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

Published Thu, 13/10/2022 by

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

Wednesday 23rd March 2022, 7pm

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

1   Father Michael welcomed everyone and opened with a prayer for Ukraine.

Apologies: Susan King, Anne Recchia

2   The Minutes of the last meeting held on 11th February 2022 were accepted.

3  Matters Arising

Tim clarified he did not mean Ripley should have a Service of Word and Communion on Good Friday but the Good Friday Liturgy. Fr Michael commented that as we move towards a unitary parish there needs to be joint services and as this is a special liturgy it needs to be led by a priest. Next year it could be at St Joseph’s. 

Sycamore Course – Phil reported this is being well attended by a group of parishioners from all three churches who already have an established faith. From this he hopes to establish a catechetical team working alongside other people as missionary disciples. 

It has a clear format, the videos are engaging and people appreciated the opportunity to chat informally about their faith. PPC members said they have found it both enjoyable and encouraging. Julia commented it is important to provide a transition from a course into Christian living and missionary discipleship.

Phil asked for the Leadership Team and PPC to establish what is needed in terms of Sacramental preparation. 

A strong link with St Elizabeth’s School is most important with the need to work together on a policy and programme for First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Also to link in with St Benedict’s. 

Holy Week

Monday-Wednesday Mass to be at 9am. The Easter Vigil will be at Belper, 9pm was thought to be too late for a Mass at Duffield and it was tried and tested at Belper. Musicians are also available. Phil asked if other churches have the Vigil earlier  (put this on??)

4. Report by graham Roberts

This reviewed options for the future of the parish in light of the Diocese’s expressed intent that St Margaret Clitherow’s church should close.

  • The parish does not think it is unsustainable to keep Duffield open.
  • We need to fight the diocese. 
  • An answer is needed regarding any covenant on St Margaret’s. The parish need to be aware of any legal considerations.
  • The first argument should be ‘Do nothing’ to prevent damage by losing parishioners and financial support. This is the right argument in this case.
  • Closing is the opposite of mission. People will either not attend Mass elsewhere or will do so online.
  • The church is an asset for both the local and church communities and should be kept open even if a weekly Mass is not possible in the future.
  • It comes out of the blue. It is clear the diocese does not appreciate the links with the local community.
  • We should be a missionary presence where we live and worship.
  • The diocese is looking at all churches with less than 100 parishioners attending Mass as this puts undue pressure on a small group of people.
  • It is wrong that the diocese use the same yardstick for all churches.
  • There is no community feel if people have to attend churches with bigger congregations.
  • Who will give pastoral care to the people of Duffield?

(It will still be part of the bigger parish of Belper and Ripley)

  • The diocese does not consider individual locations and facilities. In many ways the Belper site is less suitable than Duffield.
  • Currently all three sites are financially sustainable. If the long-term lack of priests is the problem, keep all churches open but with less Masses.
  • The diocese (and Bishops Conference) needs to find a different solution to the lack of men coming forward for training. What level of pain does the Church have to reach before things are changed? When will the Church wake up?
  • We will be at ths point again in ten/twenty years’ time. 
  • Other countries have encountered the wrath of the Pope for wanting to make major changes.
  • If this is managing decline, it is demoralising.
  • The parish are very dissatisfied with the diocese in that the bishops have failed in growing churches over a long period of time. Why are other Christian churches flourishing?

The parish need to be aware of any legal considerations.

  • Excited by idea of building on school site. Consideration needed of ownership of land and planning permission.
  • Evangelisation can happen. Be mindful of St Francis being told by God ‘Go build my church’.

   7.  Report from Belper Goes Green

            Christine reported that Churches Together in Belper need someone to take a lead on the overall organisational planning for their stand/marquee at Belper Goes Green, 10 – 12 June. This will involve co-ordinating bookings, planning activities and liaising with volunteers. 

The request will be put on the bulletin. 


Jason asked if tea and coffee after Sunday Mass at Belper can be restarted as it is an important part of fellowship. There was a lapse due to illness but this will restart on 3rd April and will be weekly if enough volunteers come forward. 

Graham Roberts is to be thanked for his work on preparing the thorough report on the options for the future of the parish.

The meeting ended with prayer.

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