THE MINUTES OF ST MARGARET MARY’S
PARISH MEETING HELD
ON 2nd OCTOBER 2016
Led by Lyndsay Docherty, Joe
and Diane Oliver (parishioners for life and over thirty years)
1. WELCOME: Joe extended a warm welcome to everyone and thanked them for coming to today’s meeting. He
apologised to Manchester United Fans for the
timing of today’s meeting, but he also explained that he would miss watching
his beloved Manchester
City later, as he would
be at his Grandson’s 3rd birthday party.
that the meeting was addressed not only to parishioners who had previously
come to meetings, but also to parishioners and parents of St Margaret Mary’s
Primary School Children who were attending one of these meetings for the
his disappointment that there appeared to be no parents of current Primary
school pupils present and that the three of us would readdress a way to
connect with these young parents by consulting with the headmaster next week.
started the meeting with our opening prayer:
2. OPENING PRAYER:
Father, We ask you for the gift of Discernment,
That we may see the way You wish us to go,
For the gift of Wisdom, that we may make the right choices,
For the gift of Courage, that we may see decisions delivered and completed by
That the values of the Gospel may
determine our every step,
And that You, Lord, will stay with us on
our journey. Amen.
3. DEFINITION OF OUR
Joe wanted to
explain the role which we three are trying to play for the Parishioners. He
explained that we are Parishioners like themselves, to whom it has fallen in
the current vacuum, to collect and consolidate their views, in order to try
to enable the best outcomes to occur for our community.
He added that there
may be some of you who are here for the first time and may be wondering why
we are having these meetings.
Lyndsay then said,
in brief, that our back story is that in late July we received the document
from Salford Diocese which gave us an outline for the restructure of the
parishes within our Diocese. Although there was a proposed twinning with St.
John Bosco’s, it clearly suggested the closure of St Margaret Mary’s. The
three of us were immediately alerted to the distress of our parishioners and
felt that we should do what we could to represent our whole community within
this new equation. Our choice was clear. If we made no response, then closure
would be inevitable. So we initiated this plan of collective action, starting
with our first official meeting on 21st August.
4. DISTRIBUTION AND READING OF THE MINUTES OF THE 4th
SEPTEMBER 2016 MEETING:
Diane then said we
have something for you to read which is relevant to both those who are here
for the first time and to those who have been with us on this journey from
the outset. It is the Minutes of our last official meeting held on the 4th
September. We would like to give you some time to glance over it before we
start today’s agenda.
(minutes were then distributed and all were allowed time to read them in full)
5. QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS ARISING FROM THESE MINUTES:
Joe then asked if
anyone had any questions or comments they would like to raise with us about
what they had just read. There were none asked, but Joe then told everyone it
was important that minutes were taken at each meeting, to remind us what we
had discussed previously. Referring to the minutes, Joe then read aloud, as a
reminder to everyone:
OUR COLLECTIVE MISSION
Parishioners of St. Margaret Mary’s R.C. Church, New Moston, wish to respond
to Pope Francis as a “Laity that goes forth!” acting from our Baptismal
Commission to participate in the Apostolic Mission of the Church, rather than
through a delegation from the Hierarchy.
‘It is Baptism
which makes every lay faithful a Missionary Disciple of the Lord, the Salt of
the Earth, the Light of the World, the Leaven that transforms reality from
involvement is opened up to us, we will pray and work together as a parochial
community, to ‘transform reality from within’ in order to build up God’s
Kingdom among us, around and beyond us.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done.
Stay with us Lord on our Journey.”
Joe then said we
would now like to tell you about two important meetings the three of us have
had: Firstly with Mr Sutton, the headmaster of SMM Primary School, on the
23rd September and after that, with the Bishop, here in the Parish Centre,
first thing on Thursday morning Sept 29th.
6. OUR MEETING WITH MR SUTTON ON 23rd SEPTEMBER 2016
referred to Page 5 of the Sept 4th Minutes, and read the
“Our Views: -
The significance of the situation of St Margaret Mary’s Church, being right
next to St Margaret Mary’s Primary School?”
- “This is extremely important,” you said, “ School and church need to liaise
to promote Faith in the Future. The Proximity of the church is a visible sign
to our school children and their parents of their faith.”
She continued to
say that it was overwhelmingly flagged up in the Parish Portfolio that our
people desire a close reconnection with the children and parents, as young families
comprise the essential future and survival of our Faith Community. We
therefore had a meeting with the Head teacher Mr. Sutton, who was most
supportive of a full reconnection between school and parish. We gave him a
copy of the Parish Portfolio, in
which he could read
the evidence of the importance of this relationship to our Parishioners. He
will be more than happy to pass this on at the next School Governor’s meeting
for their consideration.
7. COMMUNICATIONS TO AND FROM THE BISHOP:
Diane then related
how following this meeting with the Headmaster on the 23rd
September 2016, we had fully updated the Bishop that same day on everything
we had done since the 5th September, (which was the date on which
we had personally delivered our Parish Portfolio to him at his Residence.)
