Welcome to the Parish Council page

St Robert's Church, like many Catholic Churches, has a Parish Pastoral Council which seeks to assist the Parish Priest in providing the ministry of St Robert's Church. The Council thus seeks to deal with questions of finance, plant, roles and responsibilities and most importantly, the spiritual life of the parish. Thus we always have a spiritual reflection to begin a meeting to focus our attention on the overriding purpose of why we are meeting: to build up the Church and Community in this place.


MINUTES of Meeting held at St Robert’s Centre, Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Present:  Mgr Donal,  Fr John,  Tony Barnes, Paul Barry, Krzysztof Dabrowski,  Nimmi D’Cunha, Peter Hannon, John Hughes, Kevin McNerney (Chair), Paul Parker, Kath Plant, Anne-Marie Richards.

1   Mgr Donal opened meeting with a welcome and Prayer.

2   Spiritual Reflection:   The August commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in Japan prompted Paul Barry to read from a book called The Bells of Nagasaki, written by Dr Takashi Nagai, a devout Christian and a Professor of Radiology at the University Hospital at the time of the dropping of the A-Bomb on Nagasaki.  Somehow he survived the blast, though he ultimately succumbed to radiation sickness 6 years later.  He delivered an Address at a Memorial Service in the ruins of the Catholic Cathedral in November 1945, as representative of the strong Christian community in that part of Japan, and it was striking the strength of his Faith in the face of such utter destruction and loss of life all around. He referred to the Hand of God in those tragic events and the need for a sacrifice to expiate mankind’s sins. What better sacrifice than the heart of the Christian community in Nagasaki, protectors of the Faith for over 400 years in Japan?

Action:  Next Spiritual Reflection volunteer:   Krzysztof Dabrowski.

3   Apologies:     Barbara Macaulay, Francis McAllister,  Andy Maslevakas, Paula Shanks, Teresa Aksamit-Hollingsworth.

4  Minutes of 21 July 2015 meeting accepted

5  Matters Arising: 

i.                    St Robert’s Feast Day Weekend Festivities – Feedback?    Generally good feedback, particularly about the Sunday Lunch (thanks to the Chef – Monsignor -  for his hard work!), the International Food Festival  on Sunday evening at St Robert’s Club; the Haydon Choir Mass on the following Tuesday. Saturday night at St Robert’s Club was not successful as very few people attended the informal Games evening.  Specific mention was made about the huge efforts of Mrs Joy O’Brien with regard to the Pilgrimage to St Robert’s Cave, Knaresborough, and the work undertaken to clean it up in readiness for the visit. But it was very disappointing that so few people actually attended, young and old alike.  In the same context, the Organ Recital the prior Friday evening  for Iraqi Christians in Need was also very poorly attended, but was an excellent Recital, and despite the low numbers a total of £1,356 was raised for this most worthy cause.

Discussions around the perceived lack of support for some events took place, and no strong consensus on the reasons why, (or solutions), beyond the usual comments aired on previous occasions:-  very large parish; different and fragmented congregations; expectation levels perhaps set too high; Mass reductions (required) leading to a more integrated community;  too many events leading to people ‘picking and choosing’ which to attend;  the need to work on ‘Celebration’.   However, real efforts were made and have been recognised.

The point was also well made (by Fr J) that the Parish is actually called Our Lady and St Robert’s Church, and with a lot of focus in recent years on our secondary Saint, we have been guilty of overlooking our primary Patron, Our Lady, Mother of God.  It would be appropriate to focus on Her in the future and whether that is December 8th, May or October needs to be considered at a future meeting.

ii.                  SJF School Minibus – Payment made?  The new minibus was on display last weekend at SJF Chapel, and the Parish has made a donation of £2,500 towards the purchase cost.


iii.                Meeting of Ministries to be organised.   The meeting was reminded of the minute from the July meeting –It was suggested that there should be meetings of key ministries in Autumn (all the above) with a view to emphasising the commitments and responsibilities in each of these ministries.  Who is organising this?”   After a brief discussion about which Ministries, it was left that Mgr Donal would organise weekday evening meetings of the key Ministries including Eucharistic, Reading and Greeting, for 1 hour per group.


iv.                Organ/Piano Recital for ICIN – Amount raised ?        £1,356 including Gift Aided contributions.


v.                  Music at Mass – Update.  Mr Beetles is now making great progress with the Mass communities at 9 and 1130am, and evenings sometimes, on Sundays.  His change of tack by getting the congregation to ’practice’ before Mass begins is paying dividends.

