Pastoral Council Meeting 26th February 2015

Minutes of St Cuthbert’s Parish Pastoral Council

26th February 2015

 1. The meeting opened with prayer.

Present:  fr
Ben Earl, Cliona Kear, Gil Bolton, John Marsland, Susan Penswick, Margaret
Doyle, Marianne Fleming, Norma Brown, David Hughes, Margaret Harvey

Stephanie Brown, John Urquhart, Michael
Laing, David Crookes,

3. Minutes of
the previous meeting were accepted.

4. Matters
– None

5. Reports from sub-committees/groups:

a.              Building committee report to St
Cuthbert’s Parish Pastoral Council 
Period ending 26th February

Choir loft balustrade. 

Details for fixing the balustrade extension have been drawn up and the
architect is getting costs for the work.

Works carried out since the last PPC.

Making good to the plaster in the porch was completed just before
Christmas and decoration is due to start week commencing 9

The lights in the church have all been re-lamped and one faulty
fitting had to be replaced.

Trace heating has been installed in a problematic section of gutter to
prevent, in bad weather, a build-up of ice resulting in water seeping/pouring
into the church.

The installation of the shower to the first floor bathroom is almost

The ground floor kitchen has been cleaned but some areas were not
  After much negotiation
the contractor returned on Tuesday 24
th February to finish the


Proposed work.

Porch and narthex

Next stage is to design the cupboards and obtain prices.

The church roof.

The high wind over winter has taken its toll on the church roof
resulting in some repair being required (more scaffolding), work is planned
to begin on Monday 2nd March and will last about one week weather


There is a considerable amount of making good to decoration which as
noted above is to begin week commencing 9th March.

Other maintenance continues as and when required.

Gil Bolton

Chair Building Committee.

b.                     St. Cuthbert’s
Fundraising Committee
Report to PPC 
period ending 26th February 2015

Events since the last PPC

Durham Ghost

David and Pauline Butler led two groups on this walk which took place
on Tuesday 28th October and raised £250.00.

quiz night
hosted by Liz and
Martin Donbavand was held on Saturday 22nd November at St Oswald’s Institute
and raised £270.00.

organised by Angela and Mike
Galloway was held on 21st January at the Seven Stars
Shincliffe.raising a total of £300.00 pounds.

. Angela Galloway had tea towels
made up with designs depicting prominent features of the church.

Initial sales of towels realised £700.00

organised by fr Ben, went on
sale before Christmas and together with tea towels are on continuous sale.

Initial sales of cards raised???


Andy and Margaret Doyle held a book sale on 14th February
which realised approximately £500.00.

fund raising events,

Miners’ Gala 11th July

Summer garden party with BBQ 28th June

Christmas raffle (local businesses to be approached
for prizes) ideas please?


Lumier is to take place in November, if there is
an installation close to St Cuthbert’s we will serve refreshments which did
very well at the last event.


At the last Fund Raising Committee Meeting it was
decided that “Stonework Project” should be renamed “Restoration Fund”.  This has come about due the continual work
needing to be carried out on the church and presbytery to keep it maintained.

of Fund Raising Committee.

The committee needs more people to sit on it and
help organise events particularly to promote events, sell tickets or to take
on an event attending to some or even all the detail.

Gil Bolton

Chair Fundraising Committee

d.  Catholic

In the absence of a report fr Ben said that the
Sunday evening Mass is very well attended and that the Chaplaincy Choir has
really taken off with 12-16 decent singers. 
The retreat to Ampleforth went really well.  Fr Ben is the Convenor of University
Chaplains and there is a rotating roll of 15-20 Chaplains.

e. Churches Together in
Elvet & Shincliffe:

of Elvet & Shincliffe Churches were encouraged to attend the Ecumenical
Service on 15
th November at St Mary’s Cathedral marking the 50th
Anniversary of the promulgation of Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism (
Unitatis Redintegratio)

Cuthbert’s hosted a Prayer Breakfast during the Week of Prayer for Christian
Unity on behalf of Durham Churches Together. 
On the same day, though in the evening, Elvet & Shincliffe held a
service at St Oswald’s which included a short presentation from each church on
what they treasure in their own tradition.

