The forum was held at St John’s Mass Centre, Halton.
The meeting was opened at 8.00pm by the Forum Chairman Richard Strudwick who led those in attendance in praying the Diocesan Prayer. Over 50 parishioners were present.
In view the main topic to be discussed Fr Philip chaired the meeting.
Following the announcement in the Bishops letter on the 6th June about the effect of the Leeds parishes’ reorganisation the meeting was to discuss how this will affect our parish along with the other 2 parish that will join us the form a new parish.
Fr Philip confirmed the 3 churches will keep their existing names but the Parish consisting of the 3 churches will be known as Blessed John Henry Newman Parish.
Following the letter on the 6th June Fr Philip called a meeting of the Pastoral Planning Group. This group assists Fr Philip with issues in the parish and reports back to the Forum. This is not a decision making group.
Key points came from this meeting which need to be discussed at the forum:
- Corpus Christi, St Gregory and St Theresa’s unite to form a New Parish.
- The closure of St John’s as a Mass Centre. Also the closure of Mass centre in Barwick.
- The 3 parishes to coordinate the reduction of existing 11 Masses.
What do we have to address now?
Fr Philip received a letter from a parishioner who was unable to attend the meeting which contained 2 points:
- Parish Sisters / Deacon to be the face of the church.
- Laity in the new parish – What can we do spiritually & practically to effect the change?
Fr Philip advised the group that no decision had been made by the Bishop as to who would be the Parish Priest or assistant Priest of the newly formed Parish.
All 3 Parishes have to come together as equals.
St Theresa’s Church will be the Parish church while Corpus Christ & St Gregory’s will become chapels of ease.
Fr Philip has a meeting arranged with Fr Cassidy of Corpus Christi & Fr Kelly of St Gregory’s on the 15th July to discuss the Mass times and the reduction of Masses. 3 representatives from each parish will also be asked to attend. It is not yet known exactly when the changes will come into force. It was requested that this meeting could consider the following:
- Public transport times to fit around service times.
- Not all churches to have Masses at the same time.
- Afternoon or evening Mass.
Fr Philip also highlighted this does not just effect the Sunday Masses but also the services which all 3 churches have during the weekdays.
A question was asked if the 3 churches could take the congregation from St John’s. Fr Philip told us that there are over 1,000 seats available across the 3 churches at any one time with an average weekly Mass attendance of 1,300.
This could be sufficient for 5 or 6 Masses instead of the current 11 Masses.
The Bishop has said that St John’s will close this summer. This also means that no other form of Catholic worship of any kind can take place at St Johns. Fr Philip’s personal preference would be not to close until Mass changes happen so that people do not have to change twice. But this is not guaranteed. No date has been given yet for the cancellation of the Masses in Barwick. It is hoped we could have the changes in place by mid September.
Closure of St John’s as a Mass Centre - this will happen this summer.
What are the implications now & in the future:
- Future of the building.
will mean the current parishioners will need to attend any of the 3 churches which will form the new parish. It will also be necessary for some to receive communion in their homes.
Research has started into the transport
- Car sharing: Many are willing to give lifts but people do not want to beholden either to offering lift or taking a lift. They prefer to be independent.
- Bus times: Bus times do not fit in with the current Mass times.
- Car parking at St Theresa’s. It was said it was not adequate for our needs. There is the back car park which can be opened. Fr Philip also mentioned re contacting the Council about the spare land between the parish centre and the new flats. This would give more room and also give access to the back car park.
- Cross Gates Centre car park: It was suggested we may approach them for assistance.
Could the parish take responsibility for making the Cubs/Scouts mini bus road worthy?
The question was asked how long can the groups that currently use St John’s continue to use the hall. The future of the building is not yet known.
This is something which the parish has to decide at a later date.
Fr Philip said, Bingo, Weight Watchers & the Luncheon Club could continue until Christmas. We may know more before then.
It was suggested the hall would be a good place for the young people. But it was said that we have enough room at St Theresa’s where they currently meet so why change things and leave St Theresa’s empty.
It was advised we should look at the rates on the building. If it no longer a Mass centre this could mean we will be classed as a commercial building. Fr Philip is to look into this.
It was talked about merging the 3 churches finances into 1. Legally this can’t happen until we become one parish.
Concern was raised about the young people and others who actively take part in the Mass at St John’s like the Servers, Readers, Eucharistic Ministers, Welcome/Door people and Sacristy duties. It was said all would be welcomed with open arms at any of the churches especially St Theresa’s.
Fr Philip advised us that all the ministries of Serving, Reading, Eucharistic Ministers, Welcome/Door people and Sacristy duties would be abolished when we become one parish and new rotas would be formed.
For this purpose 3 sub committees are to be formed to discuss the following:
Names were taken at the end of the meeting.
Overall there are many things to look at over the coming months that the other 2 parishes also have. It was suggested that we have a joint meeting to discuss the way forward.
Parish Magazine – Forum meeting – Schools – Youth worker -
This is a challenge for all in the 3 parishes and we should open our minds & hearts to let the Holy Spirit guide and help us. It’s an opportunity for everyone to play their part and get involved in new things and meet new people.
In view of the reorganisation it was put to the meeting that the Parish Mission scheduled for March 2011 should be delayed for at least 6moths if not 12 months. This would be a very useful event to involve and bring together all 3 churches in the new parish of Blessed John Henry Newman. Fr Philip is to contact The Sion Catholic Community as soon as possible.
The meeting finished at 9.40am with the Lord’s Prayer.
Date of next meeting to be announced later.