Summary of the Recent Parish Open Forum:
St Anthony of Padua Parish Open Forum 16 May 2019 – Notes
***Present: Wendy Smith, Fr Peter Draper, Jackie Stopyra, Louise Baron, Peter Newsham, Maureen Hefferan, plus 27 parishioners
***Apologies: Ian Mulholland, Sue Thompson, Denise King, Liz Hughes, Ennis Donnell, Hugh Aitken, Peter Towers
***Welcome and Opening Prayer by Fr Peter
***Introduction of existing Parish Leadership Group by Wendy Smith plus a brief explanation of the role of PLG, how often it meets (usually once per school term) and an invitation to parishioners to attend the next PLG meeting, particularly if they are interested in serving the Parish in this way.
***We celebrated what is already happening in the Parish – some of it well known, some of it unobserved.
- Toddler Group
- Mission Box Collectors
- All Uniformed Groups
- St Anthony’s Singers
- Readers & Readers Rota
- Our Clergy
- Meeters & Greeters
- Bidding Prayer Writers
- Collection Counters
- Lost & Found Choir
- Bell Ringers
- The Prayer Group
- Gardening Team
- Finance Committee
- Future Foundations Group
- First Communion Catechists
- Parish Website
- Confirmation catechists
- Churches Together Reps
- The Annexe
- Musicians at Masses
- St Anthony’s Club
- Children’s Liturgy
- Wedding Prep
- Altar Servers
- Baptism Prep
- Offertory procession & Rotas
- Friendship Group
- Primary School
- CAFOD Group
- High School
- Church Decorations at Christmas
- Parish Newsletter
- Eucharistic Ministers (church & visiting)
- Church Cleaning Group
- S.V.P. Group
- Flower Group
- Bidding Prayer Writers
- Parish Directory
- Property Maintenance
This list – with the addition of other groups and with contact details – will form the basis of the Parish Directory, to be available in print and on the Parish website (see below).
***Parish Renewal Jackie Stopyra introduced some ideas for consideration, on the basis of Christ’s command: “Go … make disciples … baptising … and teaching”. We are all at different stages in our faith journey: some have only a vague idea of the Christian message; for some church attendance is a guarantee of a school place; some remember only what they were taught at school; for many life has challenged and shaken faith; and some feel they need more but are not sure what.
Our vision is that St Anthony’s will provide the opportunities and means to strengthen the Faith and Hope of the Parish community, so that the fruits of Love will increase.
We can no longer expect our children (or anyone else) to stay in the Faith simply because they have been taught to believe, taught to behave, and taught to turn up on Sunday. As in so many things they will only commit when they experience “a real and authentic experience of belonging”
So, what can we do? Assuming we are not going to give up, we can start by building on and developing the good work we already do as a parish.
***The Parish Questionnaire raised issues, concerns and needs in a number of areas, and initial suggestions and proposals in these areas are as follows.
Faith Formation: to provide a wide range of educational events, courses, material to support people wherever they are on their faith journey. In the next 12 months we suggest
- A half day retreat/renewal for all who minister at out weekend Masses
- Formation courses to be offered in the Autumn
- Make CTS materials available, and create a small library available to borrow/buy
- Review the liturgy and music – greater/wider parish involvement.
Suggestions from the meeting:
Greater involvement of young parishioners in creating specific themed liturgies, with real jobs to do: readings, bidding prayers, providing music etc.? (see Outreach below)
- Install screens showing the hymns thus improving our singing
- Consider an 8.00 am breakfast Mass once a week to attract primary & high school pupils & parents (followed by toast?)
Social: to provide a wide range of events appealing to different sections of our community, including those who do not currently attend Mass. In the next 12 months we intend to offer
- Coffee sessions after each weekend Mass
- Afternoon Tea (November)
- Recruit a wide range of volunteers to plan events, create publicity, sell tickets, help at the event with no long-term commitment required
- Make good use of our meeting room (see Practicalities below)
Suggestion from the meeting:
- Parish picnics (Haslam Park? Moor Park?) (see Outreach below)
- Place a short ‘religious’ element before major social events (e.g. before a Bonfire/Fireworks event)
- For each individual social event put a ‘Volunteers Wanted’ poster in church – allows people to sign up for a single event, not a long commitment.
