Parish Pastoral Council of Belper with Duffield and Ripley – February 2022

Published Thu, 13/10/2022 by

Minutes of the meeting held at Our Lady’s Church on 

Wednesday 11th February 2022, 7pm 

Present:  Father Michael Kirkham, Tim Benson, Patrick McGuire, Niels Richthof, Anne Recchia, Christine Hamshaw-Pope, Phil Smith, Jason Guidon, Susan King, Kathy Gorman, Julia Dodd, Margaret Kirkham (Minutes secretary) 

1   Father Michael welcomed everyone and opened with scripture reading and prayer. 

Apologies: Nuala Walthall 

2   Minutes of the last meeting held on 12th January 2022 – to be revisited  

3  Matters arising – to be revisited  

4 Review of the three Parish Synodal meetings 

Father Michael asked members for significant words or phrases which spoke to them from the meetings. The following were mentioned: 

  • Inclusivity across the board
  • Hope that ideas from the meetings will survive
  • Initiatives towards the youth of the parish
  • Emphasis on community and ecumenism
  • Going forward
  • Outreach – to people who aren’t there
  • More leadership roles for women in the church
  • Engaging with young people
  • The marginalised and the notion to see a priesthood of the laity
  • Being of service
  • Being an outward looking parish. 

Comparing the Deanery review with ours there are two significant things not highlighted in our local parish discussion  

  • Addressing the use and number of buildings
  • An awareness of weaknesses 

Father Michael commented that a key element missing in both the parish and deanery discussions was

  • Evangelisation 

5  Report on Leadership Team Meetings 

Father Michael’s vision for the parish can be found on the parish website. 

A small leadership team has been meeting weekly using materials from Divine Restoration. The Synodal process got us dreaming of an ideal parish but how to realise those dreams? There is a need to look at where we are now. Father Michael has shared his dream for the parish with an emphasis on evangelisation. Phil has responded by offering to run a Sycamore Course during Lent. 

Phil thought Father Michael needs to be careful with the use of language as some people might take his dream as final. There is a need to open it up. Father Michael responded that he has been listening throughout the Synodal process; also, Divine Renovation recommends that the Pastor has a clear vision and shares it frequently as something for the parish to group around, otherwise what occurs is not vision but di-vision. Kathy wondered if he could ask, ‘This is my vision but is it our vision?’ thus giving the congregation ownership. 

Emphasis on Evangelisation: 

One of Divine Renovation’s key principles is the priority of evangelisation.  There is a need actually to give this extra emphasis because it has throughout the Church been so neglected in the last.  In relation to this there was sharing about the following developments:

  • Lenten Sycamore Course 

Phil explained the course that he is offering developed out of work with young people aged 18 – 25, exactly the group we don’t see much at church. It offers flexibility and is different to an Alpha course in that it takes the presence of God into peoples’ lives. Phil and a small team of catechists will lead a course, beginning on Ash Wednesday. All the material can be accessed on the website but the real power comes from being together in person. The course has excellent videos which can also be used with families for sacramental preparation, thus sowing the seeds of a growing faith community.  

Jason said when he was involved with youth work in his previous parish young people stopped coming at eighteen. It is a good age group to target. Anne commented that it is moments in life such as the birth of a child that can bring people back to the church.  

Phil concluded that the first course will be seen as a trial for future courses which could be held at church or in a pub. There is hope! 

    (ii)   Future policy on First Holy Communion and Confirmations 

Father Michael explained that FHC and Confirmation preparation was discussed at the first Synodal meeting. The young people almost always stop coming after receiving these sacraments and it becomes a ‘Rite of exit’.  

Divine Renovation look at FHC preparation as a pastoral opportunity, providing a partnership between the parish, the school and the parents with the parents’ involvement being the most important. Parents need to be a role model in appreciating God’s greatest gift by attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion. We need to push the reset button. 

During the restrictions, initially only two candidates from the previous group wanted to go ahead with receiving their FHC, two more then went ahead during a Sunday Mass. The majority of families wanted to wait until a big family party was possible.  

In the future the Sycamore course could be offered to parents of younger children equipping them to help with their child’s FHC preparation. Anne commented that for many parents their own catholic education stopped at age eleven and therefore they are in need of some adult formation. Jason commented that the Church builds up the FHC Mass as a social occasion but the children and the parents need to realise that it is the sacrament that is the most important. Anne thought the children should be invited to be involved in the Sunday Mass as welcomers, readers etc. 

Father Michael explained there is currently a group of children preparing in the usual way but after the summer the Leadership Team proposes that this should change. Parents will be invited to be involved to engage with the Sycamore course.  Those who become committed to Sunday Mass will be involved in the discernment regarding their child’s readiness to be prepared for communicant status.  The emphasis will no longer be on the ‘big day’ of First Holy Communion but rather on receiving Holy Communion for the first time – with the expectation that this will become an ongoing part of the family’s existing commitment.  Celebrations at which children receive Holy Communion for the first time will therefore take place during a Sunday Mass. The PPC agreed to support this.  

Further comments:  

Jason: ask parents are you ready for your child to be ready?  

