Parish Pastoral Council of Belper with Duffield and Ripley

Published Thu, 20/10/2022 by

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

Tuesday 20th September 2022, 7pm

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

1  Father Michael opened the meeting with a gospel reading and prayer.

2  Safeguarding  – The Safeguarding Officer was unable to attend but will give a report at a future meeting.

Election of Chair – Carried over from the last meeting when Phil had agreed to take this on but not all members were present. As there were no further nominations, it was agreed that Phil take the Chair.

3 Leadership in the Parish – the centrality of Divine Renovation principles; relationship of parish committees/teams

Phil invited Dave to give a presentation on ‘Becoming a Missional Parish’, an outline of which had previously been sent to members. Dave promoted the work of Divine Renovation helps parishes move forward from maintenance to mission. He explained a group known as the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) had been meeting on Saturday mornings to pray about and discuss this.

Slide 1 set out the changes which will impact our parish in the near future and the aim of looking forward to become a missional parish, helping the parish to grow by evangelising existing parishioners and the wider community. He stressed the desire to keep all current parishioners involved. 

Slide 2 looked at the encouragement of parishioners in using their gifts to serve the parish and wider community. The Sycamore is already running, enabling parishioners to deepen their faith. A further aim is to develop new models for pastoral care and take a new approach to First Holy Communion and Confirmation preparation. Also taking prayerful and practical steps to enable all to participate, strengthening the feeling of community.

Slide 3 set out plans to be developed by the SLT and overseen by the PPC on becoming a Missional Parish, including consulting parishioners over how to organise the new unified parish, analysing the ‘health’ of the parish, strengthening the links with the schools and monitoring progress. 

Slide 4 set out new structures and emphasises the importance for the clarity of roles, including that of the parish priest as pastor. The SLT is recommending a small Strategy Group be set up to oversee the closure of St Margaret’s and the successful inclusion of current St Margaret’s parishioners into worship at other Mass Centres. Also to look at ways in which the unified parish can move forward.  Both the SLT and Strategy Group will operate in accordance with decisions taken by the PPC. It is hoped the PPC will endorse, and fully support this approach through Divine Renovation, using it as a toolbox to renew the life of the parish. 

Clarification was requested of the term ‘actively unengaged’ members of the parish. This was said to be people who choose deliberately to not engage and was part of knowing the overall health of the parish. The importance of better communication with parishioners was stressed including offering an invitation to some to return to Mass. 

The terms engaged, unengaged & actively unengaged can appear to be judgemental. They are from elements of Divine Renovation for self-assessment. The PPC cannot judge parishioners but could implement a series of approaches allowing people to judge themselves. Decide what will work for our parish to allow people to clarify their own commitment and involvement. Involvement does not have to be ‘out there’, it may be a prayer ministry and/or behind the scenes involvement. A route to assess/develop peoples’ gifts would be better terminology than engaged, unengaged etc.

The SLT ideally should have equal representation from Belper, Duffield and Ripley. It needs to be a small group of people who are prepared to give their time and skills planning and then informing the PPC. The PPC should offer the SLT their vision, with the SLT planning its implementation.  

It was suggested that the SLT be called the Divine Renovation Group. Father Michael commented this was misleading as Divine Renovation is for everyone and the wording is important to keep community spirit to the fore. Mission Leadership Team was agreed on.

4. Closure of St Margaret’s and longer-term planning

Questions and comments were invited from members: 

  • Who is a member of the SLT and do parishioners know who they are? Where is Ripley on the SLT? Fr Michael, Phil Smith, Dave Wilkinson, Brenda Davies, Patrick McGuire, Helena Carrazedo, Joel Bryan. 

Communication between the PPC and SLT needs managing so everyone is on the same page. The SLT serves the PPC who in turn advise Father Michael. Having a diagram may help. 

