NOTES FROM THE PARISH ASSEMBLY

November 18th 2022

PARISH ASSEMBLY NOTES,   13TH NOVEMBER 2022

Present:   Fr Dermot Morrin (in the chair), Fr Matthew Jarvis, Fr Albert Robertson, 9am Mass: 6 parishioners, 10am Mass: 9 parishioners, 12 am Mass: 17 parishioners

(As this document is available on the internet, this version does not include the names of parishioners; names of proposers and other speakers have been noted elsewhere.)

  1. 10 O’CLOCK MASS
  2. Could the children’s liturgy at the 10 o’clock Mass be integrated into the Mass (at least for the older children) on the 2ndSunday of each month?

15-20 children of differing ages attend the Children’s Liturgy on a regular basis. The average age is about 6-7, but there are younger and older children. There is a coherent strategy- it is a Liturgy of the Word for Children, and not a playgroup. They leave at the Opening Collect of the Mass and come back for the Offertory. But there’s a danger of them feeling side-lined, especially the older ones.

It’s important to get a balance between children going out and children experiencing the Mass. Could there be a Family Mass once a month in which the older children might read, and the sermon be directed at them?  Fr Dermot said that this can certainly be done, and suggested that we begin on the First Sunday of Advent which is 27th November.  We just need to co-ordinate with the person who does the rota for readers. The celebrant should preach with them in mind.  It was suggested that more older children could join the altar servers.

It was pointed out how good it is if teenagers feel included and don’t feel they are being talked down to.

  1. Organist at the 10

There is now an organist who plays the organ every second week at the 12, who is available also to play at the 10 on some Sundays.   It was suggested that we might approach the School of Music to find out if there are music students who might be interested in playing.

  1. PARISH PROJECT

Fr Dermot reported that for a number of years we took the Mercy Project as our Advent Project, but it is not really up and running at the moment. He asked if anyone had other projects to propose for the Parish to support, as has happened in the past. Examples include 500 Miles, and a Parish in Peru.  The Peruvian project had raised £10,000 for that parish’s needs and had had a lasting impact.  The recent pattern has been to support a local project in Advent and one from abroad in Lent.     It was reported that the parish Justice and Peace Group had proposed having an international project in Advent and a local one in Lent this year, because plans are underway for an Archdiocesan J&P-linked supermarket vouchers project.  It is not yet up and running, but is likely to be working in time for Lent. The parish J&P Group were proposing that someone come and talk to us about the project once it is ready for support, probably in January or February. In the meantime, the parish J&P Group had discussed that the Parish might take on SCIAF’s appeal for the provision of wells in other countries as our Advent Project.

The Scottish Refugee Council was also proposed as a local project, and the needs of Ukrainian refugees were also mentioned. It was mentioned that there will be a talk on the experience of Ukrainian women refugees organised by the parish J&P group on Monday 14thNovember.

It was agreed that this Advent we would go with the SCIAF project which helps with the provision of deep wells in Southern Ethiopia where drought has been ongoing for decades.  We will consider the possibilities for local projects for Lent.

  1. SERMONS ON THE WEBSITE

It was proposed that celebrants publish their sermons on the parish website, as this would be a good catechetical opportunity.    Fr Dermotargued that sermons are of the moment, particular to a Mass congregation, a time and place, are sometimes unwritten and if they go on the website they are there forever and available to anyone.   It would take a lot of time to prepare them for publication on the internet, which would not be the best use of pastoral time. Fr Albert pointed out that all Dominican theological publications need to be run past a provincially-designated censor.  Fr Dermot noted that there are weekly Dominican sermons available on Torch: Torch Archives – The Dominican Friars in Britain (op.org)  Sermons are also available most days via the recorded Masses on the Church Services site.  In support of Fr Dermot’s reluctance, others present drew parallels with similar issues around academics being asked to share their lectures or professional musicians making recordings of their music available.

