ST THOMAS OF CANTERBURY CATHOLIC PARISH
Good afternoon everyone and welcome to our 2019 Parish Annual General Meeting. I want to give you a brief overview of key things we have achieved in the last 18 months as a Parish since out last AGM.
Firstly though a few thank yous:
(a) Thank you
TO everyone who attends our parish church and to all who play such an important part in contributing to its success as a community of worship. I specifically wanted to mention:
- Deacon David for his consistent and helpful ever-present support;
- George who always gives great encouragement and support and is now happily resident in St Peter’s Residence in Vauxhall;
- Sylvester for coming to us in August 2018 from his home in Nigeria and making himself such a loved and respected member of our community;
- Fr Daniel – who left us in June 2018 but gave so much to this parish during his time here and leaves a wonderful legacy in the Pub and Prayer Group that continue to meet;
- Eucharistic Ministers who visit the sick and housebound and unfailingly support the priest at all our Masses;
- Linda Scott who gives such committed, professional and valuable service to the parish as its secretary and administrator;
- Joan Blows for acting as Linda’s deputy covering the desk if needed and for her tireless work in the archives;
- Andrzej and Jola for their loyal, ongoing and valuable work in the church, Hall and Presbytery;
- the Parish Council – set up in March 2018 – who’s leadership in partnership with the priests helps to develop the mission of Christ in Canterbury;
- the Finance Committee who conscientiously and professionally manage the finance of the parish. THANK YOU
(b) Sign’s of fulfilling Christ’s Mission in our Parish
In 2018 we celebrated:
- 5 people into our faith community through the RCIA programme
- 32 new members through the sacrament of baptism
- 30 children made their First Holy Communion
- 25 young people confirmed their faith through the sacrament of Confirmation
- 8 weddings were occasions of great joy and I did the paperwork for many more couples who were married in other parishes
- 39 funerals said goodbye to loved members of our community
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament three times a week in the Church provides a needed and sacred space and silence for our spiritual reflection and growth as God’s people.
Our Parish Ministries continue to thrive as the Parish Directory shows – thank you to all who lead and support these vital parts of our community life.
Our Schools – St Thomas Primary School and St Anselm’s Secondary remain places of high quality education but also places where the faith is nurtured and developed in our future.
Your generosity in all the collections we have continues to be great – and in particular the second collections we have to support such wonderful services such as Catholic Fund For Overseas Developement and our own St Vincent de Paul Society.
We continue to welcome many, many visitors from all over the globe (as the visitor’s book testifies) – we are definitely a place of pilgrimage as well as a community parish.
Our diversity is seen in the special Masses hosted once a month for our parishioners in the Polish, Philippine and Syro-Malabar communities. It is notes that the Syro-Malabar community now have a Saturday evening Mass every week at St Finbarra’s Aylesham. As a consequence we might see less of this community joining us at the weekends..
(c) Special Events
Our Open Air Mass in July 2018 was a wonderful occasions – blessed by the weather and a great feeling of coming together to praise God as one community.
The Annual HCPT Pilgrimage to Lourdes – organised devotedly as ever by Annie Judge – was successfully run in August 2018.
Two members of our Church – Fiona Gault and Steve Williams – attended the Adoremus Conference for us in September 2018 and gave us feedback one evening that provoked thought and debate.
Our patronal commemorations of St Thomas of Canterbury through the Translation Mass on 7th July. The main celebrant this year was Bishop Nicolas Hudson who was an assistant priest here and the Feast Day on 29th December.
Fundraising through quiz nights, raffles and other social occasions throughout the year has brought us together as a Parish as well as raised much needed funds. I would like to thank the social committee for their planning and enthusiasm
Early in 2018 our Musical Director Ben Saul arranged for classical concerts to be performed each Saturday morning in the Hall where we were treated to a varied and highly professional array of young musical talent.
We had a very popular Opera night earlier this year
I won’t say much here as our Finance committee gave a brief talk at Masses in January and circulated further details on the current state of our finances. Just to say it is going to be a challenging year for us as our Diocesan Development Fund contribution has unexpectedly increased by £8000 and all our charges have gone up – usually over and above the rate of inflation. The Finance committee are doing all they can to manage the situation and thank you for all you continue to contribute.
(e) the Future
Looking Forward to the coming year..
- we have 42 children preparing for First Holy Communion. There are two adults to be received into the Church at Easter, two adults to be confirmed and one person to be fully initiated. There are twentytwo young people being confirmed in June by Archbishop Peter. Many thanks to all the dedicated catechists who have made this possible.
- the Parish Holy Land Pilgrimage in November 2019 – a pilgrimage tour to which all are welcome;
- The HCPT Pilgrimage to Lourdes will hopefully take place in October.
- Our OpenAir Mass will be held on 30th June at St Anselm’s School and our Translation Mass on 7th July, which this year falls on a Sunday and the Feast Day on 29th December in the Cathedral;
- Lenten reflections are starting on Tuesday 26th March at 7.30pm on the Pope’s letter on spirituality – Gaudete et Exsultate in the Hall; and on Tuesday 2nd April we are having an evening entitled, “Global Healing,” A film presentation responding to the Popes letter: “Laudato Si on April 2nd.
- There are areas of the parish life that really need developing. One is our Sunday Liturgy. It is the one day when we gather together as one family albeit over five Masses. Last year the average attendance over the weekend was 755. Our celebration of the Sunday liturgy should always be the best that it can be. The reason I wrote about various aspects of the Liturgy in the newsletter at the beginning of the year was to help us reflect on the ways we do things. Do we celebrate Sunday as if it is the source and summit of our life? Thank you to our Readers, Eucharistic Ministers, Servers, Sacristans, Welcomers, Choir and musicians and flower arrangers who contribute in different ways. Echoing the liturgy constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, which taught that the liturgy is the font and summit of all the Church’s life, Pope Francis told the assembly that “the liturgy is in fact the main road through which Christian life passes through every phase of its growth. You therefore have before you a great and beautiful task: to work so that the People of God may rediscover the beauty of meeting the Lord in the celebration of His mysteries.”
- Adult Education: Alpha and Life in the Spirit
- Justice and peace issues.
- Mission or Maintenance, Fishers of Men or keepers of Aqariums.
(f) The Buildings
The Finance Committee are working on an affordable and sustainable programme of ongoing maintenance and repairs for the church, hall and Presbytery. The buildings have not had a regular programme of upkeep for many years and we are putting right much that has been left for some time.
Our biggest project is the re-ordering of the Narthex. The plans for this have been passed by the Archdiocese Art & Architecture Committee and we are now in the process of organising the tendering for the work and the finance.