We cannot do everything,
and there is a sense of liberation
in realising that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning,
a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord's grace
to enter and do the rest.

Archbishop Oscar Romero









Held on 17th November 2019

Thirty nine parishioners met for refreshments, to discuss Parish matters and hear updates on finances and the progress with refurbishment work to the Church and presbytery.  A further 15 parishioners had given their apologies as they were unable to attend.  The meeting opened with an extract from the prayer of Archbishop Oscar Romero. 

This is a summary of what was discussed at the meeting.

·         David Meanwell of Right at Home in Stockport explained that he was interested in working with the Parish on an initiative to reduce social isolation amongst elderly and house-bound parishioners and the wider community, involving the resources available from his business.  There was a favourable response and the idea of linking it to the monthly Saturday Mass will be explored; this would give house-bound parishioners the opportunity to attend Mass in Church, followed by a social event including others from the wider community

·         Fr Bill reported that the SVP Conference has been re-established in the Parish.  It currently has six members and more volunteers would be welcome.

·         Mike Blundell summarized the Parish Accounts, the various sources of income and the expenditure which resulted in a balance of £15101.34 as at 31st March 2019. 

·         Fr Bill explained the difference between the Parish Account and the Central Fund held by the Diocese.  The Central Fund is currently showing a deficit of approximately £20,000 following the costs incurred in refurbishing the presbytery, work on the presbytery and sacristy roofs, the main Church roof and toilets (which cost approximately £194,000 in total).

·         Fr Bill reported on the refurbishment work generally and confirmed that 3 or 4 quotes had been obtained.  He explained that the work to the presbytery and sacristy roof was guaranteed for 25 years but as the Church roof was repaired, not replaced, it has a 3 year guarantee.   

·         A number of parishioners raised the issue of Rotas (eg Church cleaning, counting teams. flowers etc) and the need for more volunteers to enable those who have undertaken the duties for many years to “retire”.  It was agreed that a meeting of the existing Rota organizers would be arranged before Christmas to consider what was required and how to encourage new volunteers.  Enquiries will be made about the regulatory requirements for any driving rotas. 

·         Attendance at Tuesday and Saturday Adoration and at Eucharistic Services was noted to be low and the question was asked, what could be done to encourage increased attendance.  There was a suggestion that people could be encouraged to attend during Advent.  Fr Bill mentioned that there would be additional services through Advent and he also offered to move the time of Tuesday Adoration to the evening in the Summer months.

·         A parishioner acknowledged he had been met with friendly smiles as a newcomer, but made two practical suggestions on how else to make people feel welcome when they are new to the Parish:-

o   Anyone at Mass, seeing a newcomer, could personally introduce themselves

·         A group could be formed to visit newcomers.  It was noted that there had been an attempt to do this in the past.  Fr Bill confirmed that this was something which could be explored further.  

·         A note of thanks from Tony Walker (the organist) to Jacqueline Whittaker (who recently retired as organist at 9am Mass) was read out.  He recognised the valuable contribution of various groups and individuals to the music at Mass and wanted to encourage more people to consider joining the choir for Christmas and Easter. 

·         A parishioner suggested the possibility of sponsoring any child who was interested in learning an instrument but whose family were unable to afford it.  This will be considered if there is a suitable opportunity, but it was noted that children who attend St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Marple Bridge are lucky to have access to music lessons.  The school will be represented at the Advent Service.

·         Fr Bill mentioned he has a contact at St Bernadette’s in Brinnington who he could approach to assist in setting up a children’s music group if there is sufficient interest.

·         Marion Thompson thanked Fr Bill for volunteering to be Chair of Churches Together.  His induction will be on 19th January.  She encouraged parishoners to support Fr Bill in this role by attending Churches Together events, many of which will be held at The Holy Spirit in the forthcoming year.

·         In the five months since June, the Parish Development Fund has reached approximately £9000

·         Planning for the Church refurbishment is ongoing. 

o   The entrance doors and window are rotten and need replacing; Fr Bill has received an informal quotation of £33,000 for its replacement and will obtain further quotes.  When the funds have been raised, plans will be prepared and there will be consultation with parishioners, who will be given the opportunity to decide on the design

o   Other work mentioned included the replacement of the large window in the meeting room and replacement of votive candles.

·         Mike Blundell reported on the Parish audit and noted that the new accounting system (OPAS) is now being used which should ultimately simplify the preparation of Parish accounts.

·         Fr Bill expressed his thanks to Mike Blundell and Joan Maher for all the work they do in relation to the Parish accounts.

Any Other Business:-

·         A suggestion was made that, because people are often known by sight and not name, a photo of the deceased parishioner could be displayed in advance of the Requiem Mass or funeral service.  Fr Bill said he would ask families if they would be happy for this to happen.

·         It was noted that there had been 40 children at 9am Mass on 19th November.  Fr Bill expressed his thanks to Louise Perry for the work she does with Children’s Liturgy

·         Fr Bill made a number of final points:-

o   He expressed his gratitude to everyone who works in the Parish for their ministry and assured anyone wanting to “retire” that they should feel able to do so.  

o   He particularly thanked the Eucharistic Ministers who visit the sick and take them communion.

o   He confirmed that there would be no Christmas Raffle, in view of the extent of fundraising this year. 

o   He gave a brief update on St Bernadette’s in Brinnington.  There is a small congregation, but work is under way in the school to encourage Mass attendance.  A new Head Teacher has been appointed.  The Sisters of Evron have settled into their new convent, which replaced the old presbytery, and are a great help with the sacramental programme.

o   He expressed his thanks to the Development Committee

Penny Bowker offered thanks to Fr Bill on behalf of the Parish.

The meeting closed with the Parish Prayer.