Parish Annual Report 2020
ST MARY’S EUXTON – ANNUAL PARISH REPORT
This Report covers the period since February 2019.
Sharon Beirne joined the Parish Council this year and we have operated with 11 members (7 elected and 4 ex-officio/co-opted). The Parish Council has met 11 times during the period.
As a reminder, the Parish Council members are:
Fr Gerry McCusker Ex-officio member
Deacon Gerry Fishwick Ex-officio member
Michael Thompson Elected member and Chairman
Martin Ainsworth Elected member and Vice Chairman
Sharon Beirne Elected member
Mary Earnshaw Elected member
Jim Hill Elected member
Peter Kitching Elected member
Jacqui O’Donnell Elected member
Nick Fish Ex-officio member and Treasurer
Tom Parker Co-opted member and Secretary
Worship & Pastoral
The Archdiocesan Sacramental Preparation programme has continued throughout the year, and has been well supported by catechist volunteers and parents (and other family members) alike. The sacrament of First Holy Communion was celebrated in May. There were no Confirmations last year - as a reminder: the age of Confirmation within the Archdiocese has changed from “year 4” to “year 8” – however St Mary’s “year 8s” have already been confirmed and so the next Confirmations for our children will be in 2021. It is also worth noting that the Confirmation preparation is now organised at Archdiocesan level and is delivered via the high schools by-passing any Parish involvement which we regard as regrettable.
Baptism services have taken place on a monthly basis during the year, with preparation meetings being held in the candidate’s homes.
There have been numerous liturgical, sacramental and ecumenical meetings throughout the period at both Archdiocesan and Pastoral Area level, in addition to the Parish involvement in Churches Together in Euxton.
Volunteers play a key part in the Parish’s Worship and Pastoral programme with Eucharistic Ministers, lay readers, altar servers and the Children’s Liturgy team having been integral parts of our church services. Pastoral care also takes place in the community at Buckshaw, Euxton Park and at individual elderly and infirm parishioner’s homes, with Holy Communion distributed on a weekly or fortnightly basis. The Parish supports and fully complies with the Archdiocesan safeguarding Policy, and a Parish Safeguarding Policy has been agreed and published.
Attendance at the Children’s Liturgy (“Little Church”) has declined considerably this year with the effect of having bi-monthly meetings exacerbated by the implementation of Archdiocesan Safeguarding guidelines restricting adult attendance, resulting in very few children now attending. We are currently considering alternatives to provide our children with a regular, meaningful (to them) involvement in our Sunday services.
Our young parishioners who last year were pursuing the Archdiocesan “Faith in Action” programme successfully achieved the programme and gained their Gold and Silver awards, which were presented to them in June. Unfortunately only 1 young parishioner expressed an interest in FIA this year and, in truth, there needs to be more than 1 candidate to make the programme work. We intend to re-promote FIA to the high school pupils, but in reality FIA will only prosper if young people want to do it!
This year has seen a series of Parish meetings relating to Synod 2020, aimed at providing a forum to enable open discussion and to distil ideas and formulate our Parish input to the Synod process. Parishioner participation in the Synod process has been very good and (we expect) will result in our Parish providing an excellent input into the final Synod considerations later this year. As a reminder, the Parish has 3 Synod members: Fr Gerry, Deacon Gerry (the Pastoral Area Deaconate representative) and Martin Ainsworth (the Parish lay representative).
A detailed year-end financial statement is published to complement this Report.
As a broad summary:
Our income and expenditure have been in line with our budget predictions over the period. In general, “normal” income levels for 2019 are lower than those of 2018 – with Offertory income continuing its slow decline. Expenditure levels are significantly higher than those of 2018 – this being almost entirely due to the installation of new boilers in the church and the erection of boundary fencing.
It always needs to be remembered that our Church and associated buildings are Grade 2 Listed, and any maintenance requirement quickly becomes very expensive! It should be noted that the Offertories themselves are insufficient to meet financial requirements of the Parish, and special fund-raising activities may be necessary in the future to meet longer-term needs.
Buildings & Cemetery
As mentioned above, this year has seen us undertake 2 major projects – the replacement of the church central heating boilers and the erection of a security fence around our boundary (the latter being necessary to prevent unauthorised access to our property which had seen fly-tipping and apparent drug-taking taking place). Additional to the above, this year has also seen the usual programme of general maintenance and repair activities.
During the last year we have commenced interments in the “final” section of the Cemetery but there is no need to panic about the Cemetery being “nearly full” as the existing space will not be filled for many years (at current “usage”).
We have continued to hold “volunteer days” throughout the year to clear and generally tend to the garden areas surrounding the church and cemetery – these days are well-supported and will be continued to keep these areas tidy and pleasing to the eye!
We expect the coming year to be mainly one of “general maintenance and repair”.
The Parish Centre remains in regular use for both Parish and non-Parish events and hiring fees are helping to defray the operational and maintenance costs. It should be noted that we consider the Centre to be primarily a facility for Parish activities and have rejected a number of usage requests that would have affected our ability to have the Centre generally available for Parish use – similarly we have refused bookings for events which don’t fit our vision of what is reasonable in the Centre (as well as having regard for the peace of our neighbours!).
Health and Safety
An Archdiocesan Health and Safety inspection of the Parish took place during the year, with some remedial activities being undertaken as a result.
There is an ongoing problem with exhaust pollution in the church car park – caused by “school run users” who sit in their cars with the engine running. New Car Park signage was installed during the year which clearly identifies the car park as being the church car park and private property and asked all users to be respectful of all other users and to desist from running their engines when parked up. There is little sign of any improvement in users’ behaviour at school-run time – I don’t think we know what the answer to this long-standing issue is!!
Reference has already been made in this Report to the contribution of our Parish volunteers, and it is appropriate to recognise the essential work that all of our Parish volunteers undertake – without their support it would be impossible for the Parish Priest to “keep the show on the road”.
So…. a word of thanks to all the Parish volunteers….. thanks!!