Gerard Barden (chair), Fr Tom Egan, Cecilia Webb, Clyde Webb, Maureen Molloy, Edoardo Albert, Ramon Landi, Doff Landi, Melvin Lewis, Felicity Brown, John Donnelly, Clare McCarthy and Greg Howard (minutes)

Apologies were received from Kathy Wurr and Sean Carroll

Opening prayer
Fr Tom led the meeting in the opening prayer
Minutes of Annual General Meeting May 2015 and matters arising
Further to the item in the minutes under the heading Any other business, Maureen said that the choir has new chairs. The minutes were otherwise agreed.

Annual and financial Reports   
Gerard had prepared a report on the activities of the parish over the past year, a copy of which was made available to everyone attending the meeting. Some of the main points covered were as follows:

He welcomed Fr Vincenzo Santarcangelo, who joined the parish in September 2015, following Fr Martin Tate's move to Welwyn Garden City.

Patrick Bolger, who chaired the parish's finance committee, has moved away from the parish. A note has been published in the newsletter inviting applications for a new chairman and committee members to fill the vacancy. Gerard said that Brian Hunt will continue as the parish's accountant, and thanked everyone involved in the organisation of the various groups connected with the parish.
The parish organised pilgrimages to Belgium, The Holy Land, Walsingham and Lourdes in 2015/16, and further pilgrimages are planned for 2016/17.

The report set out some of the repairs and improvements carried out during 2015/16, including the replacement of the main doors to the church, and the fitting of a projector and screen so that services can be shown in the church hall. The projector was used for the family Christmas Eve service. People who could not get into the church were able to follow the service on the screen in the hall, rather than having to stand in the car park. Services are also now streamed live over the internet.

Planned projects for 2016/17 include the repointing of the rear walls of the presbytery to prevent damp entering the sacristy. The parish will continue to update policies to meet health and safety requirements.

Nearly £21,000 was raised by the parish for a variety of good causes, including CAFOD, The Passage and the Catholic Children's Society.

It is hoped that the parish's new website will be launched by the end of June 2016.

The big hall is well-used by a variety of groups, including parent and toddler, the beavers, brownies and cubs. The scout group is now 45 years old, having been first registered in May 1971. The current cub leader, Jane Landi, has been involved with the pack for 35 years, and will be greatly missed when she retires this summer.

Our Lady of Lourdes School continues to excel academically, musically and in sports, and prepares children well for secondary school transfer.

The report included some statistics covering the calendar year 2015, showing that average mass attendance, and the numbers of funerals, weddings, confirmations, First Holy Communions, receptions and baptisms, have been fairly stable.

Brian Hunt was unable to attend the meeting. However, he had provided a summary of financial statements setting out the parish's current financial situation, a copy of which was supplied to everyone in attendance. Gerard pointed out that parish expenditure had been stable over the last two calendar years - £260,724 in 2015 and £259,686 in 2014. Meanwhile, the parish's annual income has steadily been rising over the last few years - from £280, 137 in 2012 to £317, 159 in 2015. The parish's bank balance stood at £470,885 at the end of 2015 - a sharp increase on the previous year. The parish is in a healthy financial situation.

Gerard noted the success of the parish's efforts to encourage parishioners to make their donations by direct debit from their bank accounts - this makes it easier for the parish to claim a further percentage donated in gift aid from the government. It is also possible for the parish to claim gift aid on sums donated by the envelope scheme. Offertories were marginally down (£178,905 in 2015, as opposed to £180,289 in 2014), but the parish's income from tax refunds rose by over a quarter - £24,496 in 2015, as opposed to £18,210 in 2014. The parish is also able to use the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme to claim 'top up' payments on small cash donations.

The parish was given £26,000 from the Growing in Faith fund by the diocese. In response to a question from Edoardo, Gerard confirmed that this was a one-off payment.

There was some discussion of the importance of managing our donations securely - the donation of money by direct debit makes this more straightforward.

Gerard concluded by thanking everyone on behalf of the parish council for all the work they do to keep the parish running. He also said that there was a need for a recruitment drive to ensure a supply of fresh ideas.

Address by Father Tom
Fr Tom also thanked all those present for all that they do for the parish, and for their support for the clergy, which he said really makes a difference.

Fr Tom said that in 2017, he will have been a priest for fifty years, and have been at our Lady of Lourdes, New Southgate, for seventeen. In the summer of 2017, he will be retiring. He added that since 1923, there have only been five parish priests at Our Lady of Lourdes, and that he has had a great experience here - very rewarding.

Fr Tom spoke about the Year of Mercy, which was announced by Pope Francis in March 2015, and will run until 20 November 2016. He said that Caritas now have offices at Our Lady of Lourdes, Ten Ten Theatre having moved to Muswell Hill. Caritas run the parish drop in centre, which takes place every Wednesday from 1030 until 1pm in the hall.   Fr Tom also referred to the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, which regularly takes place before 8am mass on a Thursday (and which took place more frequently during Lent) and to the Lent talks which were run by the Parish.

Ramon suggested the possibility that the new flats currently being built in the locality will affect the parish. Fr Tom said that a lot of new people move into the parish and keep numbers up, and that we must all make an effort to encourage new entrants, as it is easy to lapse. There is a feeling among some people that it is not necessary to attend church, and it can be hard to persuade lapsed people to come back. In some cases, after their last child is confirmed, families are not seen at the church again.

Gerard said that he would stand again as chairman, and that Brian Hunt, who was not present at the meeting, would be willing to continue as treasurer.  

Greg said that he would stand again as secretary.

Melvin was nominated by Edoardo, and seconded by Gerard, to be a member of the parish council and the parish's finance committee.

There was no opposition to any of these nominations.  

Fr Tom said that he has had enquiries from three separate people about the role previously performed by Pat Bolger. 

Evangelisation and prayer
This topic was covered briefly in the meeting, and in greater detail in the parish's annual report. Major points included:

The First Holy Communion and confirmation courses have been delivered – candidates made their First Holy Communion and confirmation earlier this month.
The report also described events and celebrations to mark Advent and Christmas 2015, and Lent and Easter 2016.

Any other business
Felicity addressed the meeting in connection with her role as the parish’s ecumenical coordinator. She said that:

There was a good turn-out at the Stations of the Cross, organised by Churches Together during Lent
Felicity herself read one of the readings at the Churches Together service during the Week of Christian Unity
She added that she went to Lent talks at churches other than Our Lady of Lourdes, and strongly encouraged more people to come to Churches Together events. She also mentioned that Churches Together has a new chairman – Fr Gregory Platten, of All Saints, Friern Barnet.
Fr Tom reminded parishioners of the importance of replacing the tables in the Hall the right way round. If they are replaced the wrong way round, they can collapse on top of you. The wording of the notice in the Hall by the tables has been changed.
Fr Tom also said that the streaming to the internet of funerals and weddings held in the church is much appreciated by those who are unable to attend the service.
Edoardo mentioned that a new couple will be assisting with the marriage preparation course. Tony and Margaret O’Byrne also assist in the running of the course.
The meeting concluded with a prayer.