SUNDAY 29th JUNE 2008

Fr. Tom, Fr. Damian and Aileen are still going strong.  They discuss weekly events and set up the various catechetical programmes that run annually in the Parish. Fr. McDade still comes every Sunday to take one or two Masses.

Fr. Thomas Parayadyil has been staying with us whilst serving as the Syro-Malabar chaplain to the Kerulan community.  Recently he has also had Fr. Joseph to assist him.  They work very hard, travelling all over the country and are rarely around at the weekends, although they do help with daily masses.  Fr. Jose has now gone home to India.

Fr. Damian offered House Masses on the Fridays of Lent and Advent, which attracted about 20 people at a time.  They were arranged so that they took place in different areas of the parish, and the idea was to invite your neighbours rather than your friends, who may not live in the immediate area.

Fr. Damian has been appointed as part time youth chaplain to the Diocese and spends one day a week at SPEC.  He will be joining the Westminster Group going to the World Youth Day in Australia.  One of our young parishioners, Elizabeth Coleman is also going, sponsored by the Catenians.

As ever the year has been punctuated by the usual events, which have all gone well and been praised by those present.  Bishop John Arnold came to confirm 30 teenagers and one adult and there were two First Communion services in May.  

There have been two Sacrament of the Sick Masses, which were well attended, and a Mass at the Catholic section of New Southgate cemetery.  There are special events in November to mark the month of the dead, which starts with a candle ceremony on 2nd November.

Fr. Tom and Fr. Damian presented more Holy Week talks and there were a series of discussions under the title, “Who is my Neighbour” during Lent.  

We are suffering from a severe loss of Mass books.  Those for the first six months of this year disappeared at an alarming rate.  Amnesties help, but not much.  We are unable to replace them as the content is due to change soon, and so it is not worth doing it before then.

We have about 35 servers at the moment and 14 were enrolled in the Guild of St. Stephen in March.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament took place during Advent and Lent on Sunday afternoons and was very popular.

Also growing successfully this year have been the Mother’s Prayer Group and the use of the Prayer Intentions book.  We have started a Knights of St. Columba Group in this parish, which has already arranged a trip to Aylesford and is to hold a Quiz Night in July.

We are always looking for ways how we, as a parish, can promulgate the gospel of life, particularly in the light of the recent voting down in Parliament of any restrictions to abortion and the allowal of animal/human hybrids.

Any suggestions or contacts for speakers to come to the parish would be most welcome.

The roof has been completely retiled and windows and eaves have been painted.

There is a project to purchase new pews so that the church is properly furnished for the first time in it’s history.  A sample pew has been placed at the back of the church since February.

The interior of the church and hall are due to be painted in the next couple of weeks.  We also need to look at recarpeting the sanctuary, erecting a pulley to cover the statue during Holy Week and lowering the light fittings to make it easier to change light bulbs, whilst scaffolding is in place.

The website has been up and running for about eight months.  The newsletter is posted weekly and other items are placed on it for viewing.  A monthly tally is kept of visitors to the site – latest figures are 70+ visits per day.  Some old pictures of the parish have been uploaded and can be viewed on the site.  New content is always welcome and might bring some light and shade to the site.  Elizabeth Coleman has offered to post local colour from Sydney during the World Youth Visit.

Although the Parish is in good shape, thanks to the generosity and commitment of our parishioners, many of whom have made single donations as well as weekly offerings, we do need to keep in mind that repairs and renewals need to be anticipated and paid for.

We can raise a lot of extra money by encouraging parishioners to Gift Aid their offerings.  This means that they have to either pay through the Planned Giving envelopes, or take out a Standing Order with the bank so that we can calculate the amount they have paid tax on.  It would be a great help generally if people could be encouraged to donate via the bank.

There was a successful Christmas Draw with fewer, but better, prizes than usual.

The Parish held a celebratory Dinner Dance at Penridge in February for the 150th Anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes.  This went very well with about 200 people in attendance and some sought after raffle prizes which were auctioned.  Well done and many thanks to Fr. Damian, Cecilia and Marianne, who worked extremely hard on the dance.  Although it wasn’t an aim of the event, there was a significant amount raised on the night thanks largely to the auction.

There are a number of fund-raising events planned for the future – all events will publicise their aims before the event takes place.

There have been some extremely generous gifts to the Parish for our fund raising projects from individuals.

We have been asked why we don’t use some of our funds to donate to charity.  There is a problem with this: as a charity ourselves we are not supposed to give money, given to us, to a third party.  There is nothing to stop us, or other individuals holding charitable events at which their aims are clearly stated.

There is a monthly Fair Trade stall in the hall, which has been going well, and should be making a profit soon.  Proceeds will got to Cafod when there are any.

Kolbe’s Gift was performed in the Hall last September.  As we were a last minute replacement for another venue, we were allowed to split the proceeds.

Hall Hire for Private Parties.  Over the years there have been many adjustments to the terms and conditions for using the Hall.  Each time a user abuses the rules changes are made, which are not always fair on subsequent users.  Currently there is a departing time of 9.30 pm, which should mean the Hall is clear by 10 pm.  The kitchen cupboards are locked because people were using plates and not washing them up properly.  Regular users are informed where the key is kept.  Tables and chairs are not put back correctly despite notices on the walls.  Hall hire times were changed to avoid Mass time after a volunteer in the paper shop was verbally attacked because cars had been blocked in by people coming to Mass.  The Small Hall is no longer available to hire because people spilt food and drink in it.  The Hall is not always cleaned up.  One hirer moved the piano and made a mark on the floor.  Doors are not closed, which sets off the alarm if the wind catches them in the night.

It is not the wish of the Parish Council to prevent parishioners from using the Hall, but neither is the Hall a function room and the revenue raised from these parties is not worth the hassle and ill-feeling that is left behind.

Children’s parties and parish events are not affected by these problems.

Regular users have been asked to make sure they leave the hall, and the toilets clean when they leave.

The Hall is used all the time now, and potential regular users are being turned away as there is not the availability to accommodate them.

The Hall was subject to a fire inspection this year, and the inspector said it was the cleanest hall he’d ever seen!  Many thanks to Cecilia and all the other parishioners who do so much to keep the Hall looking good for the rest of us.

St. Paul’s Carol Service was a joint event with our choir as usual.  It was the usual delightful mix of carols and readings and an acknowledged “curtain raiser” to the Christmas festivities.

Compass is now in colour and costs more to produce, which is a very good reason for making sure that parishioners read it each month.

There has been another round of checks this year, which included readers.  Some of them did not really understand why it should as they are never alone with any children in this capacity.  In the end the Parish Council agreed that they would not be obliged to return the forms.  

There have been one or two disturbing events this year.  A pane of glass in the church was broken, and a man was found trying to get into the church safe.  Occasionally it appears that people have spent the night in the Hall.  Strenuous efforts are made to ensure the security of the church and the priests, which is not helped if Hall users leave the doors open.  Hall users are encouraged to keep an eye on the main door when they are in the Main Hall.

Each year the priests devote a couple of session to completing forms for parishioners hoping to attend both primary and secondary schools in the area.  Sometimes it can feel like a pointless task as the Government, together with the Diocese, are not making it easy for priests to get good parishioners into local schools.


Four people were received into the church at Easter.
First Holy Communion – 54 children
Confirmation – 30 teenagers and one adult

Statistics from our 2007 Return
Baptisms – 45
Weddings – 9
Funerals – 40
Mass attendance for October 07 = 1445, slightly up on last year.