Christine: I used to help with baptism preparation and was amazed at the sense of entitlement expected by parents.  It’s important to make preparation welcoming for non-catholic partners.  

Julia: Is baptism for anyone or just people who come? There is a problem with not allowing a child to make their FHC.  

Kathy: There is a danger in saying they can’t make their FHC.  

Phil: We will run a course, tell parents you are welcome to come, be involved with your child’s preparation and say when they are ready to receive their FHC in Mass. There could be a celebration for all families at a special Mass eg The Feast of Christ the King. 

Kathy: It is important to involve the children in various ways – welcoming, reading, helping with refreshments. 

(iii)  Maintenance to Mission 

Father Michael explained he has commissioned a report by Graham Roberts (member of the Finance Committee and a senior local government officer) to carry out a review of the plant of the parish and to present a report to the PPC. This is in response to the announcement at a Deans’ meeting of the proposed closure of St Margaret’s Duffield. Father Michael protested at the meeting that this had not been discussed but was told ‘it had been in the air’. He continued that he had pointed out the effect this would have on the parish as a whole: St Margaret’s has better facilities than Belper, it is more accessible, it is valued by the community, income would be lost and a large sum had been spent on extending the church (with the agreement of the diocese). At the Confirmation Mass last summer the Bishop remarked on the positive witness St Margaret’s gave. 

The closure is being driven by the hierarchy. There have been discussions about the diocese receiving a substantial cut from the sales of buildings and land. They need to be upfront about any financial gain. Could the site be sold?  It was originally given to the Diocese on the understanding it would be used for a church or otherwise revert to the builders.  

Susan said everything had so far been about Belper and Duffield when Ripley actually has all the facilities mentioned. Father Michael agreed but said these would need to be available for the church community and not hired out to groups. Susan thought the original agreement regarding the hire of the hall was from 2000 and only lasted for twenty years. It is likely that Ripley parishioners would attend Alfreton if St Joseph’s closed. 

Kathy thought if St Margaret’s closed the Duffield parishioners would attend Allestree. She also commented there is a need to think about the care of older people as well as the young.  

Niels said the logic to being missionary is ‘presence’, closing churches goes against the grain. Public transport in the area is not good, making it difficult for some to travel further afield. 

Graham’s report could open up an opportunity to have one Mass centre for Ripley, Belper and Duffield with more space and better facilities. 

Phil commented he’d said that ten years ago. Due mostly to the lack of priests, it is inevitable that more and more churches will close over the next forty years. Graham’s report will look at current use and future possibilities for the use of the parish plant. It will be possible for all PPC members to make their views known to him.  Fr Michael and Graham will meet in Nottingham with the Vicar General and David Lawes, CEO for the diocese. 

(iv) Fr Michael has asked John Vale to form a small working group to ensure the present buildings and grounds at Belper and Duffield are kept in good order but minimising costs in the short term. 

Susan is happy to continue this at Ripley. 

6 Focus on strengthening the Parish/St Elizabeth School link 

Due to time constraints this was not discussed but it was suggested that a representative from the school be invited to talk to the PPC about what they need/want from a partnership with the parish. Further links could be made with St Benedicts and The Briars.  

7 Deanery Reorganisation and projected church closures 

There is to be a Deanery Roadshow at which draft proposals will be presented for discussion by the Bishop and Curia prior to finalisation. This opportunity for our parish is on Monday 4th April at Matlock, 7 – 8.30pm. 

Niels has offered to represent the finance committee. Two PPC representatives are needed. Patrick volunteered. Fr Michael suggested either Kathy or Julia to represent Duffield. (A representative from Belper in addition to Niels would be welcome.)  

Several PPC members said they felt uncomfortable knowing that St Margaret’s had been suggested for closure and thought Fr Michael should give a carefully worded statement to the parish. This was agreed. 

Arrangements for Ash Wednesday and Holy Week 

Ash Wednesday 2nd March  

9.30am St Elizabeth’s School (The school is happy to welcome parishioners) 

11.30am St Joseph’s, Ripley 

6.30pm St Margaret’s, Duffield followed by the first meeting of the Sycamore Course at 7.15pm. 

Suggested for Holy Week:  

Monday 10am       Mass at Ripley  

Tuesday 10am      Mass at Duffield   

Wednesday 10am Mass at Belper 

Thursday 7pm       Mass of the Lord’s Supper Ripley  

Good Friday 3pm  Solemn Liturgy Belper   

Holy Saturday 9pm Easter Vigil Duffield 

[Subsequent responses from Duffield suggest the Easter Vigil at 9pm will not be supported; also, that musicians and servers for the Easter weekend will be in short supply, so the venue for this liturgy and its nature remain undecided] 

Tim asked if Ripley could have a service of Word and Communion on Good Friday. Fr Michael regretted the separatist nature of the request but said he will look into it. 

The Duffield Christian Council are running a Lent course concerning Stewardship of our World. Fr Michael offered a Lent course of praying with the scriptures at Ripley after the Thursday Mass, but there seemed little enthusiasm for the proposal. 

The meeting closed with the Grace 

An amendment to the secretary for item 4 in the minutes of 12th January was made by Niels. He had suggested signage from the road to the defibrillator which was proposed for St Joseph’s. 

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