- Advertise events on ‘What’s On In Preston’ site
Communication: to communicate effectively with all members of our community – regular Mass goers or not. In the next 12 months we intend
- To completely redesign the parish website
- Greater use of social media
- Provide appropriate training for both the above
- Produce an up to date Parish Directory
- Consider producing an ‘all in one’ sheet (full Mass text, plus hymns, plus notices) – at least for some one-off Masses (First Holy Communion, Confirmation) where there will be many non-regular attenders.
Suggestions from the meeting:
- Consider producing links to resources to the next week’s Readings (web links, podcasts, YouTube etc.)
- Consider communicating with consenting parishioners by email
- Consider approaching OLCHS to make running the website an official Computer Science project?
- Podcasts of Sunday Mass?
Outreach: to increase the numbers actively involved in our mission to serve, and to increase our financial support to charities. In the next 12 months we intend
- To decide on a major charity project to support over a 2 to 3 year term
- Work closely with the Social group
- Develop and strengthen links with our primary and high schools (social action group? Environmental concerns etc.) (See Faith Formation, Social above)
Suggestion from the meeting:
- Invite OLCHS to produce artwork for the meeting room
Practicalities: to use our parish resources (finances, buildings and people) to best advantage. In the next 12 months:
- Develop systems for use of the new meeting room
- Discuss and decide ways to improve communications (what, when, by whom, how etc.)
- Discuss and decide whether to commit Parish funds to outside speakers, Faith Formation courses etc.
- See Social above
***’Name the Meeting Room’ Wendy Smith advised that the three most popular names in the parish vote – CAMEO (Come And Meet Each Other), The Cadley Room and The Padua Room – were running neck and neck. It was agreed to reach a decision by show of hands, and on this basis The Padua Room was selected overwhelmingly.
***Conclusion: Wendy Smith thanked everyone for their ideas and commitment, and encouraged everyone to talk to those who had not been able to attend, to our own families and friends, and to our school age relatives: asking them to get involved, to join in, to help out, and in that way – perhaps – to experience the “real and authentic experience of belonging” spoken about earlier.
Number of forms returned: 34
Not all respondents answered all sections.
What does our Parish do well?
- Good at welcoming new people into the Parish/Meet & Greet before Mass (9)
- Christmas & Easter liturgies (7)
- The band at the end of the Christmas Midnight Mass was a wonderful surprise!
- Good social events/St Anthony’s Feast Day (9)
- Excellent bonfire night – got very good reviews. But alas – dying out
- We support each other/friendly (2)
- The Parish lives up to the ‘Parish Vision’
- First Holy Communion/Confirmation preparation (4)
- Children’s Liturgy, Uniformed Groups, Playgroup etc. (10)
- My youngest child thinks that the children’s liturgy is excellent
- Children’s Liturgy – a joy to hear our young speakers
- Vibrant Parish Centre
- Very well organised, good communication (3)
- We keep trying!
- SVP, helping the less fortunate (2)
- Forward looking – demonstrated by the new meeting room
- Good at organising charitable events and community activities
- Singing/choir groups/Carol Concerts (5)
- Altar groups/servers (2)
- School links (2)
- Liturgy is well prepared
- I appreciate the work done to make the church ready for the important feasts such as Easter, Christmas
- Church is well maintained, is clean and has good flower arrangements
- Thanks to those people!
- Presents a good mixture of families, couples, single people, widows/widowers in its team work
- The parish engages with most of the community
- Drawing parents, children and young families to church
- We have a good hardworking priest/ a priest who encourages parishioners to take part in events and in new ideas (2)
- Strives to improve and wants to make the church accessible to all
What could our Parish do better?