6  Lenten Project Rules Review  & 2016 Launch.    The sub committee had met and re-formulated a draft set of rules for the operation of the annual Lenten Project, which were handed out to the meeting, discussed, and accepted as presented.  There was some discussion around whether we could react to a crisis for people in great need/hardship, rather than specifically a Project for a particular purpose.  Common sense will no doubt prevail.  As in prior years, the Finance sub-committee of the Council will review all applications received and will put a recommended short list to the full Council for deciding which proposal should be accepted for that year’s Lenten Project.   Lent commences on 10 February 2016, so the process needs to get under way shortly so that the decision making by Council can take place at the next meeting in January (Tues, 19/01/2016).

7  A Healing Mass Proposal   Peter H outlined his experiences of a ‘Healing Mass’ at a church in Filey which he attends from time to time.  It was felt that what was described was probably the Sacrament of the Sick (laying on of hands and anointing with oil), and therefore our clergy felt that there needed to be more consideration about this suggestion so as to ensure that the Sacrament of the Sick was not in any way trivialised.  No further action on this proposal, and it was understood that the Clergy will review themselves and act accordingly.

8   World Youth Day, Krakow 2016:  A Ceilidh Fundraising Event 13 November   The sale of tickets for the Ceilidh is going well, with approx. 70 sold, and the location has now switched to SJF hall.  However, the take up of youth members for the trip to Krakow is not proceeding as originally envisaged.  A minimum of 10 young people was required, but with only 4 expressing interest, and a final decision to be made imminently because of the need to secure plane tickets etc, it was almost certain that the trip would be cancelled.  Fr J did indicate that individuals, if they wished, could join the official Diocesan Trip though that was more costly than what Joy had been trying to organise.  The funds raised from the Ceilidh will go into the Youth Group for future events if the Krakow trip is cancelled.

9  Clergy Matters

i.                     Request from Holy Ghost Fathers -  Appeal letter dd 4 Aug 2015  This is the Spiritan Fathers, and their request had been given support by the Diocese for 2015.  We have missed out this year for them, but having already fitted in two extra collections for others ((Sisters of the Poor, Leeds in Sept, and Aid to the Church in Need 7/8 November), we would have had difficulty any way in accommodating them.  Mgr Donal has taken the request letter back and will speak to them directly with the possibility of a collection/appeal during 2016 being offered.

ii.                  A Parish Census -  Fr J advised on progress towards implementing a 2016 Census of parishioners in the early new year (probably February).  Krzysztof’s daughter with her Excel skills has re-drafted the database to be used for the collation of all information received.  This will allow for easier manipulation of the underlying data once inputted.  He has also taken the opportunity to re-draft the input document that parishioners will complete, to ensure that the tick-box approach to different ministries and activities (preferences/interests) is on the back page not the front of the document, to avoid the problem of the last census where people perhaps felt ‘obligated’ to tick a number of activities.  A copy was shown to Council and will be sent out to everyone with the minutes. Fr J asked everyone to consider and return to him with any ideas they may have about the input document. Fr J stressed that the form was an invitation to participate in the various Ministries not an expectation to do so.   Once approved, before Christmas, the preparations for the new year launch can get under way.

iii.                Church Decoration -  Mgr Donal asked if the re-painting of the body of the church could be continued.  Last year the lower walls had been completed up to a certain point above head height, and now it would be appropriate to continue the process up to the roof line.  It would be good to have this work undertaken in January/February 2016.  Council approved the proposal, and Mgr will take forward.

10  Any other business?

a.         Krzysztof mentioned his ideas for Devotions to Our Lady and in particular focus on the months of May and October. He mentioned The Apostolate of the Living Rosary which invites and encourages parishioners to pray and meditate on a decade of the Rosary daily for one month. This Apostolate has Papal approval. [Secretary will put on agenda in January for more detailed discussion].

11  Next Meeting Dates for 2016:   The proposed dates for 2016 were the third Tuesdays of January, April, July and October, and these dates were agreed.  Please all note in your diaries, smart phones,  I-pads etc.


19th  Jan,   19th Apr,  19th Jul,  18th Oct.



12  Meeting closed following prayer at 845pm.

St Robert’s Church  PARISH PASTORAL COUNCIL:         

MINUTES         Meeting:  Tuesday,  20 January 2015, 730pm.


Present:  Mgr Donal, Fr John, Teresa Aksamit-Hollingsworth. Tony Barnes, Paul Barry, Krzystof Dabrowski,  Peter Hannon,  Barbara Macaulay, Kevin McNerney,[Chair],  Paul Parker, Kath Plant, Anne-Marie Richards, Paula Shanks.

Apologies:  Nimmi D’Cunha,  John Hughes, Andy Maslavekas, Francis McAllister.

Visitors:   Pippa Bonner (St Aelred’s) &  Pat Brown (Holy Rosary, Chapeltown, Leeds)


1  Welcome & Introductory Prayer, followed by brief Reflection  on ‘Ordinary Time’ by Mgr Donal. 

The next spiritual reflection will be undertaken by Anne-Marie Richards.


