Council of the Laity – Minutes 11th February 2017

Lay Associations


Minute of the second meeting of the Council of the Laity held in the Conference Room of the St Ninian’s Pastoral Institute, Lawside, Dundee, on Saturday 11 February 2017 at 11.00 am.

Present: Fr J High (Chair), Fr J McCruden (Vice-Chair),Sr M Aladi, M Caswell, A Herron, J Galligan, J Joyce, A Kenny, D Meiklejohn, F Murphy, L McIver, C McCrosson, P Porter, N Sloan, D Smith, A Toshney, Mr M Veal, R Wyle, D McDowall (Secretary)

In attendance: Bishop S Robson

[Secretary’s Note: The list of attendees and the Societies/Groups they represent is provided at the end of this minute]

Apologies were received from: J Dagen, P Kearns, M Mitchell, C Mulford, M Parke, S Smith and P Veal.

Welcome to New Members: Laura McIver, Francis Murphy and Adele Herron, representing the Liturgy Group, the Knights of St Columba and the Youth Commission respectively, were welcomed to their first meeting of Council

Father High opened the meeting with a prayer and an invocation to the Patron Saint of the Council, St Vincent Pallotti.

1. Minutes of the Meeting of 3 September 2016

The minutes of the meeting of 3 September 2016 were approved.

2. Matters Arising from the Minutes of 3 September 2016

2.1 Transport (Para 3.1 refers)

Members noted that guidelines for transport were available through NHS, that Disclosure Scotland checks were required for all drivers and agreed that where individual parishes wished to develop procedures, they should do so on a parish-specific rather than diocesan wide basis.

It was noted that both the Institute and Wellburn minibuses could be made available if there were an event to which attendees might require transport and that for insurance purposes only the named drivers for these vehicles could be asked to drive. Where members were aware of any upcoming events for which the minibuses might be required, they were asked to contact either Mr Meiklejohn or Mr Veal at the Institute well in advance of the event date.

2.2 Repository in St Ninian’s Pastoral Institute (Para 3.2 refers)

Members were interested to note that the outcome of the application for a grant to fund the substantial refurbishment of the repository would be known in March 2017 .

2.3 Accessibility of St Ninian’s Pastoral Institute to those without their own transport (Para 3.2 refers)

Members were disappointed to learn that the local bus company had no plans to enhance existing provision, but were reminded of the availability of the Institute and Wellburn minibuses as described in paragraph 2.1 above.

2.4 Use of diocesan website to publicise events/parish activities (Para 3.2 refers)

It was agreed that where the diocesan website was to be used to publicise events/activities throughout the diocese with a view to increasing attendance, those organising the event should send details to Mr Veal at the Institute and he would pass these to Mr Mitchell, who would ensure their posting on the website.

Some members were unconvinced that publicising events on the website was the best way of reaching the laity throughout the diocese. It was agreed that many of the older members of the laity were unused to the technology and did not regularly check website information. Specific information about activities elsewhere in the diocese sent to individual parish priests was dealt with in different ways by the different priests and not all congregations were up to speed on activities, often adversely affecting participation/attendance.

Other social media were discussed, such as Facebook and Twitter but it was noted that these would need to be carefully managed so that they acted purely as information sites, rather than “chatrooms”. It was acknowledged that these technologies too, would be unlikely to be used by those who were not IT-confident.

Following a full and frank debate, it was agreed that the best way to ensure the widest-possible dissemination of information, a named individual in each parish should assume the role of “communicator” and that these individuals, co-ordinated by Mr Andrew Mitchell, should ensure that all parish activities were included in a monthly listing to be posted on the diocesan website (by Mr Mitchell) and to be simultaneously displayed on each parish noticeboard. Mr Veal agreed to speak to Mr Mitchell so that a co-ordinated approach was adopted and it was noted that contact details for each parish “communicator” would need to be gathered and passed to Mr Mitchell.

3. Publicising Minutes of Council of Laity Meetings

It was agreed that minutes of Council meetings would be publicised on the diocesan website and circulated to the individual parish communicators as described in paragraph 2.4 above.

4. Welcoming Christian Syrian families into the diocese

It was noted that in view of the different stances taken by individual authorities with regard to the reception of Syrian families into a particular region of Scotland, it had not been considered appropriate for a diocesan-wide mandate to be issued. Members acknowledged that welcoming Christian Syrian refugee families into parishes required to be handled on an individual parish basis in tandem with the relevant local authority involvement.

5. Holy Days of Obligation

Bishop Stephen reported that a number of Holy Days were currently being considered to determine whether the “obligation” normally associated with these, would remain in force for the DATE in question, irrespective of the DAY on which the feast might fall. The Holy Days were: The Epiphany, Feast of St Joseph, Ascension Day, Corpus Christi, SS Peter and Paul, Our Lady of the Assumption, All Saints, The Immaculate Conception and Christmas Day. The matter was to be submitted to the Bishops’ Council for ratification and, subject to confirmation, changes would come into force the following calendar year.

