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

Published Thu, 13/10/2022 by

Minutes of the meeting held at St Joseph’s Church on 

Wednesday 12th January 2022, 7pm

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

1   Father Michael welcomed everyone and opened with prayer.

2   Apologies: Nuala Walthall

David Pipe has offered his resignation due to ill health, this was accepted.

Fr Michael said David’s contribution to the parish would be greatly missed, particularly with regard to his ecumenical work through Churches Together in Belper. Members signed a card of thanks and sending get well wishes.

The Minutes of the last meeting held on 22nd September 2021 were approved and accepted as a true record.

4  Matters arising 

  • The electrical work for the installation of a defibrillator at Duffield (to be paid for by the parish) is expected to be carried out very soon. Susan had raised the idea previously of installing one at St Joseph’s. It was agreed to go ahead with this. The location of other defibrillators is to be checked with the Town Council. It should be on an outside wall and visible from the road. It could be promoted with a leaflet drop to surrounding houses and mentioned in the Council’s Newsletter. Susan and other members agreed to take this forward.
  • New hymn books have been purchased for St Joseph’s. It was agreed to ask parishioners to make a donation towards the cost by having a dedication for a loved one inscribed on a bookplate. It was then decided to purchase new hymn books for Belper. The suggestion of having screens was also made. Phil and Niels agreed to arrange for an audio firm to look into the practicality and cost of this. It would require a team of operators and could be seen as a ministry within the church. It would also open up the possibility of illustrating homilies/talks as well as giving words for the liturgy. Susan asked why this was being looked at just for Belper. Phil explained that it would give more flexibility as the music there involves having lots of paper copies as not all the hymns chosen are in the book. At Duffield and Ripley the musician’s use the contents of the hymn book. Anne added that she has recently introduced new hymns from the book. It was agreed to purchase books and investigate the audio system for Belper. Neils said a sound system could also be considered for Duffield, particularly to help with future outdoor Masses.

Fr Michael also mentioned the possibility of a having loop system at Duffield..

  • It was agreed to ask a local locksmith to change the locks on the church doors at Ripley.
  • Fortunately no plans for a further lockdown will be needed.
  • Here Now Us – David Pipe will be missed in representing the parish for CTiB. Fr Michael said other representatives are needed, Christine offered to do this.

5 Review in recent trends in Mass attendance

Fr Michael reported a recent feeling of revival in numbers attending Mass. This has been at about 60% of pre-pandemic levels but just recently has risen to about 70%.

Review of Christmas Arrangements

The numbers attending over Christmas were similar to a weekend but spread over four Masses. The three on Christmas Eve were all well attended, the Christmas Day Mass less so. Jason suggested that some parishioners may have been away as this was not possible the previous year. Christine mentioned that the new Covid variant was very prevalent and some people were still taking precautions.

Phil asked when the Midnight Mass changed to 9pm. Fr Michael said it was in Pope Benedict’s time. Susan commented she would like a midnight Mass at St Joseph’s.

Jason thought a midnight Mass was more doable in parishes where there are more priests. Fr Michael commented that the missal does not specify a Mass at midnight.

Niels had received a complaint about the inclusion of Latin in the Belper Christmas Eve Mass. He suggested there could be a Latin Mass but publicised as such beforehand. Anne commented that it is not inclusive, especially for younger people. 

Phil thought it was not the Latin so much as the style of the Mass that people objected to. 

Christmas 2022

Fr Michael raised the question regarding the times for Christmas Day as this year it falls on a Sunday. Would parishioners expect the Christmas Day 10am or the usual Sunday times? Jason thought 10am worked well for families. Susan suggested a 10am for Ripley which could then alternate with Belper. This was supported by Neils and is to be considered.

6 Resume of the Synodal process in our Parish and next steps

Documents of the results of the synodal meetings in each church have been sent out to members. Phil will provide a precis of these to be circulated to members and added to the website and Facebook. 

Phil gave a brief overview of some key ideas and themes arising from the three meetings. Overall the parish has to be more outward looking, to be seen to be part of the wider community. There is a need to defy the impression people have of Catholics as ‘a closed shop’, the Church should be seen to be more inclusive. The idea of a synod is walking together as a parish – being a church for people who are not there.

Next steps – Phil is to lead a Deanery meeting for clergy and lay representatives from the parishes looking at their responses to the Synodal process. This information will then go to David Cain and Joe Hopkins to be presented to the Bishop and the Diocese and then on to the Bishops’ Conference.

The next step is to determine what is seen to be the most important for the parish and begin to find ways of implementing it.

7  Father Michael’s involvement in a training programme by Divine Renovation

Fr Michael had met keynote speakers and facilitators from Divine Renovation at two recent clergy conferences. They offer a six part training programme for clergy in addition to some excellent resources available to all. Their core principles are:

  • Evangelisation –  recapturing of the vision of the outgoing early church in spreading God’s Word.
  • The co-responsibility of a leadership team, together with the priest, for the life and flourishing of the parish.
  • Reliance on the Holy spirit – with God’s grace to help bring in the harvest, forming a firm base on which to build.

Fr Michael described the current situation in the parish as being weakened, not only by the pandemic, but also by the clustering of the three churches. Ripley has reduced to one Mass, Belper has lost the Vigil Mass and Duffield has lost the Sunday Mass. Currently the Vigil at Duffield is largely supported by Belper parishioners.  Sadly some key parishioners have died over the last two years and others have not returned to Mass. There has been a shift in allegiance to parish life, watching Mass online, attending other parishes and pursuing other activities.

The parish needs a strong base from which to be an outward looking Church. There is a need for a leadership team who will meet weekly. Four people have already committed to this. Fr Michael asked for prayers that a cohesive group will be found to lead the parish forward. He made clear that the team are not necessarily the ‘doers’ but their role is to engage with the wider parish and harness the gifts and talents of all. Fr Michael concluded that everyone has a responsibility to offer something.

8  Plans for Lent, Holy Week and  Easter

Due to time constraints this was not discussed.

9  Implications of Deanery Reorganisation

Derbyshire currently has three deaneries, Amber Valley, Derby and High Peak.

It is planned that there will instead be a North Derbyshire and a South Derbyshire Deanery. This would give two larger groups of parishes and provide a wider view of opinions for priests. The feeling was that the Amber Valley churches would best fit in with the towns and more rural areas of North Derbyshire. Discussions are ongoing with the Bishop and the Diocese.


Christine gave a brief resume of the community sponsored Refugee Welcome scheme she is involved with in Belper. The fund-raising has been going well, the group now have a bank account and they have been offered an unfurnished house to rent for a family. She would like to speak at all three Masses when convenient.

The meeting closed with prayer.

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