2  Minutes of last meeting (16 Nov 2014) agreed, with no matters arising.


3  A Call to Action [ACTA]:  Our visitors came to brief us on the formation of a nationwide group known as “A Call to Action”,  though locally the Leeds Group have added ‘A Time for Dialogue’ as a sub-title.  The movement arose following the publication of a letter in The Tablet, (June 2012), by the ‘Portsmouth Seven’, which expressed deep concern about the future of the church etc.  Our visitors have left several documents for our consideration, and since the meeting, a detailed email has been received by PJB, with the documents attached, which email Pippa Bonner has said can be forwarded on to the Council members.  As well as providing us with information on the action group, they were also asking if they could hold one of their meetings in the Harrogate Deanery, specifically at St Robert’s Centre.  They responded to some questions, and after they left, a brief discussion took place, with agreement that we would invite them to meet at St Robert’s Centre later in the year, and it was also suggested that someone may like to attend the next meeting of ACTA Leeds at Leeds Trinity College on 28 March 2015, feeding back their views on that event at our next PPC scheduled for 21 April.  It is also worth recording that there was a strong sense that the climate under which ACTA saw its beginnings, has improved with a new Pope, bishops and a more positive environment generally.

          ACTION:  1.  PJB to speak to parishioner, Maureen Green, who has attended one or two of these meetings.  Will she be attending 28 March meeting, and would she be willing to feed back to Council afterwards?    2.  PJB to reply to the email from Pippa Bonner, inviting the group to meet at St Robert’s and provide her with contact details for booking the Parish Centre.  3.  PJB to forward her email on to all members of PPC for their information.


Youth Ministry Update   A written report received from Mrs Joy O’Brien, and briefly outlined by PJB to meeting.   Mention was made of an SVP initiative called ‘Mini Vinnies’ in primary schools, but a subsequent conversation with Vincent Naylor has revealed that this is a project in its infancy (no pun intended!), which is being piloted in East Leeds presently.  If successful it will be rolled out to a wider area.  ACTION:   Joy’s Report to be sent out with Minutes.


5   Lenten Project 2015:  The meeting was provided with a Short List of 4 Proposals for consideration, following the examination of a Long List of 11 proposals, received by the deadline, being reduced to 4 by a small group comprising members of the Finance team & Fr John on Monday morning.

The short list comprises of:

1   St Robert’s Club –completion of upstairs room for exclusive use of Youth & young people of Parish.      £9,900

2   SVP Support Centre, Leeds-refurbish the community café. £8,650

3   Asha Kiran Society Hospital, Koraput, Odisha, India – build an Intensive Care Unit with laboratory support infrastructure.  £21,795

4   (ex) St Mary’s Welcome Project - St Patrick’s Mission, Bradford.  kitchen & eating area, toilets and storage etc £10 -20,000

Following a very full discussion, with a number of views being expressed, Kevin as chair drew the discussion to a conclusion with the summary that there was a strong consensus emerging for projects 1 & 2 to be accepted, and as there were no objections to this, this position was accepted.

          ACTIONS:   1  PJB to write/contact all the unsuccessful proposals’ sponsors to advise them of the outcome, on behalf of the PPC.  (Agreed with Fr John on Monday).

                          2  PJB to contact Gordon Fabretti and Vincent & Madeleine Naylor to let them know that their projects have been accepted, and to remind them of their responsibilities vis a vis communication and any appropriate materials for the Parish community.

                          3  The Short List to be attached to Minutes for the benefit of absent councilors.

                          4  Kevin, Kath and Paul to meet, if necessary, to resolve issues surrounding the Gift Aiding of SVP Project, whereas the St Robert’s Club cannot be gift-aided.  PJB will confirm meeting time with Kevin and Kath, but probably Tuesday, 27 Jan at 6pm.


6  Programme for Lenten Season:  Brief discussion around the programme for the Lenten period, and it was agreed that the Stations of the Cross would be held each Friday evening, with one week’s service being held with contributions from the different nationalities that make up our community.  Mgr D made some suggestions, and it was proposed that a sub-group comprising Kevin, Paula, Anne-Marie and the clergy should meet soon to outline activities for the Lenten season.  

ACTION:  1.  Sub-group to meet shortly.

                2.  Kevin to contact Andy Maslavekas about the contact names re. Stations.


7   Clergy Matters for Discussion:    None.

 8   Any Other Business:   None.                    

9   Next Meeting:  21 April 2015

 10   Meeting closed at 0859pm with a closing Prayer.

St Robert’s Church                    


MINUTES    Meeting:  Tuesday, 18 November 2014, 730pm.