  • Cliques could develop with small organising groups taking the parish in a particular way which may not be for all. Some will feel left out and perceive things are being done behind their back. There is a need to develop a ‘Welcome Ministry’.
  • The way forward is hemmed in by Canon Law, members of the PPC have the right to disagree. The priest is overall in charge, the PPC is advisory. The diocese has overall power, as in the case of closing St Margaret’s. Parishioners can inform decisions.
  • The people say St Margaret’s should not close – the Curia say the opposite. This top-down approach has been witnessed before. The Curia thinks the laity do not matter. The Chair took exception to this comment. 
  • What is the difference between the PPC and the SLT. The SLT do not make decisions. It was intended that ideas from the SLT be brought to the previous PPC meeting but it was thought there were not sufficient members present. The PPC is a strategical body and the SLT an operational one. 
  • It was confirmed that the diocese would oversee the closure of St Margaret’s as the parish does not have the expertise for this. It is the responsibility of the parish to ensure the Duffield parishioners feel welcomed and are pastorally cared for.
  • What will our parish look like in the future as Belper and Ripley become one parish?

The diocese cannot dictate how the parish develops. It is proposed a small Strategy Group work on finding possible ways forward, thinking creatively outside the box. The results can be presented to the diocese.

  • Where are the people’s voices in this? It is likely most Duffield parishioners will go to a Derby church. We must stretch out our hand…
  • Will the diocese make the final decision? We need to look at where we are now and find a way to move forward. We should take into account what all three churches are currently doing. Could the Strategy Group carry out an audit? This will slow the process but may be the right way to go. It is likely the meeting with the senior curia will be in the new year rather than October/November. Agreed to push this meeting to January.
  • Is there a timeline? The diocese suggests two years but work towards this should be started now. It is important to have milestone markers along the way.
  • Could we contact other parishes and ask how they faced this? Most had already ceased being Mass centres.

     Father Michael offered a reminder of the background to the parish’s situation. It was said at the Diocesan Roadshow in April and the Council of Priests meeting that we require power at the local level to make our own decisions. However, it has proved to be top down.

     Following the Synodal process it felt like Divine Renovation was being encouraged by the diocese but then came the impact of Covid and the announcement of St Margaret’s closure, causing a collision of interests. In the past a plan for Duffield to join with St Mary’s was resisted.

     It is very important not to let the closure undermine the renewal of the parish and to keep all parishioners on board. Previously three attempts at renewal have been made from outside the parish but due to backlash against the last attempt, the parish has been unable to move forward. 

      Divine Renovation began with a small group of enthusiasts looking at the process of renewal (there was an invitation given at all three churches for interested people to come forward) and has only now got to the point of asking the PPC to embrace the process. The mission of the parish is gradually being opened out through the Sycamore courses and will then filter into the wider community.

Further comments from members:

  • Disappointment was expressed at the treatment of the Duffield parishioners by the diocese. There are many mixed messages in Duffield regarding the closure. 
  • What happened to the promised meeting with the senior Curia? It will take place when the parish has a positive plan for a way forward with all parishioners prepared to move forward together. It was felt the curia have failed to respond to correspondence and have shown no transparency.  
  • We have to accept it is going to happen. A comment followed of how one PPC member had criticised another, this was quashed by the Chair.
  • Why Duffield? If only the Diocese would explain their reasoning behind the closure.

The Diocese want to keep a presence in all market towns and in areas of housing growth. 

  • If a Strategy Group (a task to finish group) recommend actions, the Diocese can be reminded they promised to come. 

Proposal from the Chair – Is the PPC in agreement to invite a Strategy Group, with a representative from each church, to bring creative ideas and proposals to the council?

Vote: 10 in favour, 1 abstention.

It was proposed to ask the following to be a member of the Strategy Group: 

Graham Roberts (Belper), John Holmes (Duffield), Terry Meakin (Ripley),

Phil Smith representing the PPC.

Action: Phil to ask Graham, Kathy to ask John, Susan to ask Terry.

Due to time constraints agenda items 5 and 6 were not covered.

The meeting concluded with prayer.

Date of the next meeting: Tuesday 18th October 2022, 7pm at St Joseph’s.

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