are looking to host a short series of Lenten evenings but are encountering
problems – please look out for details.

year’s pilgrimage to Holy Island will be on Saturday 20th June.


f.            Justice and Peace
Committee Report


are continuing to collect toilet rolls and biscuits for Failed Asylum Seekers
on the first Sunday of the month. We’ve asked Ciara to put a reminder in the
bulletin in advance.


continue about the lack of progress in getting money that we raised for
Belpahar actually to the intended recipients. 
It was suggested that alternatives be sought with the funds raised
divided between a local and an international charity. We were going to look
into the Colombia project supported by the Durham Martyrs Parish and perhaps a
prison charity.


Shared Harvest raised £128.77 for CAFOD.


Toilets:  Posters and collection boxes
have been placed in each toilet.


collection of Toys for Prison Visitors was very sparse this year and so it was
felt that we need to increase the publicity next year. 



Advent collection in aid of CAFOD:  the
young people raised £476.55 (a camel, 2 goats and some chickens for the virtual
farm). A semi-permanent display about what had been achieved was produced by
Judy McLean and can be seen during Lent in the narthex.


addition to Lenten Family Fast Day, we decided to embark on a parish ‘Carbon
Fast’ for Lent 2015. A sheet was produced and a notice of the weekly target
will be in the bulletin each week.

young people were asked to do the bucket collection again and proceeds will go
towards wood-saving stoves and a greenhouse for the virtual village.

g. Liturgy & Music:

Liturgy & Music Group has met twice since the last PPC.

response to some of the issues arising from the re-timing of the Carol Service
since the advent of the year-round evening Mass, we sounded the parish out and
transferred the service to a Friday evening. 
Numbers were up but it was notable that some who we would expect to see
did not attend.  We will be evaluating
this further.  We also continue to review
the Christmas Mass times but made no amendment in 2014.

the 10am Mass during Advent, we prepared a composite music sheet so as to
reduce the number of separate pieces of paper which the congregation can
sometimes have to handle.  This seemed to
work well and has been repeated for Lent.

has been mentioned in the bulletin, the weekday recitation of the Responsorial
Psalm at Mass has been reviewed.  It has
long been the custom here at St Cuthberts for all to say the psalm together.  This is not a common practice and can lead to
issues where people cannot see a Missal. 
As such, we have now moved to the more widespread practice of repeating
a response after each verse.

Liturgy & Music Group has arranged a series of Stations of the Cross
services, immediately following Vespers on the Friday evenings of Lent.

for Holy Week and Easter are in hand.  As
usual, we wish to emphasis the unity of the Triduum services and we are pleased
that there shall be a baptism at the Easter Vigil.

continue to deliberate as to how to increase the number of people on whom we
can call for the many lay ministries which support our celebration of


h.  Diocesan Meetings:


There have not been any meetings since the last PPC
meeting.”Forward in Hope” to next Council of Laity meeting in three weeks time.
Margaret Doyle is only on “The Council of Laity” now. 


6. Financial
: Deposit Account £22,400. Current Account £30,073.  The Diocese has put a moratorium on spending
so the lights cannot be done i.e. a new system. 
There is still the need to raise £25,000.  On the Quinquennial Report the stonework to
the Presbytery needs to be done which will be in the region of £40,000 and the
lighting £15,000.

7:   Parish
Retreats and Study Days – fr David

In fr David’s absence the following dates were announced:

Parish Retreat Day is 25th April – fr John Farrell

Study Day is 30th May – fr David Sanders from Blackfriars,

8.  Forward Together in Hope – fr Ben

Whilst Michael Laing is unavailable Margaret Doyle is the contact for the
Parish. There is an update on the Diocesan Website which is: or contact 0191 243 3304.

9. Items from the Parish Priest: All items have been covered

10. Any other business: 
There was a question re the Church heating – why has it seemed to be
colder this winter?  Fr Ben said that
under Health and Safety regulations the door between the porch and the Narthex
does have to be left open. 

11. Date of next meeting: 28th
May 2015 at 7.30 p.m. in the Parish Room

12.  The meeting closed with prayer

Proclaim 15

On 11 July, 35 people from the diocese led by Bishop Séamus will join 850 people from around the country for a one day gathering whose aim is to introduce people to the need for evangelising or missionary parishes in England and Wales.