- Gatherings after Mass – refreshments etc; afternoon teas; a Lunch Club? (3)
- Get the hymn numbers correct on the board
- Instead of the same people bringing the Offertory week in week out – choose random people, especially families with children
- Make more effort to welcome new Parishioners
- New people need to be INVITED to join in
- Keep working on being positive and making friends
- Lacks good communication
- Needs to entice new believers and draw lapsed Catholics back to the fold (3)
- Advertise the church, services and activities in the community with leaflets
- Be more family friendly/more family events/family walks/more social events (4)
- Provide a ‘Drop In’ facility for the elderly
- Spend more money on choir facilities (e.g. microphones etc) (2)
- More support for choir, better congregational singing, sing louder! (3)
- Reach out to young people/ Encourage more young people (but not sure how) (3)
- Fulwood Free Methodists have a thriving community: what are they doing that we are not?
- Be even more welcoming (2)
- I attended Mass in the USA, and people shook hands before Mass commenced, exchanged names and said ‘something’ about themselves. I was astounded but thought it made the community more inclusive. Parishioners could be encouraged to ‘move around’ rather than sitting in the same seat week after week
- Sunday morning Mass: Could we involve more families in the Offertory as it is always the same people. Does it need a rota? Could we ask families or a group of individuals as they enter church if they would perform it that week?
- Sunday morning Mass: The singing is not the greatest, and unfortunately the choir is not strong enough to carry the congregation along. The Gloria is a challenge each week. I am not sure what the solution is other than to revert to the spoken word rather than singing. At Communion we struggle with the first hymn as the congregation process to receive Communion. Could we just have music playing as we process, and then have a hymn when we have all returned to the benches?
- To support the wider community could we encourage everyone to bring one item of non-perishable food for the Harvest Festival? This could result in a number of food parcels for distribution to the needy/SVP/food bank
- At Christmas we are encouraged as individuals to purchase CAFOD gifts. Perhaps arrange some fund raising events during Advent to purchase one of the larger gifts as a Parish
- Adult formation
- Bonding – lack of interaction with each other. Make more effort to welcome newcomers. Finding musicians for the overworked parish organists. Not enough modern hymns – now mainly for the young or older generation. Lack of coffee mornings. Occasional outdoor services to invite non-Christians. Finding out what is required in our community. Assisting our Parish Priest more. Encouraging us in our walk of Faith
- Improve the website – not user friendly, up to date or welcoming (2)
- More traditional hymns
- Youth pastorship – encourage them to stay and become integrated into the body of Christ. Teaching us the value of being a Catholic in an increasingly secular world. For us to welcome newcomers and be influential in their decision to stay
- Visiting the sick – not just SVP, but all of us/ young people to visit sick & lonely (with adult supervision) (2)
- (More) Spiritual input via talks and courses
- Parish meetings – 2 or 3 times a year?
- Some provision for young children (pre-school) who have difficulty engaging with Children’s Liturgy – perhaps some supervised group activity. Have seen this apparently working well at another (non-Catholic) Preston church
- What all parishes could be better at! For its parishioners to have a better understanding of how important we are to each other – that if we miss coming to our shared worship – The Mass – then our absence deprives the parish community
- Sing all hymns to the end.
- Re-instate Quarante Ore, occasional Benediction – important times of prayer (2)
- Open the church during daylight hours (3)
- We must reach out to the general community as they will not come to us. Many do not see religion as relevant, (so) this probably has to be done in a social way, rather than a praying way. As parishioners we must pray for the community, but I don’t know how you help people in general become interested in Faith.
- Getting back-sliders to attend Mass. Attracting those of a certain age into church. More parishioners to commit to helping out instead of leaving it to the few
- Do something for our whole community – e.g. raise money for hospital equipment/ have an annual parish charity (e.g. CAFOD, Christians Against Poverty)
- I would like it to become a hive of activity serving those in need – children, young people, senior citizens etc.