After receiving this most recent update from us on 23rd September,
the Bishop replied to us that very day, thanked us, expressed appreciation
for our concerns and affirmed our positive thinking. He went on to assure us
in writing that he would not ignore any of the content of our Parish Portfolio.
This response was
reported to the parishioners in church last Sunday.
Later on Sunday 25th September 2016, we received a further
email from the Bishop, the first sentence of which read as follows: “Thank you for
all the materials and information about the community of St.
Margaret Mary’s. I am pleased to see such enthusiasm for developing a
missionary aspect to the life of the community.” This means he is very
pleased that we are addressing his key definitions for the ‘Parish of the
Future’ as a “dynamic
and life-giving community”
Also within this email he asked us to confirm additional information.
But most importantly, he offered us a chance to meet with him, face to face.
We three then met the Bishop personally, here in the Parish Centre, first
thing on Thursday morning the 29th September 2016. Lyndsay will give you a brief outline of the
interchange which occurred between ourselves and the Bishop:
8. OUR MEETING WITH THE BISHOP ON THE 29TH
Lyndsay began by
saying that our meeting was characterised throughout by mutual respect and a
shared wish for the best outcomes.
She continued to say that he thanked us and
our parishioners, not only for the content of our Portfolio, but for the positive spirit
in which it has been compiled.
We made him aware of all the ways in which we are striving together
towards the missionary definition, trying to meet all its challenges, to
build bridges and reach out to one another. He affirmed all the signs of our
reinvigoration as a spiritual family.
Most importantly, we were able to tell him personally that SMM Parish
and SMM School have a strong mutual desire to be one community
We concluded with a direct
appeal to him for a chance for SMM to be allowed to make a go of it in a
merged parish with St. John Bosco’s under fresh leadership, which will preserve
the identity of both parishes.
He responded by promising to give very careful consideration to all
that we have put before him over these weeks, before arriving at his final
9. ADDRESSING OUR KEY ISSUE: ‘THE FUTURE OF ST MARGARET
MARY’S AS A COMMUNITY WHICH SERVES US ALL’:
Joe then referred
everyone to the head of Page 3 of the Sept. 4th Minutes that had
been handed out at today’s meeting: -
pointed out that in order to achieve what many parishioners had detailed in
their INDIVIDUAL STATEMENTS, we must all come together and offer our help
in whatever way we
He explained that to
this end, we need your views, hopes and ideas as to how we can achieve this.
He asked if they
had any suggestions
of how we can rebuild our community, work together and very importantly, to
enjoy our time together ?
He added that we
three cannot practically achieve this ourselves, it takes all of us.
were then put forward, which are now reported: -
10. PARISHIONERS’ VIEWS
was asked, “What is a merger?” Lyndsay explained that it would involve two
churches coming together sharing a priest, but that each church would be able
to keep its own identity.
There was some
confusion over which churches would be placed together in the proposed
restructuring, as currently St. John Bosco’s shares a priest with Mount Carmel.
to the Bishop’s document to reiterate the Clergy’s proposals and to highlight
where the proposed changes would be in our locality, namely that St. John
Bosco’s would merge with SMM, with the ‘suggested’ closure of SMM. But if SMM
were to stay open, we would have a priest who would run the two churches.
It was asked
if that meant there would then be Daily Masses again. Joe said it could
happen that we would have masses on alternate days between the two churches,
as this already happens in other parishes. But at present we just don’t know.
referred us to the ‘Vineyard of the Lord’ – we are the workers and we all have
talents. If we are practising our faith it is not enough to just go to Mass. We are
missionaries. “Go and teach!” she exhorted.
“ We have to give that message – ‘Home, Church and Parish’, those
three are key. The characteristics of the first Christians were summarised by
these Gospel words: ‘See how they love one another and work together!’ The
parish depends on us using our talents – ‘God given talents!’ Think!
Paraphrase the words of President Kennedy who said: ‘ Think not what your
country can do for you, rather what you can do for your country’ So think:
“What can WE do for St. Margaret Mary’s?” The
Parishioners showed strong agreement by spontaneously applauding.
the parishioners that we would be producing minutes of this meeting just as
we have of our previous meetings and that a copy would be sent to the Bishop
and to Father Saunders.
Joe asked the
parishioners, for the future of SMM, if anyone would like to volunteer to do
any specific service as he, Diane and Lyndsay cannot practically run
everything themselves. He commented that we have had some volunteers coming
forward already to offer help and as a result we now have a parish website :
In the future
we hope this website will be linked in with the SMM primary school website.
suggested that areas of need for volunteers could be broken down into
individual categories or compartments. If volunteer lists were put up at the
back of church, people could then decide what they would like to help with
and add their name to the list, with the times they are available to help. A
Parishioner commented on a need for such a system to address the shortage of
volunteers for church cleaning.