The event is in Birmingham and a coach will pick up at Newcastle and Hartlepool or Darlington. It is hoped that those who attend will be on fire with the desire to spread the Good News of the Gospel. On their return they will be encouraged to put ideas into practice in our own diocese and create many missionary parishes and disciples – all in keeping with Forward Together in Hope and the Pope’s vision in Joy of the Gospel.

Anyone interested should contact Sr Michael on or 0191 581 3249: there are still a few seats available. More details on the poster on the noticeboard.

Pope Francis and Solidarity

Dr Meghan Clark will give a lecture entitled “Pope Francis and Solidarity” on Monday 18 May 2015, 4:00pm-6:00pm at Elvet Riverside 141.

Dr Meghan Clark is from St John University in New York. She is a world authority on Catholic Social Teaching and has worked in particular on the concept of “Solidarity”, and written widely on Human Rights and Theology. There will be plenty of time for discussion after the lecture.

If you would like to book a place please contact Booking is not essential, but it helps us to know numbers.

God does not have favourites

The first reading for this Sunday reminds us that “God does not have favourites” and that “anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35).

I am writing this text before the result of the General Election and the composition of the new government is known. But, given what the major parties have said during the campaign, it seems clear that tough immigration rules and targets will remain. Indeed, things may yet get more difficult for those who want to come here to live, work, study or visit.

It is, of course, reasonable that a society should protect itself from those who would harm it; but we must remember that welcome to people of all nations is part of what Christianity is built upon. St Peter and St Paul, those pillars of the early Church’s preaching, both became migrants. St Paul was shipwrecked three times and spent a night and day in the open sea (2 Cor 11:25). It is through their efforts to reach distant nations that we can now rejoice in the name of Christian.

Peter and Paul both got to Rome, where they died martyrs’ deaths; many hundreds of people each year do not make it as far as Italy, but drown in the Mediterranean or die in other futile attempts to cross borders. Whether these people are called migrants or refugees, the causes of their situation are complex; but the human tragedy is all too plain.

We have in the last few weeks focussed, unsurprisingly, on what is for the good of our national society; but now the election is over we must remember that our duties to a national society are secondary to our fundamental obligations as human beings and as Christians to cherish, support and welcome all human life. We must urge our newly-elected leaders to make these values a reality.

Celebration of Marriage

Bishop Séamus will celebrate Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday 9 May at 11.00am to
give thanks for the Sacrament of Marriage. All are welcome for what promises to be a wonderful celebration providing affirmation and support for Marriage across the diocese and to the wider North-East community.

General Election 2015

This coming Thursday, 7 May, sees one of the most significant responsibilities most of us have in making a decision for the good of our society. The Bishops of England and Wales, in their recent letter, remind us:

“The Gospel is radical and challenging. It is the saving message of Jesus Christ. It is a way of life. It teaches us to value each person: the vulnerable child inside the womb; the parent struggling with the pressures of family life; the person striving to combat poverty; the teacher inspiring students to seek the truth; the stranger fleeing violence and persecution in their homeland; the prisoner in his cell in search of redemption; the child in a distant land claiming the right to a future; and the frail elderly person needing care and facing the frontier of death.

“As Catholics, we are called to work for a world shaped by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel proclaims the mercy of God and invites us steadfastly to love God and our neighbour. Our relationship with God leads to the desire to build a world in which respect, dignity, equality, justice, and peace are our primary concerns…

“At this General Election we are asked to think about the kind of society we want here at home and abroad.”

Having heard the candidates, may we take time to pray and ponder this week about how best to serve our society by the way we vote. May the Holy Spirit give us the gift of right judgement in casting our votes, and rest upon the counsels of all those who are elected.

The Bishops’ letter is available at the back of the church or on-line at

Ordinary Synod on the family

Ahead of the forthcoming Ordinary
Synod on the Family to be held in October 2015, Pope Francis has
asked us to reflect with ‘true spiritual discernment’ on the themes
relating to marriage and family life that emerged from the
Extraordinary meeting of Bishops held in Rome in October 2014.

