The meeting was attended by Fr Pat, Fr Bob, Jay Magpuyo, with Jim O'Sullivan in the Chair and 18 members of the parish.
Apologies were received from Pat and Geoff Cook, Paul Simmons, Karen Rodgers.
Minutes of the last Forum have been publicised in the Narthex, on the website and are on offer to anyone who wishes to have them emailed - contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim 0'Sullivan outlined the history of the forum. It was set up 10 years ago in response to Bishop Michael's call, in the Diocesan Plan, for every parish to have a means of consulting with and involving the laity in decisions about parish life. St Laurence's opted for an open Forum. Initially there was some reluctance to have a formal steering group but after a few years it was apparent that the Forum generated a lot of ideas, many of which were taken forward by individuals with the agreement of the Forum and the Parish Priest, but some of these ideas foundered through lack of volunteers etc to see them through. It was then agreed to have a "facilitation" group of volunteers who would endeavour to make sure forum decisions were carried out. This group has continued to meet between Forum meetings with the aim of not "doing" everything but rather to coordinate, support and where necessary recruit other volunteers with skills and enthusiasm to take on particular actions or project. The Facilitation group has dwindled in size and it seemed a good moment to examine how it works and what the future should hold. The structure we have works quite well but perhaps a more formal structure is wanted. Also wider recruitment is important including all masses.
General discussion covered the ideas of fixed term facilitation group, wider publicity so that parish in general know how things work and do not feel it is run by a secret cabal. It was felt that the group should ideally include parish office staff, or at any rate keep in close contact.
It was wondered if the names, Forum and Facilitation Group explain what they actually are and other possible names were examined, perhaps being Parish Meeting and steering group.
Fr Bob commented that it seemed to him that what was happening was very much in line with Pope Benedict's advice that parishes should be involved like this as a sign of our common baptismal priesthood. Pope Benedict said that parishes are co-responsible for the Mission of the Church and should be united in standing for the Gospel. Some specific functions are reserved by Canon Law to the parish priest and his council ie finances.
Fr Pat agreed. Pope Francis has said much the same. Involvement in the process is important and we are a microcosm of what the Holy Father wants.
Stephen Warde agreed and said that it was better not to be too formal.
It was agreed that the Forum should encourage more involvement by parish members.
It was wondered if less frequent meetings would attract people more. Consideration should also be given to a larger annual meeting, perhaps linked to a social function, to widen the appeal.
Fr Bob commented that he felt the Forum is set up to carry forward the mission of the parish.
Mary Watkins stressed the need to have representation from all masses.
With regard to an improved name Richard Birkett felt that "Meeting" might be too generic. Moira said that people don't know about the forum, that much stronger feedback is needed, perhaps from the pulpit.
Jim O'Sullivan said it was reported on the website, summarised in the Pilgrim etc. The question is how to get the message out.
Susan O'Brien said that reporting verbally is always better than in writing, a personal telling and feed back is far more likely to be heard.
Fr Pat agreed and felt that a good idea is to have a brief feedback at mass.
Rob Beckwith suggested bullet points for feedback to be given out from the altar, either in the Homily or in the notices. He stressed the need to engage people to find out what they wanted to talk about etc.
Richard Birkett commented on the danger of small unaccountable advisory groups, saying the more pseudo-power, the less people will turn up. He felt the present structure is about right and was reassured that the facilitation group has no executive function.
Additional suggestions for new names, Action group, implementation group. Agreed facilitation says what it actually does. It has to remain a group that things are delegated to. How best can it be improved? Ensure a turnover of people involving a wider personnel. Need to find people who will do the task.
Overall: No major changes just strengthening and refreshing. Making it easier for people to feel involved. Sarah Sykes volunteered to join the group.
Mary Watkins showed a short video of Cafod’s new project, Connect 2 Peru.
She presented two different projects:
One on climate change in a poor farming area and their problems with local mining.
The local people have been helped to understand their legal rights, they farm land they actually own but where rights have been illegally sold off. They have now managed to reacquire the right to manage the water and were advised by Newcastle University to learn how to monitor its quality.
The second project involves children in a township on the outskirts of Lima.
The emphasis of both projects is to support people helping themselves and to understand the issues.
We will hear regularly from key figures in the project.
Fund raising, so that parish owns this, will be by a regular monthly collection to be known as "A Pound for Peru". The idea being that people contribute a pound each month. This will obviate the need for regular fund raising events. The money goes to Cafod direct but is specifically focussed on the Peru projects.
Fr Pat knows some of the priests involved personally and vouches for their care and enthusiasm. He feels this project will replace the Fatima Loaf Project which has run its course.
The project will be launched before Advent, 19th/20th November, with speakers at all masses. This will be this year's Advent project using prayers etc specifically focussed on the project.
People can learn more by accessing Cafod on line - Connect 2 - there is a YouTube video of the link with Newcastle University.
The Forum was enthusiastic that the parish goes ahead with the project.
Jeanette Milbourn had asked if it might be nice to name the people receiving the Eucharist at home, in the bidding prayers. It would be important to have those people happy to be named. This will be looked at at a future date.
The diocese is starting a major fundraising campaign called Alive in Faith. About £6m needs to be raised to cover three areas of expense: for seminary training at about £25k per year per seminarian; for retired priests who currently receive £100 per week pension but, if they need residential care, the amount goes up tremendously; for parishes to be used for social projects. This is more than twice the diocese's present annual income and it is planned that parishioners will pledge over periods of 5 years. Fr Pat will have more information during the next week.
Expenditure includes a carpet cleaner. CCTV is being installed plus a TV monitor in the narthex so that people sitting there are able to see the altar during Mass.
A celebration will take place in 10th August to mark St Laurence's day. Details will be publicised in the Bulletin.
Tom and Kay Robinson will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary on 13th August and will be giving a party in the parish room after the Vigil Mass to which all are invited.
The diocesan New Evangelisation project’s latest meeting will be publicised in the Pilgrim.
To follow up last year's actions it was decided to ask Karen Rodgers if she would consider organising the Posada rota whereby the figure of Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem is shared around parish members as a focus for prayer and evangelisation.
The balcony has been altered so that people can now view the altar uninterrupted.
The windows on the car park side of the church will start to be replaced on 1st August as will the new rear porch doors. This will be quite disruptive for a short time. The windows already replaced will be adjusted so that they remain open when set rather than just swinging closed.
The outside of the entrances to the church were noted to be a mess with litter everywhere. It was suggested that all parishioners take some responsibility for keeping this tidy, the bins are round at the end of the presbytery. A yard brush will be purchased to help with this.
The school year finished with the Leavers' Mass.
Although Arbury Road is to be closed for some major work during August it is planned that the 9.30 Mass will continue to take place at the school unless parking proves to be an insurmountable problem.
SVP thank the parish for their support.