6. Wellburn Update

Mr Veal reported that the Wellburn Project had been put out to tender before Christmas 2016 and that submissions had been received which had been considerably over-budget. The architects were currently working to drive costs down and a preferred builder had been identified with a view to work commencing in May 2017 and completion by January 2019. It was noted that the Wellburn project would be a stand-alone charity, totally separate from the diocese, in keeping with practice elsewhere and the banks had already conducted robust checks to ensure that the financial demands of the associated loans for the project could be met. Some members pointed out that little was known about Wellburn outside Dundee and many in the diocese regarded it as a “Dundee project” aimed at the people of Dundee rather than the wider diocese of Dunkeld. It was noted that steps were being taken to dispel this misconception with an upcoming edition of the Dunkeld News to be devoted entirely to Wellburn and an article being prepared for the Scottish Catholic Observer. A professional fundraiser had been appointed and a vision document was currently being drafted. The project would include a number of different venues and resources, such as a shop, cafe, learning room, sensory room and walled garden and a range of activities would be undertaken throughout. While a number of these activities/venue would be income-generating, the involvement of volunteers – some of whom had already offered their services – would be encouraged. Members were confident that with appropriate publicity as described, enough interest would be generated to both raise funds and to motivate volunteers to become involved. Existing volunteers/workers within Wellburn were keen to be participate and would, it was suggested, respond very positively to requests for involvement.

7. Identification of Key Issues the Council might wish to Explore

It was suggested that Council might usefully consider Synod or Vatican II documents, giving members an opportunity to reflect on the issues raised therein and to discuss these at upcoming meetings. After discussion, it was agreed that all members would read the Synod document on the Laity: “Christifideles laeci” prior to the next meeting the agenda for which would include this as an item for discussion.

8. Diocesan Pastoral Council/Parish Pastoral Councils

Members discussed how the various councils: The Diocesan Pastoral Council, Parish Pastoral Councils, The Priests’ Council, The Council of Laity might complement each others’ work and/or work together for the good of the diocese in general. Bishop Stephen indicated that parish pastoral councils had purposely not been mandated in order to encourage parishes to establish a council which best suited the needs of the individual parish. The Diocesan Pastoral Council had yet to be formally established and guidelines for this would be considered at the next Priests’ Council meeting. During the general discussion it was agreed that co-operation was paramount between parish priests and lay members in all the different councils’ initiatives.

9. Youth Involvement

Members discussed the importance of the role of young people in ensuring the continuation of the faith and were encouraged to hear about the establishment of the Youth Commission which had been set up following World Youth Day in 2016. The Youth Commission representative talked about how inspirational World Youth Day had been and described how much many of the attendees (age range 14 – 35) had enjoyed the catechesis aspect which would feature prominently in the Lenten retreat which was being organised. The leadership roles which might be assumed by adults with the necessary skill sets were discussed as was the need to recognise the explicit co-operation required between youth and adult to exploit fully the latter’s experience for the benefit of the former. It was agreed that those with a particular interest in youth activities/involvement (Adele Herron, Laura McIver, Frankie McGuire, Cecilia Mulford) should form a small group, co-opting others as appropriate, to work together in this regard.

Following on from the discussion on catechesis, members were interested to hear that a catechist had been appointed for the diocese, primarily for education. The appointee was actively involved in the drafting of an extremely flexible, deliverable national RE programme in Scotland and she would be invited to liaise with the group mentioned above.

10. Any Other Business

10.1 Retreats for Lay Societies/Groups

Members were encouraged to consider planning a yearly retreat using the extensive facilities available in the Pastoral Institute. The importance of growing in faith was emphasised and a retreat would provide the ideal opportunity for reflection and development. The practical issues of planning a retreat, attracting sufficient participants, costs, accommodation etc were also discussed and it was suggested that one or more groups could work together to ensure workable numbers. It was noted that accommodation for up to 30 people was available in the Institute and that costs, both of accommodation and facilities, could be individually tailored. The use of the Institute for other activities was also discussed and members were interested to hear about the courses, prayer groups, conferences and art exhibitions being hosted there.

10.2 Forty Days for Life

A leaflet describing the “40 Days for Life” campaign was circulated. The campaign, running from 1st March to 9th April, had originated in USA. Some Scottish media had run articles describing the campaign as a “political stunt”, but in Dundee, the focus would be to witness the absolute value of human life from its very beginning by holding a prayer/vigil on the approach road to Ninewells Hospital. Those who could not travel to Dundee to participate in person, were encouraged to pray at home.

11. Date of Next Meeting

The dates of the 2 meetings to be held in 2017 were agreed as: Saturday 27 May and Saturday 16 September, both in the St Ninian’s Pastoral Institute.


Fr J High (Chair), Ms L McIver (Liturgy), Fr J McCruden (Vice-Chair), Mr C McCrosson (JPPM), Sr M Aladi, Ms P Porter, (UCM), Ms M Caswell (Legion of Mary), Ms N Sloan (SERRA), Ms A Herron (Youth Commission), Mr D Smith (SSVP), Mr J Galligan (Friends of St Jean Jugan), Ms A Toshney (Dundee Secular Carmelites), Mr J Joyce (SSVP), Mr M Veal (Diocesan Administration), Ms A Kenny (Friends of Wellburn), Mr R Wyle (CGA), Mr D Meiklejohn (St Ninian’s Pastoral Institute),
Mr F Murphy (Knights of St Columba), Ms D McDowall (Secretary) and Bishop Stephen Robson