The Catholic Parish of
Saint John Henry Newman

 Covering most of East Leeds

Parish Pastoral Council ~ Annual General Meeting

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Parish Pastoral Council
Annual General Meeting
16th September 2015

Meeting was chaired by Sheelagh Pickles (The Chair).
The meeting started with the Proclaim 15 Prayer.

Welcome and Summary on the last 12 months - Fr. Paul

  • Arrival of Fr. Grebreyesus and Fr. Emmanuel. Both are developing their own missions and they visit the schools and housebound.
  • Sr. Nora & Deacon Sean also visit the housebound.
  • Fr. Emmanuel has passed his driving test which will enable him to get around the parish more freely.
  • New Bishop appointed which will bring stability to the clergy.

What keeps Fr. Paul awake at night?

Our ageing population & attendance at Mass
Holding 3 churches together
Maintenance of all our properties
Parish Finance
Number of funerals
Housebound & Sick
Faith of our young families
Then he counts his blessings - at the PPC Reflections evening in June the members prayed for all the various groups in the parish. Fr. Paul read out over 70 active groups. He said we should rejoice on what is going on in the parish. Many other parishes would be envious of what we have. New in 2014/2015 are the Family Group, Leeds Citizens and Proclaim 15

Youth & Family Ministry Update: Patrick Bradley

  • The group formed in September 2014. The reason for getting together was to look at the work of the previous Youth Worker and how we as a parish could self drive this work.
  • Those involved were the parishioners who are involved with children’s groups.
  • The aim is to take small steps from baby to adulthood. Those attending are taking small ideas and moving forward. They are all people interested in young people.
  • The T.O.R.CH. group started with 3 or 4 young people attending and today there was 13.
  • In 2014 the group focus on the First Holy Communion children and there was a special evening of T.O.R.C.H. to which over 50 children attended.
  • A programme of children’s Masses across our 3 churches started. A letter from Fr. Paul was sent to all reception school children inviting them to a special Mass which again was well received and attended.

Children’s Liturgy - The groups from each of our churches are coming together to share ideas.

First Holy Communion - Prior to the FHC‘s in 2014 all the homes of the children were visited by a team from the parish. The teams included the clergy and parishioners. Some families opted out of having a visit. All the children (even those not visited) received a Mass book and the family a prayer card. This caused a buzz at school among the children. Consideration is to be given to extending the visiting to the Baptism families and the Confirmation candidates’ families.

Programme of activities - A meeting is planned to look at the plan for 2015/2016.

The group are looking at reaching out to the uniformed groups.

Some young people of the 17/18 age group have come to the meetings and there is need to build on this.

Patrick was asked by Keiron Preston, of the Finance team, if a costing has been considered. No costs are yet known but any cost would come from the Youth Fund.

Proclaim 15 - Sheelagh Pickles

  • Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, has called in 2015 a significant evangelisation initiative called Proclaim 15. Sheelagh Pickles & Angela DesRosiers that attended the National Catholic Evangelisation Conference on the 11 July.
  • Bishops of England and Wales acknowledge the work already going on in our parishes.
  • Following the conference Sheelagh and Angela have arranged 3 faith-sharing sessions - each session being held twice weekly - one evening and one afternoon. The first week had an attendance of 36 people across both sessions.
  • The next meeting for those who attended the conference is on 17th September. Following this there will be a Diocesan meeting which we are hosting in the Newman Centre on 15th October.
  • For Home Mission Sunday (20th September) there is a Bishops' letter, from the Bishops of England and Wales, encouraging people to go out and evangelise.
  • JIF has a small team of volunteers but needs more to develop the people after they have been received into the church at Easter.

Property - Mike England

Mike gave a brief update on what repairs have been done during the last financial year. A total of £40k was spent across all our properties. This was spent on tarmac for the carpark at the Newman Centre, new windows at the presbytery at St. Gregory’s, repairs to Corpus Christi’s leaking church roof, redecorating the damaged area and electrical reports.

Electrical work has been completed at both premises at St. Theresa’s and has started at St. Gregory’s presbytery. To enable the parish to undertake all the necessary electrical work we have drawn down £65k from our central reserve account at the Diocese.

Over the last few quarters we have received very large water bills of double the usual amount. Investigation is ongoing to isolate the cause and also measures to reduce the amount of water we use.

The proposed car park extension to the spare land next to the centre is still ongoing. Last year Leeds City Council made us an offer which was not feasible or cost effective.

Since April this year we have repaired the 3 door closures at Corpus Christi church, placed razor wire on the flat roof at St. Gregory’s to prevent the young people climbing onto the roof and causing problems and concern.

There is still a long list of ongoing work that is needed to be done across the whole of the parish before they become urgent.

Safeguarding - Fr. Paul

In the parish we now have over 180 parishioners who hold a DBS (Data Barring Services) certificate.

We have recently held a Safeguarding Awareness session with another one planned for the 14th October. Everyone who holds a certificate is asked to attend. The first meeting was poorly attended. The meeting told us how to look for signs of abuse, both on our premises and in homes when we visit. We now need to look at ways we as a parish can look at ways to prevent abuse.

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility but if anyone suspects anything they should contact one of the 5 Parish Safeguarding Representatives, not the Parish Priest.

