Our AGM was opened by Geoff Rowlands, the chairman of the PPC, who reminded us of some of the significant events of the past year – such as Fr Paul’s 25th anniversary, Rev Juan Carlos’ ordination to the Permanent Diaconate, 16 of our young people being Confirmed and 34 receiving Holy Communion for the first time. Social highlights included the Epiphany quiz, coach trip to Birmingham Christmas market, the altar servers’ sponsored walk, Christmas bazaar, Christmas lunch for senior parishioners, visit to the Black Country Museum. We enjoyed the opportunity to develop and enrich our faith through regular Spiritual Healing evenings, exploring the Scriptures through Lent with other local Churches, sharing a Passover meal, Good Friday Walk of Witness, Emmaus Walk and breakfast, weekly reflections on the Gospels during Advent and silent prayer and Lection Divina with John Seeney. Many thanks go to Kevin Boyle for once again putting together a pictorial history of the year for us, this really brings out just what an active parish St Albans is.
Kevin took us through the building and maintenance projects undertaken in 2014: risk assessments highlighted the need for a new fire escape in the Parish Hall, with magnetic gates that open automatically when the fire alarm goes off. We’ve had a new carpet in the hallway and new fridges in the kitchen. We are looking at installing a ramp/hand rail near the baptistry door as well as a new light there; paving slabs near the back gate; and a new floor covering, tables and chairs for the hall.
The new PPC constitution was unanimously accepted. This will be renewed annually along with the Parish Plan. The constitution now ensures that the sick and the housebound will have a chance to vote during elections for the PPC. The Head Teacher of St Alban’s School is now formally an ex officio member of the PPC. There will be an AGM in the first quarter of every year.
James Kissane spoke to us about the progress of the Sick and Retired Priests Fund. We have raised £18000 plus Gift Aid towards our allocated target of £40000, an excellent start and we still have 2 years to go. The money has been raised through special collections, fundraising activities, the annual collection, single gift pledges, Direct Debits and Standing Orders as well as the proceeds of the Christmas bazaar and 20% of the Church Hall rentals. Many thanks go to all who have worked so hard to meet our quota.
The meeting continued with tasty refreshments – so many cheeses to choose from! While we ate we considered what the strengths of our parish are, areas we would like to develop, what we should start doing, what we should stop doing and what is at the centre of our parish.
Geoff took feedback from the questions: the need for extra seating at particular times of the year was mentioned, and that sending people upstairs is not very inclusive and welcoming. It was decided to leave an extra row of chairs out permanently during the First Holy Communion preparation period. The need to fill up empty seats was also stressed, though it can be difficult to know if a seat is empty. The Building Committee will look into ways of safely increasing our permanent seating capacity. It was suggested that we communicate which PPC member is allocated as the link to each parish group by including it on the notice board. Catholic Truth Society leaflets and pamphlets could be made available as they used to be. The Repository should be relocated into the Parish Hall. A Youth Group for older teens as well as adult groups to discuss moral and social issues could be started. There was a comment that parishioners appreciated that the PPC had discussed issues put in the suggestion boxes and that the responses were made available on the notice board. It was suggested that the questions discussed at the AGM should be circulated to the whole parish for their responses.
A number of social events are planned for the parish including a table top sale on April 18th, a cheese and wine evening, family outing (possibly to Sherwood Forest), BBQ. It is hoped that eventually there will be something planned for every month.
Geoff closed the meeting for us with prayer. Many thanks to those who helped with tonight’s meeting and all who attended.