The Bishops of England
and Wales have published a document to help the faithful reflect and
discern on this crucial aspect of Catholic life. This 5-page
document, entitled The Call, The Journey and The Mission, is
available from the front page of our diocesan website or

It is recommended that
we join together in our parishes to pray together and discuss the
issues that face the family today. Consequently we are all invited to
a meeting in the Parish Room
at 7:30pm on Friday 1st May 2015.

Feedback from this
meeting will be submitted to the Curia so that our Diocesan Summary
can be given by Bishop Séamus to Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Bishop
Peter Doyle who will attend the Synod.

Parliamentary Election Hustings

Durham Churches Together (DCT) is organising hustings for the Parliamentary Election for the City of Durham Constituency. These will be held at Durham Town Hall on Monday 27 April at 7:30 pm. The Dean of Durham Cathedral, Very Rev. Michael Sadgrove, will chair proceedings.

You are encouraged to send in questions for all candidates to the DCT Secretary, Kirsty Thomas, at

Candidates present will be: Roberta Blackman Woods (Labour), Rebecca Coulson (Conservative), Jonathan Elmer (Green Party), Craig Martin (Lib-Dem), John Marshall (Independent)

If you haven’t already done so, please take a copy of the Bishops’ letter to Catholics for the General Election (available at the back of the church), or view information from the Bishops’ Conference on-line at This may well raise some questions which you would like to put to candidates!

Retreat Day: The Risen Lord and the Community of Disciples

fr. John Farrell OP, Prior Provincial, will be giving a day retreat at St Cuthbert’s on Saturday 25 April on the theme of The Risen Lord and the Community of Disciples. Refreshments will be available from 10:00am, with the day beginning at 10:30am, and finishing by 4:00pm. The programme will include Mass at 12:15pm (which will be the Parish Mass that day), a “bring and share” Lunch and will conclude with Vespers. All are welcome to attend.

This day is particularly recommended to all undertake particular ministries at St Cuthbert’s: music, reading, catechesis etc. It will count as the annual day of recollection which all Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion undertake to participate in.

NB As a result of this retreat day, Mass will be celebrated at the later time of 12:15pm instead of 9:15am; the Mass is for everyone, not just those participating in the retreat day.

Eight Days Later

Caravaggio, The Incredulity of St Thomas (c. 1601-1602)

It is no mere co-incidence that the gospel passage we read on the Second Sunday of Easter – the eighth day of the Easter season – is always that of St Thomas, who did not encounter the Lord when first he rose, but only eight days later (John 20:19-31).

For Christians there is always a link between the first day of the week and the eighth. It’s not really correct to talk of Sunday as a “Christian Sabbath”. Saturday is the Sabbath day, the seventh day; Sunday is the first day of the week. But as Sunday is also the day which saw the Lord rose from the dead, we speak of it as being the first day of the new creation: the day after the Lord rested. The first day of the new creation is then, in a sense, the eighth day of the old creation.

The most intense part of the Easter celebration is also an eight-day festival, an “octave”. Every day in this Octave is Easter Day, and the liturgical celebrations of the octave – with Gloria, sequence and extra alleluias – recognise this. One single 24-hour period is insufficient for the joy of Easter Day.

So Thomas is not late when he meets the Lord on the eighth day: for the eighth day is Easter Day. The slight delay has the benefit of enabling Jesus to demonstrate how real the resurrection is: Thomas can touch him, and recognised him not just as his friend and teacher risen from the dead, but as his Lord and God.

On this Octave Day may we too recognise Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and believing have life through his name, eternally singing, “Alleluia!”

Tenebrae and Triduum

Holy Week and Easter are times of the year when Catholics use words which we never use at other times of the year, and which perhaps leave us a little bemused if we’re not quite sure what they mean!

The Easter Triduum is the high point of the Church’s year, and consists of a liturgy in three acts over three successive days as we follow Christ through his Passion and Resurrection. It begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00pm in which we commemorate Christ’s washing of his disciples’ feet, the institution of the Eucharist and his night of intense prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The “second act” of the Triduum is the Solemn Commemoration of the Passion of the Lord at 3:00pm on Good Friday. We recall Christ’s death on the cross, by which the sins of the world are taken away. It is a hugely moving yet stark and solemn liturgy.