- Could Children’s Liturgy group do the readings at Mass? Arrange a liturgy?
- Younger Eucharistic Ministers?
- Treat young people as equals and trust them
- Charity car wash?
- Young people’s Environmental Action group?
- A Retreat Day open to all parish catechists, Eucharistic ministers, readers etc.
- (Quote) “A parish needs to be a supporting community before it can become a worshipping community”
Is there anything the Parish should NOT be doing?
- Talking loudly at the back of church before Mass. It is not conducive to prayerful preparation
- Wasting time, resources and funds
- Do not enter the political arena – unpopular
- Do not become static and insular
- Don’t give up!
- Do not revert to Latin as some Preston churches have
- Allowing our service to be sad and solemn – sometimes we need a happy clappy service to inspire and uplift us. Spiritual lethargy and stagnation. Taking God for granted and expecting instant fixes just because we believe
- Becoming stagnant and not changing with the times. Criticising, complaining, intimidating, and putting fear or guilt in our Faith as some churches do. Turning us off by dull routine in services (as happens in other churches)
- Hard to say, but just continue not offending anyone
- Long sermons – keep them brief and to the point
- Failing to tackle issues that confront the Church following negative publicity. Don’t ignore the needs of parishioners and community
Where do you see the Parish in 10 years time?
- More central to wider community life
- Will it still exist?
- Hopefully we will have grown in numbers/ hopefully still thriving (2)
- Connecting with all the different social groups in our community. Spreading solidarity and cohesion; love and living a Christ-like life; to flourish and grow; being a beacon.
- Being open to the public
- Hopefully blooming!
- Sadly – with even fewer parishioners and priests. I hope and pray this will not be the case
- Challenged. However, if the excellent leadership displayed by Fr Draper continues I believe it will continue to flourish
- I think St Anthony’s is a strong parish and there is a good age range, although we need to ensure we keep the youth involved
- Continuing to support vulnerable people and encouraging people to love God
- With a larger congregation
- Merged with Holy Family, but better for that. Involving different charisms
- Awakening and revival, becoming progressive and changing with the times. A living working church, taking it to another level with anointings, blessings, testimonies informing, performing and transforming lives. The Lord’s day being a special day, exclusive for worship bringing glory to God
- Joint parish with Holy Family. Struggling with falling attendances/income
- Developing a legacy for future generations that will last down the years. A Church that is alive, self-sufficient, working within Scripture. Bringing communities together, tackling poverty, loneliness, and the ills of society with Jesus as our motto
- I hope the opportunity of the Meeting Room can be realised in bringing the parish together and overcome the prospect of attendance continuing to fall
- Much closer links with Holy Family parish
- Hard to say, but just move with the times
- As thriving community with parishioners long ago having accepted and embraced the need for some church closures and parish mergers. (Perhaps) Holy Family and St Anthony’s will only have one church building, and our combined parishes may have to amalgamate with others. There will be a shortage of priests
- Lower congregations. Fewer priests, with perhaps 1 priest between 3 or 4 churches
- All depends on parish links and mergers etc. Still here though!
- Church life to take on a new meaning; growing in popularity; the glory of God ever-present; our faith enduring; a centre of excellence with Jesus at the centre of craft, learning, teaching; catering for the needs of our community and beyond
- To have all ages represented at all church activities
How can we, the Parish, support people in their relationship with God?
- Youth Group/Singles Group/Emotional Wellbeing Group
- Weekend groups so workers can attend
- All the suggestions [on the questionnaire] are good. Are there enough people willing and able to organise any of them? (2)
- To allow the truth of the Gospel to reach the next generation we need to meet them where they are, with their belief and unbelief, invite them in debate, to join with young people of faith who can motivate and influence them. We must also give them a say and an active part in the Parish. To improve our spiritual life we need more disciples and a better understanding of the Gospel (Study Group). Idea: a weekly or monthly theme of the Gospel on the notice board outlining Bible teaching for that particular week.