  1. GARDEN AND BASEMENT AREA

Fr Dermot pointed out that the garden and the garden room both need some more care and attention- there are cracked tiles on the floor, and the garden path needs improving. It floods, and better lighting is needed. Inside, there is a problem with sound reverberating in the Garden Room, and the area near the noticeboard is not currently used as was originally intended.  He said that the friars would like to commission a proper statue of St Dominic for the garden. He thought a group might be formed to look at this, and was asking for volunteers.

A parishioner who has experience of working on housing for the Council proposed that a survey should be done of how parishioners and students use the space, and what they think the problems are, before commissioning anything.   It was suggested wall-hangings in the Garden Room would address the sound problem.

It was agreed that volunteers should be sought from among St Albert’s parishioners to be looked for to join groups who could advise on these projects. Fr Dermot will follow this up in due course.

  1. A PARISH COUNCIL?

Two people had proposed this. One proposer said that she had had an excellent experience in her previous parish of being part of a Parish Council. This Council had done a great deal of the running of the parish.  The parish priest had attended meetings, and had told them if anything was not possible.  She noted that a Parish Council could act as a kind of hinge between the laity and the priests- it could oversee projects and other committees (e.g. the Justice and Peace Group), and act as liaison between the different Mass groups. Fr Dermotresponded that while he knew of some very good parish councils, his experience was that that ongoing parish councils, as opposed to groups which form for a particular task or period, tend to run out of steam and can actually become a barrier to lay engagement with priests rather than facilitating it.  He noted that the extremely successful KTDO project had been a moment when some parishioners had put enormous work in precisely on the proviso that it was for a limited period.

A lot of the ensuing discussion focused on community in the parish, and what would be the best way to build it up.  It was argued that many parishioners don’t really know each other and consequently the parish was not yet enough of a community for a parish council that really represented everyone.  There was a danger it wouldn’t really be representative if it were formed now. People noted that a lot of the community revolves specifically around the individual Masses, and in particular coffee after Mass.   Some thought that this was an argument for a Council to bring the Masses together, others thought it showed a Council was not needed. It was argued that if it is intended that coffee after the Masses be the main place where community-building happens, this should be made explicit.  It was argued that events were the best way to generate community, so we should start with those.  Further to these points it was suggested that we need to articulate to ourselves that we are not (yet) enough of a community, and push towards becoming more of a community. It was suggested that a person at each Mass could be designated as someone who would make an announcement about community and coffee and other community-building events. Someone raised that Fr Dermot had pushed the 40 hours, and argued that we need more announcements with that level of “push”. Fr Dermot noted that there might be something of a law of diminishing returns on this, and so that what was announced would be taken more seriously he only pushed a very few things. Somebody else noted that a lot of people don’t really read the newsletter announcements, and so miss things they later regret. Fr Dermot thought the discussion showed that Parish Assemblies were really a better way of building community than a Parish Council, at least at this point. He admitted that they haven’t been regular enough.  He suggested that we have another Parish Assembly in the last week in January. There was some discussion of when to have it- the same time (Sunday after the 12 o’clock Mass) or some evening?  He suggested Monday evenings, but the feeling seemed to be that Sunday afternoons would be better attended. Fr Matthew made the point that the Council/Assembly question was really one of scale: the parish council model as articulated  worked very well for a large parish with only one priest, but as this is a small parish with a number of priests, there wasn’t really a need for a hinge between the priests and the people: he would hope that people would feel they could talk to the priests face to face.

  1. SOCIAL EVENTS

There were two main suggestions:  a general suggestion of ‘More parties’, and a more specific one which was to hire a hall and have an Irish Night, e.g. around St Patrick’s Day, drawing on the many traditional musicians in the parish. This event could be followed by a Spanish Night or other such events by self-identified cultural groups in the parish as appropriate. It was argued thought it should not be in a hall, but should be in the smaller more intimate scale of the Garden Room, which is more in keeping with a traditional Irish ceilidh.  One musician argued it should be a ‘high-brow’ event, not everyone taking turns to sing “Molly Malone” etc. She suggested several parishioners who she knew could be called upon to participate.   Fr Matthew offered to play the flute at the event and this was enthusiastically received.