Present:  Mgr Donal, Tony Barnes, Paul Barry, Krzystof Dabrowski,  Peter Hannon, John Hughes, Kevin McNerney, [Chair],  Paul Parker, Kath Plant, Anne-Marie Richards.

Apologies:   Fr John Carlisle, Barbara Macaulay, Andy Maslavekas, Francis McAllister, Paula Shanks Teresa Aksamit-Hollingsworth.


1.     Welcome & Introductory Prayer.  By Mgr Donal.

2.     Spiritual Reflection.    John Hughes provided a reflection on his thought processes on praying for the  finding of a new music director.  By a circuitous route he drew to our attention the name of Richard Rolle, c.1290 – 1349.  He was a prolific writer, a hermit, and ended his days in a Cistercian monastery.  [Refer Wikipedia for lots more information].  JH’s prayer for a new music director was answered later in the meeting – see below  9.3.


4.     Minutes of Last Meeting (16/09/14)

Accepted and agreed.


5.     Matters Arising:  None.


6.       Youth Ministry Update:  Joy provided attendees with an Update paper, which she briefly took us through.  The key messages are:

          - National Youth Sunday celebration and Mass (6pm)  23 November.

          - Commissioning of SVP Youth Group during above Mass

          - Afternoon Tea and carols at Appley Grange, Retirement home of the Nuns, Oatlands Drive.

          - Trip to Zambia, St Robert’s Village, Pemba  July 2015 for 2 weeks.  At least 6 of the Youth

Group keen to go.  Cost c.£1,000 pp flights.  A lot to do to ensure that this trip happens.  JO’B will be in contact with Sister Mary over logistics.  Fund-raising required to meet travel costs.          Chairman Kevin thanked Joy for all of her hard work on the various elements of her ministry.


7.      Catholic Club Re-Development.  Gordon Fabretti, a Trustee of the Catholic Club, gave a brief update on the situation with the site work across the road.  He also spoke of his vision for the re-generation of the Catholic Club, now called St Robert’s Club.  The club was founded in 1912, and has been a ‘watering hole’ and social meeting place for generations of St Roberts’ catholics down the years.  He explained that the refurbishment would see the ground floor open for business 14/15 Dec, and the upstairs games room etc being completed by mid January. 

There will be a drive for new members from the Parish from 1 Feb 2015, at  £10 per annum subscription, and with the AGM scheduled for the end of March 2015, he was hopeful that 1 or 2 PPC members would stand for the new Club’s committee, in order to provide a link between the church and the club.  He will use the weekly bulletin to foster interest in becoming members of the new club.  GF answered some questions, and was thanked for coming and briefing the council.

8.     Evaluation of St Robert’s feast Day Celebration:  The annual event has now been running 3 years, and with perceptions that the numbers of attendees may be in decline, it was felt appropriate to discuss the merits etc of the Day, and what about its future.  A variety of opinions were expressed, and whilst the actual Mass itself was enjoyed by all, there was concern about the adverse impact of colder weather on future attendance given that it is held in  late September.  The idea of bringing back the Summer Garden Party / open air Mass in the Convent grounds was raised, and after full discussion, no decision was made about the way forward, but Chair KMcN agreed that he would explore the possibility of using the convent grounds in the future and report back.    ACTION.

9.     Clergy Matters

          1.  SJF Chapel heating.  Boiler now up and running.  Some work still to be completed but the situation is greatly improved.

          2.  Parish 2014 Seniors Christmas Lunch – 19 Dec:  Mgr Donal has got it organized with a chef from Brio’s (Giovanni) and a number of volunteers to help on the day.  Volunteers required to set the room up the day before, and the bulletin will be used to seek the appropriate help.

          3.  A new Music Director has been found  by Mgr Donal, Nigel Beetles, head of Music at SJF.  He will be taking up the position from June 2015.

          4.  Menwith Hill partially closes in June 2015, and the Camp Commandant, Colonel Agar is keen that the remaining members of the MW congregation (c.100 out of 130 currently), will stay together, and he has spoken  with St Robert’s for that purpose.  Mgr D will be liaising with them / Fr John Marsh.


10.   Any Other Business:                    

a.   2015 Lenten Project:  Kath Plant advised that Ash Wednesday was 18 February, 2015, 2 weeks earlier than last year.  We need to act promptly in obtaining and assimilating potential Project applications given the timeframe.  She will be putting requests in the bulletin for suitable projects  and it is expected that a decision on the 2015 project can be made at the next Council meeting in January.

b.  Schools Admissions statement in St Joseph’s bulletin:  copies were circulated and there was some discussion about this stance.  It became clear that the issue is complex, potentially divisive, legally un-enforceable, and perhaps summed up by the outcomes at our own primary school at the beginning of this term, with 97 applicants for 40 places.  There are up to 6 levels or categories to consider in approving applicants, and the 40 were chosen without getting beyond category 3 or 4,  ie a proper and clear Intake policy in place, from which any decisions made can be defended.

