Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey


Deanery Meeting July 2010

Deanery of St Joseph


Faith in the Future Deanery Meeting


Thursday 8 July 2010

St Thomas of Canterbury



Attendance: The Becket Suite was almost full to capacity with 65 people attending, including the following priests and parishioners:

               Our Lady of Lourdes and St Gregory              Fr Gerald Murphy                                                  4 parishioners

Sacred Heart                                                                                                                                      12 parishioners

St Brendan/St John                                         Fr Michael Cooke                                                  4 parishioners

St Ethelbert                                                       Fr Duncan McVicar                                              11 parishioners

St James the Great/St Joseph                          Fr Patrick Tansey                                                   6 parishioners

St Mary                                                              Fr Henry Jones                                                       2 parishioners

St Peter & St Paul [Not a parish]                                                                                                         2 attenders                               

St Thomas of Canterbury                                 Canon William Byrne & Fr Patrick Quinlan       12 parishioners

St Vincent                                                         Fr John Rigby                                                        3 parishioners

St William of York                                           Fr John Mackie                                                      0 parishioners


Apologies received from: Fr Richard Aspden, Fr Bryan Cunningham, Fr Michael Fasnacht, Fr Michael Johonnett, Fr Francis McCauley


Introduction:Fr Cooke (as Dean) welcomed everyone and opened the meeting with prayer. He outlined the purpose and structure of the meeting and then invited Canon Byrne to give a brief outline of the background to devising the Faith in the Future discussion materials. The aim of this first deanery meeting was to encourage/develop/celebrate cooperative working within and beyond the parishes.


Consultation:In the first part of the meeting, each of the parishes represented was invited to say a little about how they had engaged in the deanery Faith in the Future process and to highlight any significant outcomes. Parish involvement in the process had ranged from the simple distribution of the leaflets with no follow-up, through small group meetings, larger parish meetings, and written responses (being collated). One parish indicated that it had done a similar exercise for the Millennium and was still using the outcomes from that as a pastoral plan.


The significant points reported to or emerging at this meeting were:

  1. It is regrettable that all the parish priests are not present tonight
  2. We need to have more inter-parochial events of a spiritual or social nature (and interaction between parish groups)
  3. We need better communication – being more open and using new media; perhaps a deanery website (or page on diocesan website) linked to/from parish websites
  4. One of our main strengths and resources is the goodwill of the people
  5. We should explore the introduction of the Permanent Diaconate. Why have the laity never been consulted when this has been discussed “by the diocese”?
  6. Recognise that good things can, by their nature, exclude others. So, we need to get people who have been involved or done jobs for a long time to share these with new willing volunteers
  7. Involvement through music may be a way to increase participation from young people
  8. We need to look after those in their vintage years – and, in turn, they can pray for us
  9. Some parishes are experiencing a revival in ecumenical activity
  10. The possibility and/or value of establishing parish councils was raised
  11. Our priests are working very hard and parishioners are anxious about them
  12. “What would we do if our priests weren’t here?”
  13. Concentrate efforts on priests/parishes working together in the clusters
  14. Establish the strengths and weaknesses of each parish; match skills to needs
  15. Some parishes have had a difficult time in recent years with vacancies between appointments, uncertainty about their future or learning to share a priest
  16. Small parishes can still be vibrant communities
  17. Groups like the Legion of Mary can involve people of all ages (children to adults) and be a way of keeping in touch with other parishes
  18. The priests who are available should minister in a fair way across the deanery
  19. Things that do not depend on the priest can/should be done by others
  20. We are all proud of our parishes – but we must support one another


Cooperation: For the second part of the meeting, attendees met in mixed groups to discuss how we might like to move forward at parish, district and deanery levels. Each group was asked to make brief notes of their discussion and the following points emerged:


Group 1

  1. Very keen to lessen burden on present church cleaners (some 80+) to share the load
  2. Encourage young people with talent into a church musical group (clarinet, flute, guitar)
  3. Draw younger people to join the Parish Dramatic Society
  4. Important that the parish does in fact look at itself – as lay persons. Is there a structure? Do parishioners know who does what?
  5. Are we reaching out within the parish before we ambitiously take ourselves across parish/deanery boundaries?


Group 2

  1. Deacons are not the answer. Where would they come from?
  2. The answer must come from the lay community and be led from within – not another layer of ordained ministry
  3. The authority must somehow come from within the community
  4. The parish must be the unit – the community must somehow communicate with each other within the community; not just up to priest/bishop but also then with each other within the district and deanery
  5. Internet Café at church? Google Groups?


Group 3

  1. As a deanery, we address one achievable project – with a beginning, a middle and an end – something to aim for, e.g.:

·        How to get the children and families back to church

·        How to bring lapsed Catholics back to the Church (“Catholics Come Home” is a ready-made project)

·        How to encourage parents to continue attending church after baptism of their child (Existing project in USA)

·        Promoting youth activities – initially sports, music, etc; Zion Community


Group 4

  1. Parish:

·        Do we make people feel welcome?

