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The Churches of St Austin's, Wakefield, Est. 1828 & English Martyrs, Wakefield, Est. 1932

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Parish Forum Meeting July 2017

The Parish of St Austin’s and English Martyrs’

Parish Forum Meeting

at English Martyrs’ Centre

Thursday 20 July 2017 at 7 pm


1             Opening Prayer:   – Fr Smith


2             Minutes of the last meeting:   were summarised by Fr Smith and contents agreed.


3             Present:  , Fr David Smith, SA  Patrick Ganley, David Willis, John Cuttell, Agnes Hoban, Catherine Barber, Anne-Marie Granger, Barbara Johnson, Bernard Martin, Colin Raymond, , Anne Blackburn, David Slingsby EM Angela Caines, Jody Ineson, Mary Matthews, Pat Brown, Vanessa Hunter.


4             Apologies:  Brian Hamill, Paul Granger, Irene Marshall


5             Proclaim – Bernard Martin reported on the meeting which took place in St Austin’s Parish Centre last evening.  He thanked all who regularly share their gifts at these Proclaim meetings.  Thank you to Fr Smith for his encouragement – he never misses a meeting.  Proclaim is open to all and parishioners are asked to think about coming to listen and contribute.  Proclaim is part of our response to the Church’s call to evangelise.   Pope Francis tells us, “A person who is not convinced, enthusiastic, certain and in love will convince nobody.”  With this in mind we have arranged several significant opportunities for parishioners, - a week of Guided Prayer in mid October, a parish mission next June and followed by a parish retreat at The Briery in October 2018.  We hope to run Alpha for parents of school children and a Mass and a social event for the sick and housebound sometime in the autumn.  Full minutes of this meeting can be found on the parish web site. 

This report provoked a general discussion on other matters.   it was mooted by a few of those present that those students from St Thomas à Beckett Secondary School who have returned from Lourdes and who have received financial support from the parish in the form of bun sales should be asked to play an active role in the liturgy.  It was suggested that whilst they are still so enthusiastic on their return should be invited to tell us of their experiences at a Mass, and this should be followed by a social event.  It was hoped that the new programme of Confirmation preparation, which involves parents and grandparents would increase parishioner involvement and commitment.  It is hoped to arrange a Mass for the Sick and this would be a perfect opportunity for the students to have care of the parishioners in much the same way as they did in Lourdes.  It was also suggested that sport could be an effective way of connecting school and parish and St Austin’s Theatre offers the perfect venue for ball and racquet sports, but would need co-operation from St Thomas à Beckett’s.  A football team at St Austin’s is already well established.  Fr Smith said all these very good ideas could be passed on to Fr Sean Crawley, our new Assistant Priest, when he arrives in September. 


6             Catechesis – Angela reported that Fr Tim Swinglehurst, Linda Pennington and others have become part of a team looking at different catechetical programmes and Angela recently attended a meeting with Fr Swinglehurst at SS Peter and Paul’s Church, Sandal.  Beginning 2018 there will be a programme of reconciliation but  no First Holy Communion programme for year 3s [aged 7 and 8 years].  From September 2017 years 7 and 8 [aged 12 and 13 years] will start a programme for Confirmation and they will receive the sacrament in early 2018.  .  When that finishes years 5 and 6 children [aged 10 and 11 years]  will then start their preparation in 2018.  There will be 12 sessions and it is hoped that each child will be accompanied by a parent or grandparent.  Involvement from parishioners is essential for this programme to succeed to help the parents\grandparents with “homework” and for discussion at home as it is likely that most families requesting Confirmation are not active members of the parish.  This will also help parents to feel that they are journeying with their children together and feel supported and affirmed by the parish.  It is hoped that there will be a possibility that school staff would be involved.  The parents of years 5 and 6 [aged 10 and 11 years] will receive a letter from the parish priest inviting them to seek an appointment with him to commit themselves to the 12 sessions. 


7             Safeguarding – Members of the Safeguarding Team are Barbara Johnson, Mark O’Brien, Eileen Wharton and David Slingsby.  They use the diocesan safeguarding procedures.  This procedure has had to be updated now that the CRB has been superseded by the Disclosure and Barring Service.  It is now possible to include different roles in the one DBS.  If there are any queries please ask one of the team for assistance. 


8             Altar servers – Vanessa Hunter said that children who have recently made their First Holy Communion at English Martyrs are keen to become altar servers.  Fr Smith said he would train them and Vanessa offered to provide a list of their names.  More also need to be recruited for Saint Austin’s along with Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who should be around 18 years of age.  There is no age restriction for readers as long as they are able to read well and be heard.


9             Tony Hickey:  an invitation for him to come to the parish was discussed at the Proclaim meeting last night.


10           Overview:  Fr Smith addressed the meeting.  He said that the new curate, Fr Sean Crawley aged 29 years, will arrive at the beginning of September.  He has an able mind and has been involved in writing material for the new catechesis.  He is enthusiastic about the schools including the primary schools.  He will also be the hospital chaplain.  The new programme of sacramental preparation present us with lots of challenges and opportunities.  The meeting of the Proclaim Forum last night spoke about significant pastoral and spiritual initiatives.  The lectio divina during Lent was very interesting.  Fr Smith also spoke about the synoptic gospels, in St Austin’s Parish Centre.  The talk was very well attended, and the evening finished with a social get together in the café\bar afterwards.  Fr Smith plans to continue with this successful format of teaching and socialising at another talk in the autumn with Fr Sean’s help. 


Finance:  our financial situation continues to cause concern.  Approximately £2,000 is taken in the weekly collection half of which goes to the diocese.  The rest meets the cost of sustaining two priests and maintaining all our buildings.  Our activities are restricted by finance and he plans to speak more about this in the autumn.  On the whole, apart from the finances, the picture is very encouraging.


11           Date of next meeting – Thursday 26 October at St Austin’s Parish Centre.  – TBC


12           Closing prayer:  Fr Smith.