Linked Parish Meeting Notes 17th April 2024

Meeting led by Fr Martin. Began at 7:30pm.

1) Opening Prayer

Fr Martin opened the meeting with the Jubilee Prayer for 2025 from Pope Francis.

Father in heaven,
may the faith you have given us
in your son, Jesus Christ, our brother,
and the flame of charity enkindled
in our hearts by the Holy Spirit,
reawaken in us the blessed hope
for the coming of your Kingdom.

May your grace transform us into tireless cultivators of the seeds of the Gospel.
May those seeds transform from within both humanity and the whole cosmos
in the sure expectation
of a new heaven and a new earth,
when, with the powers of Evil vanquished,
your glory will shine eternally.

May the grace of the Jubilee
reawaken in us, Pilgrims of Hope,
a yearning for the treasures of heaven.
May that same grace spread
the joy and peace of our Redeemer
throughout the earth.

To you our God, eternally blessed,
be glory and praise for ever.


Fr Martin highlighted that 2025 is a Jubilee Year for the worldwide Catholic Church. The motto for the upcoming Jubilee Year is ‘Pilgrims of Hope’. The motto aims to give a concise sense of the meaning of the jubilee journey. The 2025 jubilee will be a year of hope and trust in a world suffering the impacts of war, the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased threats to the climate.
Fr Martin explained that It is also a significant year for the Chelmsford linked Parishes as it is the 180th year anniversary of the mission to Chelmsford. This encourages a focus for our local hopes and opportunities here in Chelmsford.

2) Year of Prayer 2024 in Chelmsford

Fr Martin explained that in preparation for the 2025 Jubilee Year, 2024 has been designated a Year of Prayer. The Holy Father has asked that 2024 be year of prayer, as a preparatory year for the Jubilee. In preparation for the Jubilee, dioceses and parishes have been invited to promote initiatives to remind people of the centrality of both individual prayer and community prayer. As a community here in Chelmsford this Autumn there will be a series of talks focussed around prayer, specifically the diversity and richness to be found in different traditions and charisms in the worldwide church. Currently planned are events around Augustinian, Missionary, Ignatian, Servite and Monastic Prayer.
Parishioners expressed that as well as talks it would be useful to have opportunities to experience prayer, not just academic talks.
Others noted that perhaps a focussed Day of Prayer similar to Days of Mercy could be arranged with opportunity for longer periods of exposition.
An introductory session on Prayer ‘for beginners’ was suggested, with many feeling that this would be helpful for those who struggle with prayer.
Following the success of the the Chelmsford Christian Churches linked walk of witness a Prayer Roads initiative is being developed which would include the Catholic Community. Sr Clare said more details would be publicised when finalised.

3) Pilgrims of Hope (Jubilee Year 2025)

All attending the meeting were given a letter written by Pope Francis for the promotion of the new evangelisation for the Jubilee 2025. The materials are available on the following website
Fr Martin highlighted the series of talks at Brentwood Cathedral during Lent that give a context to the Synod which reconvenes this Autumn. Following the Synod, we will doubtlessly explore the reflections of the worldwide Synod participants and reflect on the impact of this important experience of the Holy Spirit speaking to our times.

4) Parish Partnership and the Vision for Chelmsford

Bishop Alan in his Pastoral letter to all of Epiphany 2024 asked all to help him implement with a new urgency the recommendation of the vision for Brentwood diocese.
Fr Martin reaffirmed the vision for Chelmsford is parishes working together to avoid replicating activities that may work as well or better by working together. This includes our current linked parishes, and Blessed Sacrament in Melbourne. To implement this three representatives from each of the four Chelmsford Parishes are coming together to focus upon how the parish communities can work to support each other. The first meeting is at the end of this month. The twelve people approached represent the different elements of our Parish life. These include our schools, communities and individuals with specialisms such as finance and buildings. This is not a executive group, but an advisory and exploratory group. Names and contact details will be circulated shortly, so that they can be a point of contact for parishioners.
Fr Martin explained that Bishop Alan has asked that finance and property is a particular focus as the diocese. We need to ensure that our buildings are fit for purpose and represent true value in our mission of proclaiming the gospel.
Fr Martin continued that the Parish Partnership also supports priests. The more that communities and parishioners work together, the more time Priests can spend on pastoral and liturgical activities for the benefit of many.
Parishioners responded that they find meetings like tonight's very helpful. After a vote all agreed that twice yearly meetings for all to attend in the spring and autumn would be appreciated.