It was also
suggested we make people welcome from school. If schoolchildren were able to
do a concert - a Christmas Carol Concert for example – then parishioners
would provide refreshments for them.
mentioned that we’ve had beautiful services on the altar in the past, led by
the children, incorporating dance and drama, which are well remembered by the
children themselves and their families.
It was noted
by parishioners how few children were present that morning at mass. Indeed,
it was felt to be very worrying. It was expressed that we urgently need
younger people doing the readings, bidding prayers and singing.
that it is not at present within our brief to create a primary school
presence in our services and that we must defer entirely to the authority of
the Headteacher, who in turn must have their presence ratified by the Board
of Governors and by Fr. Saunders. Joe said that this was one of the problems
we have particularly asked the Headmaster to address with the School Governors.
It was also
asked if the children could have mass in church rather than in the convent.
Sister Gabriel said the children belong in church. “ It’s theirs”, she said, “it
is their spiritual home. To be having mass in the convent is giving them the
wrong impression – that the convent and not the church is their home.” She
continued: “Children worshipping in Church is also the way to involve parents,
as the convent is too small to be able to do this. They should be there–in
the church-- as they are the young family members of the Church.”
It was asked
if we knew where the Bishop stands on Eucharistic services being held when
there is no mass. Joe said this was something we hadn’t asked at our meeting
with the Bishop, as our agenda with him had to be very focused and his time
slot was tight due to another engagement following straight after our
But we said that it was a good point and we
would pass this thought on. A parishioner said she had heard that it was
something to do with mileage. If there is a mass held within a certain mileage
of two churches, then a Eucharistic service would not be held.
mentioned by the same parishioner that we should be careful that we are not
running ahead of ourselves with plans for the future. She agreed about
activities which may involve school, but she recommended that we take things
steadily, one step at a time, firstly focusing on building up a spiritual
church – praying together – and after that the social elements.
She asked us
to consider the senior status of the majority present and to accept that
although they may want to take a very active part, they will be less able to
do so than when they were younger, so at the moment we can’t promise
that our priority was to reconstitute the link between the Parish and the young
families connected with the Primary School. That does not mean to take our
eye off all the other things raised, but rather to keep them like spinning
plates in the background.
quoted what Pope Francis had said about the subject of Unity between Schools and Parishes. She told us that the
Pope said that rifts do happen, but we have to get over them and bring people
back out of exile.
suggested that parents could be informed of meetings, by parishioners
distributing leaflets in the playground or putting up notices on the school
fence or doing a community leaflet drop.
All good ideas,
but Joe explained about the protocol of referring every action concerning the
school to the authority of the school governors and to the Headmaster, in
order to preserve mutual respect between us and them.
that this respect for correct procedures and protocols has guided all our initiatives from the outset and has caused
us to keep the School, Father Saunders and the Bishop fully informed of every
development as it arises.
reminded of the historic restructuring of the parish in the 1970s when St.
John Vianney’s was built.
It was stated by a parishioner that surely
the priests understood the importance of a church having an adjacent school,
so why are we now going to be closed?” Joe replied that at this stage it is only
a ‘suggested’ closure. Lyndsay then explained the causes of the
sustainability crisis throughout the whole Diocese , how and why
over-expansion occurred in the 1970s.
The point was
raised that in the Bishop’s document, it states that 75 churches are going to
be closed. In reply to this Joe said that this was upsetting and we
sympathise with them, but it is up to other communities to be pro-active like
ourselves at SMM on behalf of their own people. He reminded the meeting of
his original analysis of the statistics that were included in our Portfolio,
which revealed a far worse threat of church closures in south Manchester. We therefore
need to look at this as a whole and in perspective.
parishioners were told that Joe, Diane and Lyndsay would be meeting with the
headmaster at SMM primary school at some point during next week.
this part of the meeting, by asking everyone to think of a suitable community
activity we could carry out and to approach him, Diane and Lyndsay so that
this could be considered.
10. THE BISHOP’S EXPECTATIONS OF US:
Bishop is looking for us to achieve this, to prove
we are a sustainable and missionary community.
explained to everyone that a Missionary Community is one which dares to reach
out: to nurture both the social and the spiritual lives of our parishioners,
to serve the specific needs of different age groups, to link with and welcome
other communities outside our traditional boundaries, for example groups such
as St George’s C of E.
11. ARRANGING OUR NEXT MEETING:
discussion, it was agreed that we would meet again on Sunday 30th
October 2016 after 10.30am Mass.
12. CONCLUDING PRAYER
Diane then asked
everyone to refer to Page 3 of the Minutes and join in with us in our
concluding prayer: -
As the Living
Body of Christ,
May we open
ourselves with docility and humility
To the newness
of God which surprises and surpasses us, but never disappoints us.
May we take up
the challenges of our present time,
As did Mary
our Mother and St Margaret Mary our Patron,
Blest with a
new apostolic vision, Amen.