The climax of the whole liturgical year comes with the Easter Vigil beginning at 8:30pm on Holy Saturday, a dramatic celebration of Christ’s resurrection with full sensory immersion! The liturgy starts with the blessing of the new fire and the proclamation of the resurrection, continuing with a vigil of readings and psalms, celebration of baptism and confirmation, and first Mass of Easter. Appropriately enough, after the liturgy we celebrate with a joyful Paschal party in the Parish Room!

We warmly encourage those who are able to join us for the celebration of all three parts of the Triduum. The Vigil may be a little late for young children, but is an intensely moving experience for teenagers and adults. It is also much easier to find a seat at the Easter Vigil than at the packed Easter Sunday morning Mass.

A quieter celebration is the office of Tenebrae at 10:00am on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. This is a meditative service of psalms, readings and prayers as we think on Christ’s passion and death. It lasts about 45 minutes, and is followed by an opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance (Confession).

Icon Exhibition: Twelve Northern Saints

Until 13 April, Durham Cathedral is hosting an Exhibition of Icons of twelve of our local Saints. These icons were “written” by amateurs – in prayer and fasting at the Centre for Prayer and Mission, Seaham, part of the Evangelisation Team of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. The icons are part of our evangelising outreach, for just as these saints carried the Gospel to all around them and even gave their lives in times of persecution, so we are encouraged to go out to live the Gospel in our times and circumstances. Many visitors praying with the icons would be a great witness to the strength of our faith.

See the Diocesan website for more information, including a “prayer walk” along the Wear.

In the Garden of Gethsemane – a Lenten meditation

Dr Angela Kim Harkins will give a Lenten talk at St Cuthbert’s Church on Saturday 28 March at 10:30am entitled, In the Garden of Gethsemane: The Bodily Experience of Prayer.

Angela is an Honorary Fellow at the Department of Theology and Religion here at Durham, and has been a member of our Parish and Chaplaincy community since coming to Durham eighteen months ago. She also holds a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship at the University of Birmingham, where she is undertaking research on emotion, prayer and religious experience at Qumran. Her talk will reflect her research and consists of a Lenten reflection on the Garden of Gethsemane prayer in Matthew 26:36-46. All are welcome.

Deanery Penitential Service

There will be a Lenten Penitential Service for the Durham Deanery at St Patrick’s Church, Langley Moor on Sunday 22 March at 4:30pm. Priests from around the Deanery will be available to hear individual confessions.

Of course, the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) is also available at St Cuthbert’s from 6:30pm on Wednesday evenings during Lent and from 9:45am on Saturday mornings, or by appointment, or on call. There will also be extra opportunities for Confession during Holy Week.

This is an excellent time to bring our sins before the Lord, and prepare to celebrate Easter cleansed and renewed by him.

Lenten Fridays: Vespers, Stations, Film

Each Friday in Lent we are be celebrating Vespers and Stations of the Cross at 6:15pm. Following Stations (c. 7:00pm), we will also show an appropriate film. Do come for some or all of the evening. 

Friday 27 March is the last Friday of Lent before Good Friday; being “Passiontide” we will show Mel Gibson’s powerful (and at times disturbing) film The Passion of the Christ, starring Jim Caviezel as Christ as he endures his last twelve hours. NB not suitable for children.

Visit of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle

Prominent during Pope Francis’ tour of the Philippines, where he gathered a record crowd of over 6 million people for the celebration of Mass, was the Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and we are fortunate that he will be visiting St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle on Monday 9 March. He will celebrate the 12.05pm Mass (which will be sung), and will speak at an Evening Celebration at 7.00pm. Cardinal Tagle is an inspiring communicator and is well respected for his involvement in many social issues and his work among the poor. Everyone is welcome.

Church Stewarding

The church is open for prayer and
visiting on Thursdays and Fridays after Lauds until 3.30pm and
Saturdays after the 9.15am Mass until 12:00pm. We are looking for
more volunteers to be stewards whilst the church is open. There will
be a new rota starting from 16th March if you have any
mornings or afternoons spare to help out then please contact David
or Ciara in the parish office on 0191 3843442

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.