- More social/educational meetings
- Be there for when they need us, without preaching (at them)
- Maybe using the new parish room we could hold talks, events that may be accessible to a wider audience – like a Retreat Centre (Tabor for example). Try different things to attract a wider audience
- Very difficult question. I am not convinced that the Church realises the detrimental effect the constant ‘scandals’ and ‘revelations’ have on the everyday life of ordinary Catholics at work and within the community. However I do believe that the Parish should not shrink from the challenge
- A tough question to answer as my relationship with God is quite personal. If I needed support or guidance I would ask Father. Not sure I would be able to even know who non-attending Catholics are
- In regards to teenagers perhaps the parish should ask them what would help them/interest them when it comes to practising their Faith
- Family activities and outings perhaps?
- Masses organised by teenagers (e.g. readers, music, homily) (2)
- Invite teenagers to assist with Children’s Liturgy (as it was when first started) (2)
- First researching and finding out from our members and community at large the help they want in spiritual as well as everyday life, and carrying it out – where the need is greatest Faith moves God and much can be done: elderly, sick, lonely, help & advice with money problems, the Environment, Christian counselling, worship groups for provisions, courses, local missionary [work], food table, Bible courses, theology classes, talks, debates, discussions. For our youth: using social media to bring them in. All necessary in our journey of faith.
- Improve school involvement in services. Encourage parent participation. Active support of local causes and issues
- By following Christ’s commission of spreading the Gospel; going out into the community and taking care – widows, orphans, sick, old, infirm, homeless, prisoners, comforting the broken-hearted and protecting the weak, the vulnerable and the innocent. In so doing, we will be spreading the Kingdom of God. Be active and hands-on. Become a centre of learning. This is a lifelong process for all of us.
- (More) Spiritual input via talks and courses; Catholic basics for Adults courses (3)
- I have found the ‘Weeks of Guided Prayer’ offered by St Gregory’s parish helpful in the past, and would welcome something similar at St Anthony’s. I have heard the ‘Alpha Course’ highly recommended by participants
- Stronger links with school/parents
- Parishes used to have 2 or 3 day “missions” preached by a visiting priest/monk. This inspired existing parishioners and tended to draw in new faces
- Teenagers are not generally interested in formal church services, they are interested more in social action: helping the homeless, supporting the food bank. For existing parishioners – Lenten talks on the Sacraments, or discussions on aspects of Faith?
- Alpha course, Bible study (2)
- On-going formation of young people post-Children’s Liturgy
- Communicate with our youth through technology. Be able to explain the Gospel in a language we can understand. Those with the gift and talent to train and teach interested participants. Offer companionship, help, guidance and advice to anyone – food, clothing, housing. Provide transport for the disabled and elderly
- Find out what the existing parishioners’ talents are and go from there
- Prayer meetings, Bible study group to increase our knowledge and understanding of the scriptures, or following on from the Sunday sermons
- When young people have been asked their views in the past (e.g. ‘7 Up’ in 2007) they asked “Will anyone listen to us?” They wanted:
- to be accepted and involved in the church
- a church which was place of worship and which reached out to others
- music and liturgy which attracts them and their peers and which generates the enthusiasm they see lacking in older parishioners
Is PLG representative?
- Need members under age 30/members from various age ranges (teens, 20’s, 30’s etc) (2)
- Who are the PLG members? Introduce them to the congregation – we will then know them (2)
- Which groups do they represent?
- No – it needs to be more inclusive, for those who are unable to attend meetings
- Need younger people. Are there any Youth members? (3)
- People have been invited to join, which is good
- Not familiar enough with the organisation to comment
- Not 100% sure who they are
- Don’t seem to know what the group does. Are parishioners allowed/encouraged to attend the meetings?
- Probably not
- Not at present – only a selection (2)
- Yes – but always reliant on volunteers
- There is scope for the Leadership Group to make itself and its work better known
- Not entirely – some parishioners feel excluded
How can Parishioners be represented in decision making?
