Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting 23rd January 2024
Fr Colm, John Thompson, Tom Hoban, Tony Power, Mike McNally, Maria Melia, Alejandro
Gonzalez, Mary Harrison, Tom Harrison, Cynthia Dunn, Graham Donnachie, Inivted John
Reilly O’Donnell, Margaret Wallace.
1. Fr Colm opened the meeting with a prayer.
2. Apologies –Joanna Pallister, Leanne Heseltine, Joe Hughes, Emma Turnbull, Kathleen
3. Minutes of the meeting 10th October 2023 accepted.
4. Parish Update – Fr commented on his thoughts regarding the current position of the Parish.
Parish numbers remained steady although in recent weeks there appears to be an increase
in attendance. The Parish continues to provide a broad range of activities and it was agreed
that many of these activities extended outwards to the wider Durham community. This was
considered a positive step forward in raising the profile of the Parish of the Durham Martyrs
and potentially lead to stronger links being formed. He thanked the work of parishioners
who help with these activities but suggested more volunteers were needed. Fr referred to a
recent meeting held to consider how the Parish can develop and move forward, an update is
included in a separate item under AONB presented by John Reilly O’Donnell. Fr provided an
update regarding the buildings and the progress on developments relating to St Bede’s
Presbytery and the surrounding land, further comments can be found under item 5 and 6. Fr
informed the Council that there would be an increase in the occasions of the international
meal held at St Joseph’s.
5. Finance feedback – An updated finance report was provided; all collections are up year on
year. Expenditure both committed and anticipated included window replacements in St
Joseph’s presbytery, new windows and interior decorating of St. Joseph’s church,
replacement of light fittings and roof repairs St Godric’s along with removal of Knotweed.
Increased energy costs and upkeep of buildings and groundwork. The introduction of the
fourth way of giving, that is via the use of a card reader is ongoing and it is hoped it will be
in place by the end of February 2024, an update will be included in the Parish weekly
bulletin, what appeared to be a relatively straightforward implementation has become a bit
of a challenge. 70% of collection money comes from direct given and is greatly appreciated.
Thanks to the finance committee for their work in ensuring the Parish of the Durham
Martyrs can meet the many financial costs currently facing the Parish. St Bede’s presbytery
has been vacated by CAFOD and progress is underway to consider how the buildings and
land can be used to support the local community.
6. Building Committee feedback – the committee reported that the replacement windows for
St Joseph’s presbytery is now complete. The replacement of the stolen copper roofing is
reaching completion. Groundworks at St Joseph’s complete and a tree survey is scheduled
to assess the safety of the Cypress trees in the car park. Lighting has been updated in
St.Godric’s and this has led to an improvement in the overall lighting. Issues with a leaking
roof continues. Ground maintenance is ongoing at St Godric’s with the treatment and
removal of knotweed required. CAFOD have vacated St Bede’s and discussion regarding
future use in progress.
7. Dates of Parish Council meetings 2024/25
16th April 2024 7pm St Joseph’s.
9th July 2024 7pm St Joseph’s AGM followed by Council meeting.
15th October 2024 7pm St Joseph’s.
14th January 2025 7pm St Joseph’s.
o Parish Services – 11.00 Sunday mass St Joseph’s will move to a 10.30 start, Fr Colm is
considering appropriate days and timings of the Sacraments of Baptism and
o Update of activities from Alejandro regarding international events identified
increased regularity of international meals and other activities planned for the
forthcoming year, it was agreed that the last events had proved very successful.
o A request was made for updated information regarding the Parish Handbook, several
update had been received by Margaret Wallace for inclusion in the new edition.
o John Reilly O’Donnell presented notes from the recent Development meeting to
consider how the Parish can develop and continue to grow. The group identified
both short and long term objectives and were clear that these could not be achieved
without carfeul though and effort. Several themes were identified including the need
to integrate further with the international community and it was agreed that more
effort was needed to encourage individuals to take up roles in the various ministries.
This encouragement should come from the different groups to approach individuals
and invite them to take up a role within a chosen ministry. A second theme was the
need to actively engage with the youth of the parish, it was felt that the youth were
not inspired despite the work and effort from a key youth worker. This resulted in a
lengthy discussion as how we as a Parish can reengage with the youth and
encourage them to become more active in the life of the Parish and generate new
ideas of what would encourage them to make that step froward. A further theme
was how can the Parish appeal to a wider group of parishioners and engage in the
many activities that are ongoing in the Parish, there is a need to consider succession
planning particularly regarding the function and upkeep of the Parish. Linked closely
to this theme is how the Parish can support parishioners who are facing challenges
including social, health, and wellbeing. It was acknowledged that there are groups
available who can and do offer and provide help to individual not just within the
Parish but also the wider community. Fr John O’Brien has been involved in one of the
meetings and it is hoped he will join the group at the next meeting to consider how
the group can move forward and turn the ideas and suggestions into action points.
The Parish of the Durham Martyrs is actively involved in the wider Durham
community including weekly lunches, the memory café, the support fund and
Sanctuary 21. The next phase will be to begin to implement short term goals and
gain wider parish and community involvement. Details of the next meeting will be
circulated via the Parish bulletin; members of this group are currently involved in
planning the next meeting.
o Presentation of the Bereavement group provided by Margaret Wallace. Margaret
provided a profile of the group which was established in 2007. There are a small
number of volunteers, but their input is far reaching not only within the Parish of the
Durham Martyrs but extending to a wider community. Margaret provided an insight
into the experience e members of the group shared and how that experience
enabled the bereaved to address some of the issues facing them following a personal
bereavement. The group have links to the Diocesan Bereavement Service, the
Emmaus Listening Service and with several Durham Martyrs Parish groups. Annual
remembrances take place and include a Memorial Sunday, Christmas, Easter, and a
celebration Mass of the Lives of Loved Ones. The group appreciate the support from
Fr Colm and the Parish in enabling them to provide such an important service.
o Report from Joe Hughes – Support fund has received one application in the last nine
months. Use of St Godric’s church included two successful concerts by the University
Chamber Choir and one by the Durham Singers. There is potentially two further
enquiries being considered.
The next PPC meeting will be on 16th April 2024 7pm St Joseph’s.