Fr Dermot thought it should be sooner than St Patrick’s night- it could be thought of as in the tradition of Arthur Skelton’s ‘Winter Warm’ events for KTDO.

A small committee volunteered to take this on.

  1. KNEELERS

Some of the kneelers bang down unexpectedly when the adjacent kneeler is lowered. Fr Dermot said that this was a maintenance issue and the matter was in hand.

  1. PARISH-WIDE EVENTS

This was a request for one event where the different groups and ages would come together.  Perhaps this could be a parish-wide discussion event, centred on a topic relevant to Catholic practice in our time and place.

One parishioner, in proposing the topic, said cradle Catholics like himself could sometimes have a narrow view of what of is theologically possible. He was keen to get speakers from outside who think outside the box. He mentioned Timothy Radcliffe, Richard Rohr and Lawrence Freeman. He felt that we needed to become better at disagreeing without being disagreeable!   Fr Dermot noted that this tied in with general requests for adult catechesis or apologetics which had already been voiced. He noted that students would also be keen for this. There was a thirst for discussion of our faith, and for readying ourselves better to give an account of the ground of our hope to others who might question us.

Someone proposed more discussion of the topics we haven’t been able to explain clearly to our children.   One parishioner noted how lonely the practice of the faith can be to those whose families aren’t Catholic or don’t practice their Catholicism, and thought it would be helpful to share how prayer had helped her in that situation. She also wanted us to address the question of what we want from coming to St Albert’s, and how we can meet our desire to continue to practice the faith and pass it on.   Somebody else noted that non-Catholic spouses and children might be hostile or might be supportive, but they all have questions which it would be good to be able to address.  Fr Albert noted that the topic of community and discipleship had come up frequently in the meeting, and recognised a thirst to combine social sharing with faith-sharing. There was a student group for such questions, but that group was more focused on formation. Fr Dermot thought a group meeting to share faith might be the way of addressing this. Fr Matthew proposed an evening event when people would talk about prayer.   Someone said that we also need to support one another more in our faith as individuals. She asked if there could be a theme for detailed study.   It was agreed that Frs Dermot, Matthew and Albert would discuss ways of facilitating this at their next meeting and make some proposals.

  1. PRAYER

Following the recent positive experience of the 40 hours devotion, it was proposed that this happen again, perhaps once a year.  Also a Taizéstyle evening was proposed, and a period of adoration before the 12 Mass.

Fr Dermot noted that exposition before the 12 o’clock Mass on Sundays was not really practical, given the activity happening in the Chapel after 10 O’ Clock Mass and before 12.   He proposed that there be exposition after the 12 o’clock Mass continuing until the student Mass at 7pm on the first Sundays of Advent and Lent.

Wed 14th Dec was suggested for a Taizé style evening. Once again, Fr Matthew agreed to play the flute.

  1. ADULT CAECHESIS/ POSSIBLE RETREAT

Fr Dermot said that his had largely been covered under the previous discussion. Somebody asked what was meant by the phrase ‘unschooled Catholics’ which had been in the proposal?  Fr Dermot said that his interpretation was Catholics who might not feel confident about their knowledge of the faith. He noted that the last time he had organised a parish retreat, led by one of the monks of Pluscarden, only 6 people came, so he wasn’t keen to bring another outside retreat-giver. We agreed the previous discussions had covered the topic adequately.

The meeting closed with a prayer and Fr Dermot thanked everyone for their contributions and for giving up their afternoon to take part.

NOTES FROM THE PARISH ASSEMBLY

Edinburgh Catholic Chaplaincy

The Catholic Chaplaincy serves the students and staff of the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University.

The Catholic Chaplaincy is also a parish of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh (the Parish of St Albert the Great) and all Catholic students and staff are automatically members of this parish.

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