- By having consultations like this one (2)
- Seek opinions by email, suggestion box, questionnaires (3)
- You could ask us about big decisions. For the rest I am happy for you to make decisions
- Through PLG
- When PLG meets are there Minutes about what has been discussed and ideas shared that could be shared with everyone, requesting feedback (2)
- Would it be useful to have a Youth Leadership Group that meets and feeds into the Parish Leadership Group? The youth are our future and they need to have a say in what happens, what makes them get involved, and what can be started or done differently.
- Keep parishioners informed of developments/decisions
- Have informal opportunities to meet the PLG members – after Mass? (2)
- We need as many who are able – either hands on, or as silent partners – giving ideas, advice, direction on issues facing the Church, and improving/upgrading standards in our church planning, execution and appreciation
- Canvass opinion on issues/decisions
- All parishioners should be given the opportunity to share their opinions by whatever means available (emails, votes, questionnaires etc) so all can have a say
- Parish meetings – 2 or 3 times a year? Annually? (4)
- Open meetings?
- Voting I suppose
- The Group seems to operate effectively, and parishioners can make representations to a member of the Group
- Give all parishioners attending weekend Mass a voting form to be returned the following week – as and when required
- I think this is already being achieved
Have you any other comments?
- Perhaps a full list of Parish groups with names of contacts/representatives
- Regular bulletins of coming events; set up a Friends of St Anthony’s Group; partnership with other churches in the area; ecumenical groups, prayer teams, study groups. Use new building as a Drop In Centre
- Thank you!
- We are fortunate to have such fine musicians. I enjoy hearing and learning new hymns, but miss many of the ‘old favourites’ – Hail Saint Joseph, Faith of our Fathers etc.
- Keep the website up to date
- Prayer meetings in times of great need – e.g. disasters. Gathering together to worship. Eating together. Discipleship, witnessing for Jesus, leaflets with what’s on in the Parish, prayer requests, pop-up shops. Get togethers – weekly, monthly or quarterly. Workshops
- I would like to see a display on the history of our church (on St Anthony’s feast day?) – its developments and achievements; the priests who have served, social events etc. How we can donate more for its upkeep etc.
- The parish is well run. The extra work/responsibility the Parish Priest has in running two parishes is acknowledged. This must be quite a burden at times, and the work that Father does in this respect is much appreciated
- Children are the future of the Church. How and what they are taught should give them a good grounding in the Faith which will hopefully stay with them. It would be interesting (perhaps enlightening) for parishioners to be kept informed of the level and content of education in our parish schools. When I was a Governor we got periodic reports covering this
- Ensure we all know where the ‘extra’ hymn sheets are – its no good handing out Mass sheets without them. I usually attend Saturday evening, but after attending Sunday morning Mass I felt like a stranger in my own church, unable to join in with several of the hymns .. on the yellow sheet.
- Good to review (the Parish) every so often
- More fund-raising to get a mini-bus to transport elderly and disabled to church
- Local ministry
- Let’s vote for the name of the meeting room – from a shortlist
- We will need to recruit a lot of volunteers!
Suggested names for the new meeting room
- CAMEO Room (Come And Meet Each Other)
- SAP Community
- St Anthony’s Church Hall/Meeting Room (3)
- The Padua Room/Padua Place/The Pad (9)
- The Lighthouse
- The Rock
- Open Doors
- The Way
- Potters Room
- St John Newman Room (3)
- The Romero Room
- The Shepherd’s Room/The Good Shepherd (2)
- The Canon Geoghegan Room
- Unity/Unite (2)
- The Tent
- The Refuge
- The Providence Room
- Cadley Room
- The Sanctuary/St Anthony’s Sanctuary (2)
- Caris (Greek for Grace)
- Joshua Centre
- Omega Centre
- The Living Stone
- Logos Centre
- Bread of Life Centre
- Divine Provision Centre
- Zion House