All posts by Margaret Doyle

Financial Briefing to the Parish

This time last year I was reporting on a financially stable year. However, this year has been more challenging with our balances about to be at their lowest level for some years.

We are not in serious trouble and your generosity continues at its usual high level. The issue is that we have had, and continue to have, a year of unusually high expenditure in maintaining the fabric of our beautiful church.

I think it is worth looking at the major items:

  • Boundary Wall  £25K 
  • Electrical Repairs £5K
  • Passage Lights Upgrade £5k
  • Drains Repair £4K
  • New Sound system £2K


Within the last few days we have been notified that the cost of upgrading the Presbytery Fire Alarms for multi occupancy will be at least £10K. This upgrade is a mandatory requirement as we want to be able to continue having visiting priests and religious to live in the Presbytery and be part of our community.

This work will take place over the next few weeks.

This gives a total of about £50K and it is this which has depleted our balances to the predicted level of £14K in the current account and £30K in our deposit account. In our experience the age and condition of our church and the possible need for urgent repairs requires that these predicted balances are the minimum acceptable level. The balances I reported a year ago were £22K and £63K respectively – this is a drop of £41K.

In addition we have one big project waiting in the wings. This is the repair to the presbytery stonework, this will be a six-figure sum, a challenge for future years.

In the year ahead we need to rebuild our balances and develop a strategy to raise the £100K for the stonework. I know we can depend on your continued generosity and a special thanks to those of you in the Gift Aid scheme. This raised nearly £10k in the last year. If you are a taxpayer and have not joined the scheme I would encourage you to do so; it is not too bureaucratic and all personal date is protected. Please see Andy Doyle or check our website to see how to join.

In addition, if you have a standing order with the Parish, it may be worthwhile to see if it has been de-valued in any way by inflation over the years.

 Also, as you know, under the diocesan development programme, ‘Forward Together in Hope’ we have started to work more closely in partnership with neighbouring parishes. A Partnership Finance Committee continues to operate with an annual budget of £5K for which our contribution will be £950 per year, based on an affordability calculation as specified by the Diocese. As well as giving financial advice to the Partnership, this committee reviews any project above £10k and advises the Diocese as to whether a project fits in the overall needs of the partnership. This is particularly important right now because of the ongoing property review by all members of our Partnership. The year ahead will see these new processes continuing to unfold and become an important part of our Parochial life.

In conclusion, the year ahead will present us with continuing financial challenges and more changes as we work within the new Partnership framework. I feel sure that your continuing generosity will see us through.

John Marsland

Chairman of the Parish Finance Council

November 2019

Day of Reflection

The next Day of Reflection at Ushaw, with Sr Rosarie Spence RSM, will be on Wednesday 27th November, 10.30 am – 3.30 pm

An opportunity to step aside, experience different ways of praying and enjoy a time of personal prayer, all in the beautiful surroundings at Ushaw. The cost is £10 per person, including tea/coffee at the beginning and end of the day. Lunch may be purchased in the Refectory. 

Booking should be made at

Finchale Partnership open afternoon

People often say they would like to know more about the other parishes and churches in the partnership. The last of this year’s series of open afternoons is on Sunday, 6th October, from 2.00 – 4.00pm, at St. Joseph’s, Gilesgate, Durham, one of the churches in Durham Martyrs parish. The people of Durham Martyrs are looking forward to welcoming visitors from across the partnership to look around, chat over refreshments, and learn a little about the parish. Everyone is welcome to attend. You don’t have to sign up in advance, but if you need a lift to Durham, or if you are able to offer someone else a lift, please leave your details on the sheet on the noticeboard.

Finchale Partnership: Property & Community Review

This is the text of the announcement made at last weekend’s Masses across the Partnership:

The Diocese has asked all partnerships to carry out a Property and Community review.

Between 1985 and 2017 Mass attendance in the Diocese fell by more than 64%, but the number of Diocesan buildings has hardly changed. This means that we have too many churches and buildings, and the way they are currently used is unsustainable into the future. This situation places an increasing burden on priests and volunteers to manage property and we cannot afford to meet ongoing running, maintenance and repair costs.  

Now is the time for Partnerships to look ahead and consider what our future property and community needs will be.  The Diocese has asked that we undertake a full review of our buildings and land so that a flexible plan can be developed to maximise their use and sustainability, to meet the needs of our parishes and of the wider community. 

Each parish is asked to carry out a Community Audit, including talking to the local community such as local councils and voluntary groups, to help us think about what our buildings could be used for.  We will be looking for volunteers in all our parishes to make sure there is plenty of communication and consultation with parishioners, and to identify options for use of our buildings.

The Partnership is then asked to look ahead to 2030, taking account of the views of the parishes, financial forecasts, and property appraisals which look at building use and condition, to identify priorities.  A Property Proposals Plan will then be developed and submitted to the Diocese, where it will be reviewed.

The Partnership Development Group is meeting with Jeremy Brock, the Diocesan Property Review Co-ordinator, on 1 October, to find out more about the process.  We will, of course, be working with the Building Committees / volunteers in all of the parishes, and there will be plenty of opportunity for everyone to contribute their thoughts and ideas over the coming months. 

If you think you could help with the Community Audit please contact Margaret Doyle on

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who came along to help open our church for Heritage Open Days and the Partnership Open Afternoon. The church looked wonderful thanks to all your hard work cleaning, and everyone who provided refreshments and a warm welcome to our visitors made both events a real success.