Stewards of the Gospel








4th February 2018

Following the presentations at all masses last weekend (27th/28th January) about the renewal and restructuring of our diocese, about 60 parishioners gathered in the Community Centre this Sunday to discuss and respond to what they had heard. It was an informative and positive meeting. If you weren’t able to attend, please see the summary below.
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‘Working Together to Evangelise our Diocese’ Parish Meeting 4.2.18
Meeting started: 10.45am
Number present: approx. 50-60  (The overwhelming majority being white, middle-aged and older.)
Chair: Caroline Dixon (CD)
Deputy Chair: Joan Murphy (JM)
Note-taker: James Johnson (JJ)
  • CD Opened the meeting with a welcome and outlined the format and purpose of the meeting.
  • CD gave an explanation of the next steps to the questions/responses from previous week. Also outlined:
    • More quickly than 2035.
    • Short/medium/long-term
    • Short-term to 2019: parish & inter-parish meetings. eg Collier Row mtg with SotG next Wednesday.
    • After agreement about proposals by and for our parishes, movement of priests starts 2019 up to 2023.
    • If don’t agree, we need to state reasons and make suggestions.
    • Long-term by 2035.
  • Many written questions submitted about the role and placement of priests. CD explained how the SotG had been meeting regularly in Brentwood with each other and priests. Obvious anxiety across the board.
  • ‘Renewing’ aspect is about spiritual renewal as well as the laity having a greater involvement in the running of parishes in a way not done before because of the increased workloads of the Parish Priests.

Questions/issues from the floor and responses from CD:

  • Questions about ‘Lay-Leaders’ and their recruitment:
    • Needs to be thought through as to what, how, where, when in our parish. Training will be available.
    • Not all answers are available now.
  • Current lack of volunteers:
    • No obvious answer.
  • Concerns about changes to number, location and times of Masses.
    • All will unfold in due course.
  • Perhaps we will have an inter-parish committee to make these decisions with the priests.
  • Concern about the size of our church or possible closure.
    • There are no current plans for closing our church.
  • Plan to sell ‘No.1’ site and use funds to enlarge our church and pastoral centre, inter-linked. ‘Historic Churches’ committee are on-board with this.
  • Concern about what could be built on site of ‘No.1’ and the Diocesan position re. selling-off land.
  • Need a parish committee to meet regularly with Fr. Tom to discuss the fabric plans and to ensure all parishioners are made aware of plans and have an input, perhaps through a larger parish meeting with Fr. Tom. Presently there is a lack of information to the parish about plans.
  • Better communication needs to take place, eg. Through a regular meeting of a Parish Council and/or a Buildings committee.
  • The priests will be responsible for Sacramental preparation and the laity will play a much greater role in other aspects of parish work and supporting the parish priest.
  • Levels of decision-making need to be established in parishes, across the Diocese as well as nationally.
  • An increase in the number of Deacons may be needed to help plug the gap.
  • Reps from Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle to speak to our Diocese and/or us about the pros and cons of new ways of working.
  • A re-education of the priests as well as the laity in the new ways of working needs to take place.
  • JJ spoke, pulling together the threads of a number of issues and questions raised, the essence being that we can’t look back but need to learn from our past experiences to inform the going forward. The role of the priest is Canonically laid down as having full responsibility for his parish under the auspices of the Diocese. Although his primary role is saving souls through the administration of the Sacraments and his preaching, he will have to find new ways of more fully delegating responsibilities for other tasks whilst retaining overall responsibility for the outcomes. The re-establishing of a formal Parish Council is paramount first step from which other groups can flow, to which other groups will be accountable and by which all parishioners can be kept more fully informed and consulted.
  • CD formally brought the meeting to a close at 11.30am



Below you will find some of the questions and comments posted in the box at the back of the church after the presentations at masses on 27th/28th January:

About priests

To what extent do priests feel able to pass on responsibility for certain aspects of parish activity?

The most important activity for the priest is the Mass and Sacraments

The priest in position MUST be in good health in order to cope with this workload- important and urgent.

Why are there going to be extra priests serving at one church

Are the priests on board with this? Laity can’t seem to get a hearing so far! Laity could organise each parish but what about the priest in charge? Will each parish be doing its own thing or will they all be based on a fixed model?(See C of E parishes)

Will we still have Father Tom or will it be shared and will we sometimes have another priest?