11.               Meeting  Dates for 2015:   All  Tuesdays, commencing  730pm -

20 January,  21 April,  21 July,  20 October.

          Please note in diaries.


12.    Close of Meeting  &  Evening Prayer  at 840pm.

St Robert’s Church                     


MINUTES of  Meeting:  Tuesday, 15 July 2014, 730pm.


Present:  Mgr Donal, Paul Barry, Tony Barnes, Krzystof Dabrowski, Peter Hannon,  John Hughes, Francis McAllister, Kevin McNerney, [Chair],  Paul Parker, Kath Plant, Anne-Marie Richards, Paula Shanks.

Apologies:   Fr John Carlisle. Nimmi D’Cunha, Andy Maslavekas, Barbara Macaulay.


1.     Welcome & Introductory Prayer                                   

Mgr Donal opened the meeting with prayer.


2.     Spiritual Reflection                                                      

Krystof  referred to the Life of the Saints, and how he uses modern media to read more about individual saintly lives.   Learning something about the ‘Saint of the Day’ can be of great help in our own day to day spiritual lives.  And so today is the feast of St Bonaventure, bishop and doctor of the Church, b. 1218, d. 1274……….

Francis McAllister volunteered to undertake the Spiritual Reflection at our 16 September meeting.


3.     Minutes of Last Meeting (4/05/14)

Accepted and agreed.  The following items were discussed.


4.     Matters Arising: 


a.   Corrina’s Homeless Meals initiative  PJB has not spoken to Mrs Young since the last update.  He has rung her at her workplace and home, and left messages.  He will keep trying and find out whether her initiative continues, and if our parish centre is of any interest to them as a location in the future.

b.  CCTV in St Robert’s Church  After a great deal of input last meeting, it was agreed that we would pray for guidance, that a consensus view on the way forward should be achieved, and that at the end of the day, a possible re-think on the viability of this project would be made.  Further discussion took place and Paul Parker reviewed the argument in favour of CCTV, which he argued could be achieved sensitively to provide a measure of security for the church, people and clergy in the presbytery.  Views against the proposition were also aired, with concerns about privacy, sending ‘the wrong message’ given we are a church which is welcoming, and a genuine view that despite the occasional unsavoury incident, it doesn’t require such a ‘heavy’ respons.  In conclusion, Kevin as chair proposed that Paul Parker should present a proposal to the next meeting outlining where cameras might be placed and how many, and a decision would be made at that meeting on the viability or otherwise of the initiative.  It should be kept in mind that the decision, if ‘Yes’, needs to be conveyed to the Parish before action taken.

c.  Prayer of the Faithful (Bidding Prayers). Mentioned by Mgr Donal at last meeting, this matter was raised again and Mgr D. outlined how it might work, with a number of families being involved, on a rota basis, in writing the bidding prayers for a particular week.  Tony Barnes has seen it in operation in a parish elsewhere, and he said it was very effective, with members of the one family reading each bidding prayer.  Mgr D. had also introduced this approach at his former parish.  He felt that there was no need to have any further great discussion about whether to do or not, but that an invitation to the Parish for volunteer families should be placed in the weekly bulletin with a view to implementing the initiative as soon as possible in September.  He added that a rota would need to be drawn up, and just as with other ministries, a responsible approach adopted by all those volunteering.  A minimum 12 families or individuals is necessary initially to ensure it gets off to a good start.   Action:  A note to be put into the bulletin (when?).  Perhaps Fr John can liaise with Mgr Donal on the actual timing (and wording) of this bulletin insert on his return from Lourdes.


5.     Youth Ministry Issues      [Mrs Joy O’Brien attended this part of the Council Meeting]

i.   Youth Mass – Sun, 31 August?  A great deal of discussion took place about the holding of a Youth Mass, and it was agreed that 31 August was too early to produce a Service that would be attractive to the young people and ensure attendance of as many as possible.  It was agreed during the discussions that the Feast of Christ the King, National Youth Sunday, 23 November 2014, would be an ideal time to hold a first Youth Mass, which properly ‘marketed’ and prepared for, with input from the Youth themselves, would hopefully ensure a successful outcome.  Kevin McNerney volunteered to work with Joy O’Brien to ‘shape’ the event in order to ensure a successful outcome.  It is more than likely that this Mass will not be one of the normal scheduled Sunday Masses, but will have its own time slot (4pm ??).

ii.   Coffee morning after 9am Mass  Nothing to discuss;  Joy confirmed that the youth support these mornings.

iii.  Information Leaflet, and Welcome Brochure.  Joy handed out a two page document showing what had been achieved.  It will be folded into a smaller presentation, and will include an insert for new parishioners to complete their details and hand in to the clergy.  A copy of the brochure is attached with these Minutes, and council members should feedback any comments or suggestions direct to Joy. (Her email address is in email heading).