5) Update on Parish Office and clergy accommodation

Fr Martin reminded all of the Condition report of last year and conditions at St Philip’s Priory that prompted the decision to sell the property. This included an initial £750k of remedial work to make the property safe and habitable, excluding remodelling it further to be fit for purpose. The wider question of whether it would be the right property for the Priests of Chelmsford in the future and the Parish office leaves us with the strong impression that there are too many difficulties, and the related cost is disproportionate to what could be achieved in proceeding with renovation and remodelling.
Fr Martin explained that unfortunately the hoped for sale to a Catholic Charity has not been possible, and that the property will now be marketed on the open market after receiving 4 valuations.

Our Lady Immaculate Finance committee have approved the sale, and the Chapter of Canons at Brentwood diocese have advised that a property to buy for clergy of the Parish should be sought in the immediate vicinity to Our Lady Immaculate Church.
Fr Martin affirmed that this would include the sale of the chapel, and that options for the Traditional Latin Mass community are being actively considered and this will be a priority in the coming months.
Fr Martin explained that various options were being considered for clergy housing. Currently our priests are in accommodation next to Holy Name Church, St Augustine and New Hall leaving the Parish Office in St Philip's Priory. Ideally all would be located together for the support of our Priests and the efficient running of the Parish. Accommodation near Our Lady Immaculate Church is being sought for the Parish office and a priest(s). This may include in the short term securing a loan from the diocese.

Fr Martin in response to a question regarding who makes the decision about property including St Philip's explained that in Canon Law the house is owned by the Parish, but the parish is part of the Brentwood Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust charity. Decisions that involve finance in excess of £10k require the approval of the Diocesan Board.
Some parishioners responded that they have particular attachment to St Philip's given its association with the Catholic community for around 100 years. Fr Martin explained that many options have be considered regarding the clergy and office housing, but especially with respect to the vision for Chelmsford outlined in the vision document regarding the number of Priests expected for Chelmsford going forward, it is important to understand that significant change is a currently reality across the Diocese, including Chelmsford. https://www.dioceseofbrentwood...

Fr Martin encouraged all to reflect on the 180 years, we can get this right and we need to recapture the 1845 spirit needs that same missionary spirit. General agreement from all attending was to continue to pursue moving the Parish Office and Priests close to Our Lady Immaculate Church.

6) Finance and Fundraising

For further financial transparency in the Parish Newsletter will be a brief explanation of income and expenditure standardised across our three Parish churches. In the Parish Magazines there will be further information and a yearly update of balance sheets and extraordinarily expenditure.
Parishioners were asked to consider being a part of fundraising committees. Upcoming is the need for a new organ in Our Lady Immaculate, of which a donation has been received of £1000. The ceiling in St Augustine of Canterbury church needs repair and future works requiring fundraising in Holy Name. Anyone who would like to be a part of the fundraising teams was invited to contact the Parish Office.

7) Parish Pilgrimages

Fr Martin explained the significance of Pilgrimages in our Catholic life. Prayer takes us on a pilgrim journey, on the path to God. While pilgrimage should be an integral part of the Jubilee not everyone can visit Rome, although the hope was to be able to have one during the Jubilee Year. Further suggestions were Walsingham, Krakow, and Aylesford.
Some Parishioners expressed that day retreats in our Parish churches continue to be well received. Another suggested a retreat around marriage. Fr Martin also explained that there is a hope that a youth worker will be in place shortly.

8) AOB - Open Questions

Please can the statue from Our Lady Immaculate Parish Hall move so that it is not damaged by the activities there that take place there.
Parishioners were supportive of further projects for the Parish youth, and ways to include them further. Fr Martin welcomed all suggestions.

Fr Martin Closed the meeting at 9pm with the Eastertide Regina Caeli Prayer:

Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia;

Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,

Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia:

Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia.

The Son you merited to bear, alleluia,

Has risen as he said, alleluia.

Pray to God for us, alleluia