Will there still be a dedicated priest for each location? There should be as those in need will have further to travel causing further alienation to the vulnerable.

Would St. Edward’s not have an assistant priest to assist Father Tom in this restructuring agenda?

Why can’t priests marry? Surely this would solve the problem of lack of priests. What are the pope’s views?

2 priests to cover 5 parishes will be v difficult to manage

Are there student priests as 2 parishes for one priest is too much hard work.

Will the old system of priests moving on still be the case every 10 years?

Will the priest from Gidea Park come to say Mass at St. Edward’s and vice versa?

Can we bring priests here from other places: Poland, India etc

Won’t priests be too exhausted to properly share Christ’s message?

Will they be effective and enthusiastic enough after lengthy undertakings?

I like the idea of parish groupings and 2 priests in our group.

There will be a lot of work for our priests.

Concerns re priest workloads.

Are we short of priests in training? – we need to pray for this as it is the main problem.

What will happen in the future when a priest is sick? Will one priest cover 3 parishes?

Have you looked at why people don’t want to be priests? May this be about lives of faith or our religion itself- should we try to aid these problems?

2 priests to cover Gidea Park, Collier Row, Romford and Harold Hill seems too few.

Will we get a new priest to take this forward?

There seems to be an imbalance of priests/ churches:

La Salette has 2 priests and will cover 2 churches

Upminster/ Hornchurch has 2 priests for 3 churches

Romford has 2 priests for 4 churches

Why is the smallest parish having 2 priests? The only way this would be possible is if the Romford parish building is expanded, yet this would take years for funding, so how will it work?

Lay Leaders/ volunteer helpers

How can we be sure lay leaders will be accepted by the congregation as they lead?  Will it lead to any conflict?

Will lay people be able to give sacraments ie last rites or for the sick?

We need to think about how we can get more volunteers and make them into social groups so that volunteers are the majority and not the minority. Our priests will need a lot of support as this is a lot to ask of them. The slides mention this will be done by 2035 but this should be done in a few years (max 10).

Hopeful that more people will come forward to help than the same volunteers doing everything.

Complex- need a better understanding of where lay people need to help.

More training for our leaders involving diversity of cultures.

Concerns re number of people who will actually volunteer. I am an attendee but not a good joiner-in! No mention of the role of deacons- surely something which should be developed.

Who decides who becomes a lay leader? A committee or the priest?

How can we attract people into training for leadership and management, especially the youth.

How much training will the Laity need?

How will lay people be chosen?

Who will train lay people? Is this the bishop or priests?

Will sacraments be celebrated by priests or lay people?

We struggle to get volunteers at the moment, eg our scouting group cannot persuade parents to help. So how do you propose to encourage people?

About Masses

 Does this mean we will have just one Mass on Sundays?

Suggest Sunday evening Masses.

We have to get used to fewer Masses and more services of the Word/ Holy Communion.

How will it affect our Mass times?

We have always been instructed to be consistent in our own choices for Mass times and not choose a more convenient time for us at another parish.

Will every parish still have at least one Mass on Sunday every Sunday?

By changing the Mass times and locations to wider areas people within the diocese will be alienated if they cannot attend.

Is the intention to have a dedicated weekly mass at each church or would members of the congregation be expected to travel to a different church each week for mass?

St. Edward’s is already at capacity each week so how would this be managed?

I hope there will be afternoon or evening mass in the future please.

Will we have the same mass times?

Will there be at least one mass each weekend at St. Edward’s or Gidea Park?

What impact will the restructuring have on the number of masses at our church? If a reduction, what will the alternative worship sessions include?

What times will those mass changes be?

Changing mass times will put a strain on schools esp. covering first communions and confirmationWill Sunday Masses rotate between the various churches?

Does it mean there will be fewer masses is our parish? A worry since the 3 masses we have now do not meet fully the big population of this parish.

Will parishioners be expected to attend mass in Gidea Park or Harold Hill? Will parishioners from those parishes have to attend here if there is no priest available at theirs?

Will there be more or fewer masses?

If the parish times change, will there be more or less morning and evening masses?

What would be mass times and how many masses?

If there are fewer masses at St. Eds each week how will we fit into the church?

About Youth

Youth involvement vital- problems when they go to University.