iv.  Adult Support for Youth Club  Joy has had invitations to adult parishioners for support in running the Youth Club, in the weekly bulletin for some time now, but there have been no volunteers offering their support.  The Youth Committee was mentioned, but this does not appear to have met of late, and it was suggested that it ought to meet up with Joy and Fr John sometime soon, to discuss the issues which Joy faces.  The Youth Club requires more adult presence as youth numbers increase, from a simple safeguarding perspective, but also from the admin/logistic perspective.  Action:  Fr John and Joy.  Is there a need for an expanded youth committee?


6.  St Robert’s Feast Day Celebrations

It was very quickly established that the Council want to proceed with what will be the 3rd annual feast Day Celebration of our Patronal Saint, and with prior input from Fr John over dates, Sunday, 28 September was fixed as the day of celebration.  (Fr John will be away the two prior weekends on annual leave).

PJB had prepared an aide memoire capturing the key areas of activity for a successful weekend, based upon the considerable input from Andy Maslevakas over the two prior years.  Each member present had a copy to consider, and Chair Kevin talked us through the document seeking out volunteers to take responsibility for each of the five key areas – Liturgy, Administration, Catering, Logistics, and Youth & Entertainment.  The Aide-memoire has been updated from the input from councilors, and is attached to the email sending out these Minutes.  If anyone disagrees with what has been put down by secretary Paul, please let him know as soon as possible.  To assist everyone, the amendments to the document will be done in red type until everyone has seen and had chance to comment etc.  It wasn’t specifically mentioned at the meeting, but there are only 10 weekend to go to the Feast Day celebration, so it is important that actions take place where time critical etc before our next Council Meeting.


7.  Clergy Matters for discussion?  

a.  Mgr Donal mentioned that Alex Kyle finishes his Musical Director contract at the end of the month.  Mgr D. asked whether we should consider locating someone to replace him, and there was unanimity over this move, given the significant improvements seen/heard since Alex became involved with our Traditional and Folk Choirs. No actions agreed on how the successor would be identified.

b.  Church Re-decoration:  Feedback on the improvements seen on the sanctuary back wall etc was described as ‘stunning’, money well spent etc, and it was agreed that there should be a continued programme of redecoration of the side walls of the church, in manageable chunks over the months ahead.  Paul Parker / Mgr D. would take this matter forward.



8.  Any Other Business:                       

a.   Readers to provide a ‘Welcome’ before Mass starts - Tony Barnes:  This is a well established practice both at 9am Mass and 1015am SJF Mass, but there was some feeling around the table that it wasn’t prescriptive, and if not already in place at other Masses, it shouldn’t be imposed on people.

b.   It was suggested that the Celebrant should mention which Eucharistic prayer was to be said before he commenced it.  Mgr D. disagreed, explaining that the Eucharistic Prayer articulated by the President on behalf of the faithful, was for listening by the congregation, and building to the great ‘Amen’ at the prayer’s end (post Consecration) by everyone.

c.   Eucharistic Ministers:  At a prior meeting it had been mentioned that it was a pity that housebound parishioners, who may well have been daily attendees at Mass, were limited to receiving the Hioly Eucharist perhaps once a fortnight now because of incapacity/infirmity.  As a consequence there has been an appeal in the weekly bulletin for more volunteer Eucharistic Ministers, but as of last weekend, there had been very few new names. If there is an increase in the number of ministers, the next step will be to increase visits to individuals who want more visits, from fortnightly to weekly


9. Meeting  was brought to a close at 2115hrs with  a short prayer.




NEXT MEETING DATES :    16 September  2014,  18 November 2014.

                                      All Tuesdays,  730pm starts with proposed finishing times of 9pm.

St Robert’s Church                     


St Robert’s Church                     


MINUTES of  Meeting:  Tuesday, 4 May 2014, 730pm.


Present:  Mgr Donal, Paul Barry, Tony Barnes, Krzystof Dabrowski, Nimmi D’Cunha, Peter Hannon, Andy Maslavekas, Paul Parker, Kath Plant, Anne-Marie Richards, Paula Shanks.

Apologies:   John Hughes, Barbara Macaulay, Francis McAllister, Kevin McNerney,  Fr John Carlisle.


1.     Welcome & Introductory Prayer                                   

Mgr Donal opened the meeting with prayer.


2.     Spiritual Reflection                                                      

In the absence of a volunteer, Mgr Donal reflected upon the upsets and tragedies in life and in the current news, and brought his message together with a reading from Thomas Keneally (‘Whenever that happened’).


3.     Minutes of Last Meeting (4/03/14)

Accepted and agreed.  The following items were discussed.


