welcome any ideas from parishioners and friends.