If parishes are linked will the confirmation programme change? Ie back to age 14 in line with Gidea Park?

New youth groups should be linked to encourage a greater community/ Christ like spirit. More activities so no one loses interest.

Like the idea of youth group in churches as my children do not attend catholic schools.

In what ways will you make the youth involved in the parish?

About Schools

Will it affect the school’s catchment areas? Will St. Edward’s catchment area be widened?

Do schools and youth services funded by the diocese encourage children to pursue a future in the Church?

How will this affect our schools?

Less personal- school forms- priests will not know all children. Will there be a team of lay people to support this? – very difficult situation.

I would like more information about how our education system/ link to the diocese will be affected. Our youth are our future.

Will the school catchment areas change as the parish structures change?

School applications- will the way these are dealt with change?

No mention of our catholic primaries and secondaries in the deanery becoming multi academy trusts.

About Buildings

Hoping for plans to enlarge St. Edward’s church capacity and develop the Community Centre.

Are there plans to extend the church?

Often standing room only at St. Edward’s. How can limiting number of masses and locations ease this?

Our church may need to be more spacious to accommodate other church- goers.

Will the proposal have any impact on plans to develop the buildings and facilities here or at other churches in the groupings?

What will happen to the number one site? Will the Community Centre project still happen? Will the Hall be renovated?

If St. Edward’s is expanded, how will parking be addressed? How will we ensure that access is equitable to the disabled and those with transport problems?

What will happen to the presbyteries no longer occupied?

Could our schools provide parishioners with opportunities for services? Communion?

What’s happening with the community centre building?

What will the changes mean in terms of the planned changes to the community centre?

The buildings in our parish need updating NOW not in the distant future. If possible, parish funds need injection from other parishes.

Is it still worth giving to the building fund? Will we get the money back if it’s not needed (ie if our church is closed?)

About Locations

How will marriages/ baptisms/ funerals be split evenly across all locations with limited resources?

Great idea re our deanery. Makes sense to link Romford/ Collier Row with one priest as those parishes feed St. Peter’s and St.Patrick’s schools, and Gidea Park/ Harold Hill parishes as those feed St. Ursula’s school.

Are we going to remain in this location?

How will the merging of parishes be done smoothly? Will all members meet in one parish on certain occasions?


 Will a business person be employed to run the parishes? This would enable the priest to focus on developing faith.

More involvement with other Christian churches and other faiths needed.What does evangelise mean?

How is the hospital going to be served?

St Edward’s is a small church- will it be closed up?

Caritas is a global charity organisation of 100+ Charities so which ones would the youth be involved with?

We have Caritas in Mauritius- how can we come together?

Why by 2035? Far too long. Should be in the next 3-5 years.

Would be good to have a parish prayer/ prayer card to help all think about the challenges ahead- say it at every mass and every day.

There is a need for all the stakeholders to have frequent meetings to discuss the ways forward.

When will we join with Gidea Park?

Will there be more time for Adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament?

When will these changes take effect in our deanery?

St Edward’s is the first parish of Romford and should be protected above all others.

Lots of talk about the internet. What about those with no internet access?

It’s important to continually update the congregation as to progress. Also to emphasise the importance on the youth and parents on their role for the future of the church.

Generally positive proposals. We need to break with narrow silo based parishes dependent on a single priest with his own emphases. We need to think more ‘horizontally’ and think beyond sacraments-

-young people



-evangelise/ renewal etc etc

But also we need to avoid temptation to be ‘relevant’ so much that we sound ever more like the secular world. That won’t make disciples of Christ.

Is St Cedd’s in Goodmayes part of the Brentwood diocese? The priests there are also part of the La Salette missionaries.

How is Caritas different from Cafod? Apart from monetary contribution, how does one participate in their activities?

Concerned about losing our parish identity and community. How much support will be given by “us”- not good attendance at meetings.

Proposals or imposals!

2 priests serving 4 parishes would likely impact on the parish and people.

There are so many priests in Africa particularly Nigeria where there are up to 6 priests serving a parish. Can they not be utilised in our parishes? Or from other countries where there are more than enough. The Catholic church is one all over the world and priests should have opportunities in celebrating Mass in disadvantaged parishes.

Integration of choirs into St. Edward’s.

We should consider having a bible study within the week.

I studied youth work at university. How do I take part in this?