4.     Matters Arising: 

a.   Finance   A summary of progress on the financial Appeal was inserted into the weekly bulletin at the end of March, as agreed at the March meeting, and  the Clergy also emphasized the message at the end of each Mass that weekend.  Kath Plant advised that there were now 166 Gift Aiding Donor Parishioners in place.

b.   Chair progress  Though he was unable to attend tonight, Kevin McNerney has indicated his willingness to be the Chair of the Council for the next 12 months.  In his absence, Tony Barnes kindly stepped into the position at very short notice for the current meeting!  We now have a succession plan in place with Francis McAllister taking over from KMcN, and in his turn, Tony Barnes taking on the role from FMcA in 2016.

c.   Update on Ministry meetings (Eucharist & Lectors)   The first was led by Fr John, and the second by the Deanery (Mgr Philip Holroyd).  Both meetings were well received, and feedback has been largely positive.  With regard to the Eucharistic Ministry, the input and participation was seen as a success with the following observations being made – conducted reverently; a sense of Liturgy;  the need to ‘do well’;  more visits to house-bound, elderly and sick people. 

The liturgy of the Word workshop was practical and there is a sense that the readers are generally improving, but its not great…yet.  As always, not everyone was able to attend the workshop, and it may be that some of the absentees may have benefitted from the workshop.  Mgr D advised that a Readers’ Manual is being prepared by him.


The  ‘Prayer of the Faithful’ (Bidding Prayers)  was also discussed, and Mgr D threw out a challenge for members of the Parish to prepare these prayers on a rota basis.  He had clear ideas on the length / brevity of these prayers, and it may be that we should return to this topic at another meeting, as there were no conclusions drawn on the night.

d.   Lenten Project: Outcome & communication with Sr Mary in Zambia  The stunning success of the Lenten Project with (probably) £25,000 raised once the Gift Aid is re-claimed, was the subject of much comment.  Sr Mary is aware that the Target (£15K) has been surpassed, and it was proposed that a proportion of the monies raised should be sent immediately, (by whatever means was used for the 2012 appeal),  so that the project to build the remaining houses could start as quickly as possible for the families concerned.  Kath Plant advised that she still had some work to do in finalizing the total amount, but mentioned that we were still holding on to a number of cheques which parishioners had made payable to the Presentation Sisters.  These cheques should be sent to them as soon as possible, and Paul Barry undertook to liaise with KP and have them sent to the Sisters during the week of 12 May.  Action:  KP and PJB to liaise on this.

e.   Corrina’s Homeless Meals initiative  PJB has maintained contact with Corrina Young on this project.  Her committee decided that they should see how things went with the meals at St George’s hall, (Cricket ground area), before committing further to our offer of use of the Parish Centre on a Friday evening.  In fact their first meal took place last Sunday evening (4 May), and she has promised to keep PJB informed of progress once her committee have assessed how things have gone so far.   From St Robert’s perspective, it is a ‘wait and see what happens next’ scenario.  PJB will ensure contact with Corrina before our next PPC meeting in July. 

f.   CCTV in St Robert’s Church  &  SJF Chapel Heating Updates  Paul Parker updated meeting on both topics.  The heating project is very close to being started shortly.  The CCTV issue brought about a lot of discussion with a number of concerns being expressed by councillors over the suitability of such a scheme for the church, and indeed, whether it was really necessary.  PP advised that he was working with Fr J and the contractor, with possibly 5 cameras to be installed at a cost of c£600.  He assured the meeting that the system, if installed, did not involve on-going viewing of the church, but it did give us the ability to check back if there had been any sort of incident.  The very installation would act as a deterrent to possible miscreants, as well as keeping ‘unsavoury characters’ in check.  PP advised that there had been 3 thefts over the previous 6 months and that there were occasionally unpleasant encounters with individuals who were not of the parish.  One had taken place just the morning before!  After a great deal of input, it was agreed that we would pray for guidance, that a consensus view on the way forward should be achieved , and that at the end of the day, a possible re-think on the viability of this project would be made.


5.     Youth Ministry Update  Mrs Joy O’Brien, and 9 of the children from the Youth Club, attended the meeting by prior arrangement for a full discussion with councillors.  A briefing paper had been drawn up before the meeting, which is re-produced here:

     1.  We need volunteers in planning and running the youth activities and events, especially the weekly youth club and  monthly Youth Mass.  We always have light snacks at Youth Club, and we call it ‘Ministry of sweets and savouries’.  Food brings young people together.  We would be very grateful if we can have a weekly rota to provide the snacks during the youth club.