·        Do we use all their talents?

·        How can we get more people involved?

·        We need to approach people more

  1. District:

·        More information pooled

·        Website to keep parish informed

·        We must work together and pool resources / share talents

  1. Deanery:

·        Deanery Council?

·        Offer training so people feel more confident in their jobs (e.g. Eucharistic Ministers)

·        Go forward – Print out a Report

·        Smaller meetings to take the parish views forward

  1. Why are the young turning away? Are we doing enough in our schools?


Group 5

  1. Parish:

·        Need for “Welcome Groups” – could be useful with Baptism (see below)

·        Coffee after Mass a great asset (socially)

·        Young Readers!

·        Parish Administrators (paid)

  1. District:

·        Concern that Baptism is becoming more of a social event than a sacrament (Also First Communion)

·        More Eucharistic Ministers + Training

·        Open up any trips (Walsingham, etc) to other parishes

·        How do we communicate between age groups in parish/district?

  1. Deanery:

·        “We need more priests.” Isn’t there another way around this problem?


Group 6

  1. Priority should be “evangelisation” – need to reach out to people where they are, especially the young, the young married, etc – the witness of the Church
  2. There are sufficient priests in Bolton for the purpose of offering Mass regularly across the town [not all agree] but we, as a community, need to help the elderly without transport
  3. Need to look at pastoral activity – e.g. priests visiting the elderly to offer reconciliation and absolution


Group 7

  1. Social meetings in parishes and between deaneries
  2. Afternoon events for the elderly and disabled; evening events for others
  3. Ecumenical participation between all districts
  4. Must engage the youth – Youth Masses within the deanery; Folk Masses; Family Masses
  5. Training of deacons asap
  6. Reaching out to people not coming to Church
  7. Eucharistic Ministers


Group 8

  1. Do we need deacons? Are they valuable?
  2. Deanery training for Ministers and Readers, Servers, etc
  3. Employ people within the deanery to do admin work
  4. Keep parish communities together
  5. What do you do if the PP won’t let you?
  6. District – sort out Masses
  7. Join groups (such as SVP) within parishes
  8. District magazine
  9. Everybody has a job
  10. Enabling people to do things
  11. Schoenstatt Movement within district
  12. Mass for sick or disabled



Group 9

  1. How to tap talent among laity? Could have sheets at back of church for people to give names and what they can offer in terms of skills, etc. Pool the gifts written on those sheets with other parishes
  2. Have more meetings like this one
  3. Eucharistic Adoration makes it all work. Once we allow Christ in, He does the work. It happens when we bring our 5 loaves and 2 fish to Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration
  4. Each of us has a power to make something happen. We need to leave here with a personal decision to do something, however small
  5. Everyone has come here tonight with good will.
  6. The talents must not be wasted – we need to draw the talent out of each other


Group 10

This group did not record any points from their discussion


Conclusion:In drawing the meeting to a close,Fr Cooke:

·        Commented briefly on a few of the emerging themes and reminded participants that the aim of this first deanery meeting had been to encourage/develop/celebrate cooperative working within and beyond the parishes; it was about “vision” and “identities”

·        Sought the views of those present about how best to follow this up, perhaps in terms of meetings at district level. It was decided that we should have a further deanery meeting prior to moving to district groupings [Date to be decided]

·        Gave details of the Deanery Mass for the Papal Visit (2 September at St Ethelbert’s)

·        Alerted people to A Passion for Bolton (Easter 2011) and spoke briefly about interfaith work, community cohesion and The Bolton Vision, using these as examples of opportunities for us, as people of faith, to get involved in the wider Bolton community

·        Thanked everyone for participating in the meeting and thanked Canon Byrne and the parishioners of St Thomas of Canterbury for their hospitality

·        Concluded the meeting with a prayer





Deanery Prayer

[Copies of this prayer, used at the beginning of the meeting, were made available for people to take home]


St Joseph, patron of our diocese and patron of our deanery,

we ask your intercession as we gather together today.


You supported Mary as she co-operated with God and brought his Son into our world.

May we support one another, priests and people, as we each seek to respond to God’s calling.


You cared for the infant Jesus as he grew and developed in his humanity.

May we care for all who are entrusted to us and help them grow to full human maturity.


You played a minor but significant role in God’s plan of salvation.

May we recognise the importance of playing our part, often in the ordinary and repetitive things of life, in order to bring about God’s will.


With you as our patron and guide may we be encouraged in our calling.

fatherly in our care, and always ready to co-operate with God.


We ask you to bring these, our prayers, to Jesus and implore his blessing on our work of service. Amen.