The Priests of the parish will be attending a Day of Recollection in February 2016 and the subject is “Safeguarding as a Ministry”.

Leeds Citizens - Deacon Sean Quigley

Deacon Sean was approached by Mgr. John Wilson (then Diocesan Administrator) 2 1⁄2 years ago, to take a leading role in promoting the “Common Good in Leeds - Leeds Citizens”. This is made up of all faiths across Leeds together with Trade Unions, large businesses and schools. Leeds Citizens is a part of Citizens UK.

The group works with people who are concerned about the Common Good of people and firstly hold a listening campaign.

The Assembly chose 3 priorities to take forward; they are - Poverty & Debt - Transport -
Care for People with Mental Health issues.

Our parish, along with 2 others in the Diocese, are members and we are paying a subscription for this year. The subscriptions help to pay for an organiser and allow Leeds Citizens to be financially independent.

A Citizens meeting is arranged for 20th September at 11.45am in the Newman Centre.


Peter Freeman presented a report on the website.
Our website was first set up in 1999 and we now have over 600 pages on the site. Every month there are over 900 visitors to the site. The bulletin and Mass times are on the site. Since June of this year there is also a PDF copy of the current bulletin.

Thanks to Hoa Diep & Sheelagh Pickles were extended, as they had helped to bring the site up to date and also added many links to other sites.

Bringing the parish up to date with social media we now have a Facebook site. It is hoped the young people will visit this. There is security in place to control items put onto Facebook.

John Hutchinson (Head teacher of St. Theresa’s Primary School) said he will put a link from the school website to the parish site.

Thanks were extended by the Chair to Jane & Peter Freeman for their work on the site.

Financial Report - Keiron Preston Chair of the Finance Committee

The Finance Committee meets about 6 times a year. The Financial Report for April 2015 was handed out to all present and will be available in all our churches from the weekend 19th/20th September.

Keiron talked through the main points of the Income and Expenditure of the parish for the last financial year and pointed out that the annual income from our offertory collection fell by 1% against a fall of 2.7% overall. The Committee feel it is not the time to stand up and ask people to consider increasing their collection in the current climate and in view of the parish current account balance.

BUT he did point out that for a third year running we have not met our contribution to the Diocese by £35k for year ending 2015. This shortfall has been taken from the central reserve account with the Diocese. With the £35k shortfall and the £65k towards the electrical work we cannot continue to make these withdrawals.

It was mentioned that we have a lot of second collections but many of these are laid down by the Diocese. It was also asked if when we have a second collection “did the offertory collection suffer?”. This is not the case.

The 2015 Financial Report will be posted on the website.

Connecting Crossgates - Karen Gray

Karen asked if she could come to the AGM and explain  a little of the work of Connecting Crossgates.

Karen is a working Mum of 3 with a legal professional background. She has worked within the community and churches for over 10 years in the Crossgates area. Karen started the reading sessions, for children with difficulty in reading, at John Smeaton School and this increased over the last few years to over 130 children who are helped each week. There are now 24 volunteers including several from the parish.

Karen has also been involved with the Cielo Café in the shopping centre where there are over 40 volunteers including some from St. Theresa’s. People can have a coffee and chat with the volunteers. Karen is also working on the former Godson's office to open a drop in place and other projects which involve many for the young people. It is also hoped to have a Bereavement group for people to call in for a chat.

Karen hopes to connect the Community of Faith within the Leeds 15 area and get them working together and helping each other.


Tony Pickles spoke on the Migrant Crisis.

Tony gave a heartfelt talk on the current crisis across Europe and asked what we as a parish could do to help.
  1. He stressed that we should use the accurate terms when talking about people.
  2. He asked if the parish could have a conversation to see what we as a parish could do.

Pope Francis called upon religious communities in Europe to offer shelter to migrant families and to host a family.

There are many websites which people can use to help and one of the main ones is

There is a public meeting with Richard Burgon MP for Leeds East, on Friday 9th October at 5.30pm in the David Young Academy. Everyone is encouraged to attend. Following the talk, John Hutchinson and Karen Gray said they would be willing to help to arrange a collection of clothing, toiletries, blankets and sleeping bags.

Tony is arranging to meet John Hutchinson in St. Theresa’s School to take this further.

It was suggested that the weekend of 10 th & 11th October might be used to have a collection across all the Leeds 15 area at churches and schools. Karen Gray is hoping to coordinate this and to offer premises to temporarily store and distribute the items.

John Hutchinson Head Teacher St. Theresa’s Primary School

John was overwhelmed at hearing everything that is happening across our parish. His main aim for attending the meeting was to try to bring the school and church together more. He will speak with Corpus Christi Primary School and Corpus Christi College to see if he can get a representative to each of our PPC meetings. This will help with the school - church link. John is also very keen to get the school involved with the Migrant Crisis. The school is currently linked with the SVP and starting the Minnie Vinnies.

Fr. Emmanuel

Father Emmanuel has just completed his first year in this country and our Parish. He has been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement he has received from all. He thanks everyone for their help.

Fr. Paul closed the meeting at 9.05pm with a prayer.

Published Tue 10th Nov 2015 18:13:12
Last Modified on Tue 10th Nov 2015 21:00:47

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