29th October 2023


Last Saturday, we had our Parish Thinking Day. There were about 40 people in attendance and I was delighted to see that there was a good cross-section from both churches. I know more would have been present if they were able. Speaking for myself, it was a strong, inspiring day and I am excited about my future ministry in this neck of the woods.

The meeting was asked if they wished me to press ahead with a letter to the Bishop asking him to formally amalgamate the 2 parishes. After some discussion and reminder of the salient points which I outlined to you at Mass and in the bulletin back in early September, I was instructed to write the letter to Bishop Stock. It went off on Thursday to await his return from Rome. I’d like to thank all those people who took the time to make their thoughts known; the comments were all positive. This has inspired me because it shows me I am ministering in a community that honours the past, is naturally sad about the way things have tumbled in recent years but is still looking towards its future mission in the district. I shall keep you posted when I hear something from the Bishop.

I also asked the meeting to consider what I should do in respect of the Saturday Vigil Masses. I am confident that Mass attendance will increase, but even were it to double it would not justify 4 Sunday Masses for a parish this size, especially when every parish we border on to has a vigil Mass. We need to be realistic. My first responsibility is to our parish, but with the shortage of priests I need to be available to provide emergency cover for priests who are ill or away. I can’t do that on a Saturday evening or Sunday morning. I know why we have the set-up currently in operation and I would have set-up something of the same some years ago. But now, it’s simply not sustainable. The Sunday morning Mass attendances are relatively strong and I don’t want to fiddle around with them but one of the vigil Masses will have to go. So, I’m asking you, what would you do if you were in my position? I haven’t made any decisions as yet and I’m asking because you might see a way of approaching this that I’ve missed. Obviously, I will have to make the final decision (which will need the Bishop’s approval) but I want all the help I can get to make that decision. Email me, write to me, talk to me. (I’m interested to hear YOUR opinions, not ‘what other people are saying’. If they can’t address me themselves, I’m not interested.) Remember, this isn’t the end of the world; it’s not a disaster. Those adjectives are real and applicable to families across the Holy Land and elsewhere. Our situation is an inconvenience and ‘a bit sad’. Let’s keep discussion mature, befitting of our Christianity and in its proper context, please. We’ll take the month of November to chew this over. We could do a lot worse than to pray to the great heroes of Faith who have had to make much tougher decisions before us.

Last laugh: Michael Parkinson: What does your doctor think about you smoking and drinking at your great age? George Burns: My doctor? My doctor’s dead!

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