Parish Amalgamation Consultation

St Luke and Ss Peter & Paul Parishes, Salford

Paper 2: Considering Pastoral Provision

One of the essential elements of the amalgamation consultation process is to determine that the proposed new parish is able to meet the pastoral and spiritual needs of the people.

The amalgamation process asks us to consider:

  • How best can the new parish be served by one priest?
  • How best may preparation for baptisms, sacramental programmes, weddings and funerals be arranged?
  • How best may pastoral care be provided for the bereaved, sick and housebound?
  • Should parish organisations work together or remain distinct?

One Parish, One Priest

Whilst we currently have three priests, things will ultimately need to be arranged in such a way that one priest could cover everything. This may seem like a tall order but the whole emphasis in the restructuring of parishes throughout the diocese is that we develop and increase the involvement of lay people within each parish. This will be the focus of Hope in the Future during the coming year – Harvesting Our Talents – looking at the gifts and talents and charisms that each person can contribute to the mission of the Church in this area.

Having three priests for the time being gives us a bit of breathing space but we should not allow that to let us become complacent and think that we don’t have to address the longer term issues. It is also quite possible that, with us having three priests, we will be first to be called upon if there is a need to help out in other parts of the deanery or diocese.

Sacramental Life

Preparation for baptisms can easily be done in one place, with baptisms then taking place in either of our churches. We may need to look at the best times for the celebration of baptisms.

The sacramental programme is currently run differently in each of our two parishes. In looking at how to move forward with this in a single parish, we will be helped by new policy documents which are awaited from the diocese with regard to the sacramental programme for Reconciliation and Eucharist, as well as for Confirmation at the later age of 13. Any changes that these require will be implemented when they are published.

Preparation for weddings is a combination of a Marriage Preparation course provided in various parts of the diocese and each couple seeing the priest individually. What we may be able to develop in future, with appropriate helpers, is the ongoing support of married couples.

Funerals are arranged through the priest meeting with the family of the deceased and take place either in our churches or at the crematorium.

By and large, all of our current practice can be carried over into our new single parish, since these preparation elements can be handled by one priest (especially with increased lay assistance).

One of the things we will need to consider and make decisions about is the pattern of Sunday and weekday Masses. For the Sundays, we will need to do this in conjunction with our neighbouring parishes so that the priests are in a position to cover for one another (particularly in an emergency). At present we have a similar pattern of Masses in both of our churches. We might want to adjust this in a number of ways – both for Sundays and weekdays. We will particularly have to decide about the number of Sunday Masses we need and their timing. We will look to do this early in the New Year when we have a more established idea about numbers attending. For our weekday Masses, we can consider whether the current pattern is serving our needs or should be altered.

Pastoral Care

Pastoral care for the bereaved, sick and housebound is provided by a combination of the priests, members of the SVP and our Eucharistic ministers. There will be no need to change this approach when our new parish is formed – but those involved may be asked to minister across the whole of the new parish rather than just within the confines of one current parish.

It makes sense, where we have the same organisations present in both parishes (e.g. SVP or UCM), for them to work together, whether this means each organisation becoming a single group or simply closer working arrangements between the two. Certainly we should be moving away from the duplication of activities and should be recognising there is strength in numbers.

Schools

Formation of the new parish will not affect the schools that our children attend. The catchment areas for the schools (primary and secondary) will remain as they are now. We will continue to serve these schools as we currently do in terms of the involvement of the priests, the provision of governors and links with the parish communities. Part of Hope in the Future is about how the link between schools and parishes can be strengthened. 

Parish Leadership Team

 As part of developing our parishes across the diocese for the present and the future, Bishop John has asked that each parish should establish a “leadership” team – a group of parishioners who will oversee and co-ordinate parish activities. Here in the Salford deanery, following a very successful pilot scheme in Bolton, a “Lay Leadership” course was run during the past twelve months. Each parish was asked to send representatives to this course. They were involved in reflecting on some aspects of Scripture and theology, as well as considering very practical elements of parish life.

We are fortunate that we had seven parishioners who were able to complete this course and who are now willing to serve our current parishes and our new parish in this leadership role. It is important to recognise and stress that the group’s roles are overseeing and co-ordinating and encouraging the involvement of many other parishioners in parish activities rather than them being the ones who lead, organise and run all (or the majority of) activities. It is also highly likely that we will need to add to the membership of the Leadership Team in due course, when we determine what particular aspects of parish life we need to give emphasis to.

Pastoral Provision

Given all that is outlined in this paper, welcoming the establishment of the Parish Leadership Team, and knowing the goodwill of so many parishioners who are already involved in many ways, I am confident that the pastoral and spiritual needs of all those within the proposed new parish can be adequately met.

You can respond to these questions either on the printed form available or download the form here.

Rev Canon Michael Cooke VG

Parish Priest

26 October 2018

Previous Consultation Paper

Parish Boundaries