       2. Designated volunteers/drivers who are willing to take young people to occasional trips and pilgrimages.

       3.  Support in raising funds for the Youth Ministry.  We hope to be self-sufficient and not  to depend too much on the parish to fund our activities.  Like for example, when the weather is warm, we try to be out or go to the Valley Gardens to play tennis.  However we need to pay for the court and equipment.  We are already planning a Ceilidh Night to raise funds.  We haven’t decided on the date yet, but we will let you know as soon as we have coordinated with the band.

       4.  We need extra Catechists for Sacramental Programmes (First Communion and Confirmation).


There was a lively discussion of all the issues which were raised.  Though clear-cut answers were not necessarily forthcoming, the following helpful comments were made:

Involvement (by teenagers) is key;   ‘Doing things’ is important;   Check out Junior SVP (JO’B is to meet Kate Rutherford, SVP President, along with some Youth Group leaders shortly.);  Can Parents of the youths involved become more involved themselves with the logistics etc of running a Youth Group, including financial support?;   Vision for the ‘Youth Group?;  More structure and a plan;  Make more of the National Youth Day in November.  Favourable comment was passed by councillors on the quality of the Youth involvement at their monthly Sunday evening Mass.  Plan trip dates and then seek out volunteer drivers (rather than the other way around);  Do any parishioners / parents have driving licences for minibuses etc?;  Can JO’Br make  a structured appeal from the pulpit during weekend Masses to convey their key needs?;  Paula Shanks suggested the idea of contacting DoE heads at SJF / StA to ask for Supporting Local Youth Groups to be added to the DoE community activities list. 

This was a very useful part of the Council Meeting in which the PPC were able to voice their support for the work of JO’Br with the Youth of the Parish.  Energy and enthusiasm for the success of the Youth Group were very evident, but it is a work in progress which requires much more support and involvement of adults from the Parish if JO’Br is not to feel that she is ‘on her own’.


6.  Hospitality, Meeting and greeting new parishioners – ‘Welcome Card’ specimen   This is also  a ‘work in progress’, and PJB circulated copies of a Welcome card picked up by Fr John from Reading. It needs improvement and some creative input, and the meeting suggested that the Youth might like to get involved!  Nimmi D’Cunha has kindly offered to put this to JO’Br along with other comments/ideas from the above minute.  It is important that the welcome card includes information on Planned Giving (& GADs), and also prompts the new parishioner to consider using their time and talents in support of the many Parish ministries.     


7.  Clergy Matters for discussion?   Mgr D made the following points and observations:

a.  He expressed appreciation for the generosity of the Parish during the Lent and Easter period, and for their support in the many facets of the Parish’s activities during this period;

b.  He mentioned the excellent financial support both for the Lenten Project and also the Easter offerings;

c.   He advised that a parishioner had made a generous donation of almost £4,000 to enable the purchase of a new electronic Clavinova to take place for use in the church at St Robert’s;

d.   He confirmed that the Parish had received a large Legacy from the Estate of Bernard Preston RIP, and had recently received £80,000 on account, with more to come in due course.  £50k has been put on the Parish Account with the Diocese, and £30K is being held on the parish local account for immediate use as required.

e.   Some of that money will be used to decorate the church, in particular the Sanctuary walls above the newly completed work (at a cost of £2,300 + VAT to include scaffolding, materials and the washing down of those areas).  Further work will take place on the side walls of the church, and a quote of £1,500 has been received for that.

f.   The refurbishment of the Flat 2?, Beverley House has been completed, and a 2 year contract at £800 rent per month has been signed by one of the contractors for his own occupation.


8.  Any Other Business:                       

a.   It was suggested that one of the large candles should be dedicated to Bernard Preston next year in recognition of his extreme generosity towards St Robert’s.  PP will take that forward.

b.   St Robert’s Day Open Air Mass and Festivities will be the main topic for discussion at the next meeting of the PPC.


9. Meeting  was brought to a close at 2135hrs with  a short prayer.




NEXT MEETING DATES :    15 July  2014,   16 September  2014,  18 November 2014.

                                      All Tuesdays,  730pm starts with proposed finishing times of 9pm.




Altar Servers

Paul P

Journey In Faith (RCIA)


Baptism Preparation


Knights of St. Columba






Brownies & Guides


Marriage Preparation




Mothers Prayers



Paul B



Catholic Club


Parent & Toddler Group


Catholic Womens league


Parish Lunch


Carers Support


Parish 200 Club

Paul B



Polish Community


Confirmation Preparation


Praying the Gospels


Children’s Liturgy Group




Christian Unity/Churches Together


Rosary Group


Church Cleaners



Paul P



St John Fisher School


Deanery Liaison




Divine Office


St Robert’s Parish Centre

Paul B

Eucharistic Ministers

Paul P.

St Robert’s C of E Pannal


First Sacraments Preparation




Flower Arrangers


Walking Group


Harrogate Hospital Chaplaincy


Youth Ministry