Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting 10th October 2023
Fr Colm, Joe Hughes, John Thompson, Tom Hoban, Kathleen Murray, Tony Power, Mike McNally Maria Melia, Emma Turnbull, Alejandro Gonzalez
1. Fr Colm opened the meeting with a prayer.
2. Apologies – Mary Harrison, Tom Harrison, Joanna Pallister, Leanne Heseltine, Cynthia Dunn
3. Parish Update – Fr Colm referred to Bishop Stephen’s recent letter read out during mass over the weekend. Fr Colm commented on one issue raised, that of Church buildings and the need for consideration in their viability and use. Fr commented on the broad activities within the Parish and the work the Parish is involved in. He thanked the support of parishioners who help with activities such as Ministry work and community work such as the lunch club and Memory Café, these are positive aspects of a considerate and diverse Parish. Fr referred to comments he had received from sources within the Parish as to what steps the Parish was taking in rebuilding the Parish community. There was a feeling that the challenges facing the Parish needed to be addressed such as church attendance, the loss of young families, engaging the youth to become active members of the Parish and rebuilding links with the schools of the Parish. It is necessary to consider In which direction the Parish is moving towards and how the Parish can move forward and meet the needs of an ever-changing society. This generated a positive discussion, and it was agreed that a core group of should be established to take this forward. Fr Colm would be arranging an open evening to invite Fr John O’Brien to facilitate the discussion.
Action – Core group to be identified.
The current situation facing St Leonard’s school were considered and it was agreed that the staff and pupils of St Leonard’s were coping incredibly well considering the challenges they were facing. Alternative arrangements have been implemented including the use of Ushaw College and both churches in accommodating some of the teaching and events. It is anticipated work will commence in 2024 on the rebuild and will be completed in 2026, in the meantime alternative accommodation in portacabins will be available.
It is anticipated the Parish will enjoy the experience of our wider international community in the form of international meals and the celebrations of International Feast days. The start of these celebrations will take place in December celebrating the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Action – Alejandro
Journey in Faith will recommence and will be led by Joanna Pallister, the sessions are open to individuals who may be considereing entering the church, or for those who wish to know more about their Catholic Faith, external speakers will provide a springboard for discussion during the sessions.
Fr gave an update on the use of St Bede’s presbytery; he informed the Council that CAFOD would be vacating the premises. This offers an opportunity for some ideas to be considered in how the Presbytery can be used to the advantage of the Parish and community.
4. Finance feedback – a written report was submitted to the Council. Year of end accounts have been submitted to the Diocese and undergoing audit. Gift Aid update highlighted an increase in interest with several parishioners signing up, thanks to Esther Robson for her presentation. Expenditure highlighted the impact on Parish finances in areas such as replacement windows in St Joseph’s church and presbytery, decorating of St Joseph’ along with replacement lighting St Godric’s and the increase in energy bills. Grounds maintenance was addressed, and this has incurred extra cost due to work which has been identified in the Buildings and H&S report. The fourth way of Giving is ongoing A credit/debit card payment system as an additional method of financially contributing to the Parish will be introduced on Saturday 15th July. A simple instruction guide will help with the use of the machine.
5. Building Committee feedback – a written report was submitted by the Buildings’ committee, ongoing maintenance continues across the Parish. Issues with St Godric’s roof continue, with a further leak appearing in the storage cupboard. Estimates for replacement from Halogen to LED have been submitted. Ground maintenance is ongoing at St Godric’s with the necessary removal of Japanese Knotweed. Currently awaiting copper roof replacement at St Joseph’s church, a decision regarding the replacement of windows in St Joseph’s continues and replacement windows for the presbytery has been agreed. Drainage problems around St Joseph’s has now been rectified. Diocesan property department have carried out a survey to determine the use of RAAC in the construction of the church. Ground maintenance is continuous across the Parish of the Durham Martyrs including St Bede’s presbytery, St Godric’s Church, St Joseph’s church. Discussions are taking place regarding work on St Bede’s Cemetery specifically regarding the repair of the Lychgate. CAFOD will be vacating St Bede’s presbytery with a possible view to change in usage. Health and safety inspections are complete with exception of a fire drill across both Churches, a date will be announced soon. Food hygiene and safety were rated top, well done to all those involved.
6. It was suggested that the time of 11.00 Mass at St Joseph’s change to 10.30, a discussion followed, and a consensus reached to change the Mass time, however, if there was a change in circumstances regarding the presence of the Franciscans, Mass times would be reconsidered. Action Fr Colm. It was noted that due to a change in circumstances regarding St Leonard’s School, alternative arrangements for the Christmas mass would be necessary.
7. A report from the support fund was provided, funds remain available, for those in need.
o Parish welcoming update was provided, a discussion followed and highlighted several issues regarding the formality of the role of the welcomer. The discussion referred to the approaches used in both St Godric’s and St Joseph’s and recognised that the layout of the entrance and Narthex differed considerably, which, influenced the approach used by the welcomers. The greeting area in St Godric’s is restricted in size and almost lends itself to a brief but warm welcome without being too invasive. St Joseph’s offers a much larger entrance and Narthex allowing more welcomers to be present, however, this does give a feeling of a more formal approach to the welcome. The wearing of name badges was seen by some as too formal, yet provides parishioners, especially those new or visiting the Parish with a named individual. The concept of the welcomer has been present for some time and it was felt that at this moment further discussion is required as to the function and role of the welcomer. It was noted that a meeting of those involved in St Godric’s church will meet on Sunday 22nd October.
Fr Colm will meet with Graham to discuss arrangements for St Joseph’s.
o Update of activities from Alejandro regarding international celebrations included arrangements for an international lunch, a celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Other events are to be considered for the future.
The next PPC meeting will be on 23rd January 2024 7pm St Joseph’s.