How are linked parishes going to work together?

Hopeful that people will be understanding open to the change. Excited about the changes taking place.

How are we going to help Caritas?

Need petitions for online prayer requests.

How and when will all of this take place and how will it affect our parish here in Romford?

Concerned about people without internet understanding what’s going on. Will all documents be available and accessible to those without internet?

When is the parish club reopening? The community has not been the same since it closed.

The tradesmen in the parish should get together and help- they could do a lot of good. Two mass collections and more fund raising by parish groups would help earn some money for the churches.

Integration in our parish is very important. More social activity would assist this.



 December 2017:The First Formal Proposal for the Renewal and Restructuring of Our Diocese is available on the diocesan website

Please take time to read all of this document and to pray about it. We will be meeting together as a parish to discuss it early in the New Year.


The next important stage of the Stewards of the Gospel discernment process is upon us!

Important changes will be taking place now and over the next few years in our parish and diocese.

On Monday 7th August a document setting out in draft a vision and strategy to take our diocese forward will be published at

We will also be getting hard copies of the document to share and read so that we can pray about the contents and discuss them before responding to it.

We will hold an open parish meeting in September/ October time where the diocesan director for the Stewardship process, Steven Webb, will join us and respond to your questions. Watch this space and look out in the parish newsletter for the date of the meeting.


parish open day 

Currently we have around 35 different groups working within our parish and we would like to celebrate all the hard work they do and the part they play in making our community so rich and vibrant. To this end, we are holding a Parish Open Day on      Sunday 17th September. The event will take place in the parish hall, beginning after the 9.30 Mass, and continue through the day, finishing at 2pm. Come along on the day with family and friends. Refreshments will be served by our youth stewards.



A big thank you to everyone who supported the Bacon Buttie Sunday charity event last weekend 23rd April. This was organised and run entirely by our Youth Stewards who raised almost £200. This will go towards a new PA system for the youth band and also contribute to the parish building fund. Well done!


Youth Band 

St. Edward’s now has a youth band with a range of musicians who play guitar, saxophone, flute and clarinet. If you are aged 13-18 and you’d like to join the group please come along to the next practice on Saturday 18th February 5pm-6pm in the church- more details on the facebook page soon. All instrumentalists are welcome, but we need a pianist, another guitar and lots more singers!

Masses organised by the Youth

The Young Stewards have arranged for the first Community Mass organised by the Youth of the Parish to take place on Saturday 25th March at 6.30pm. Everyone is warmly welcome but especially all young people who are at secondary schools and their families. After mass, there will be a youth social in the community centre from 7.30-8.30pm with refreshments. We are hoping that the youth will continue to organise the community masses on the last Saturday of each month ( 29th April, 27th May, 24th June, 30th September, 28th October and 25th November) but they will be advertised in the newsletter in advance in case there are any changes.

Bacon Buttie Sunday 

This will be the first fundraising event run by the Young Stewards. They are raising funds for the refurbishment of our Community Centre, and they will be serving bacon sandwiches, teas and coffees after the 9.30 and 11.30 Sunday masses on 19th March. Come along and support them!

Parish Questionnaires

Thank you to everyone who completed these. You can still send yours in if you didn’t make the deadline- just put it in the box at the back of the church when you’ve finished. Answer as many or as few questions as you want to.

Stewards of the Gospel News           February 18th/19th 2017

Parish Stewards

One of the main findings from the parish one minute survey we did last October was that parishioners felt we needed to have more youth involvement and music. Stewards have been working towards this and other issues which you raised, and we’ll keep you informed of these during the coming months.

Our Parish Stewards are: Caroline Dixon, Joan Murphy, John Sizer, Emma Bond, Amanda Mckiernon, Jonathan Rickard, Jenny McAvoy, Richard Cordery and Nicola Roberts. We are always looking for more people, so please join us if you’d like to help!                                                

Youth Stewards

We now have a fantastic team of young people committed to working in the parish and beyond. They will be fundraising as well as organizing events and activities for the youth of the parish. They now have a facebook page where you can find details of the latest parish youth news: Romford Young Stewards. The youth stewards are: Naimh Marshall, Hannah Francis, Megan Roberts, Isabel Roberts, Aidan Marshall, Ethan Walsh, Gabrielle O’Donoghue and Alice Kelly.