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Parish council minutes 23/01/24

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.


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