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The Catholic Community of North Harbour, NSW

St Kieran’s Church, Manly Vale and

St Cecilia’s Church, Balgowlah

14 June 2008

Click to download PDF version of 'Concepts for Renewing Our Places of Worship'

Participants

During the season of Easter 2009, The Catholic Community of North Harbour was invited to offer its guidance in setting forth the aspirations for the parish and its facilities. The following parishioners registered and participated in at least one of the meetings held on 16, 17 & 30 May and 14 June. The concepts that emerged were adopted, by those present at the final meeting, as their consensus opinion.

Advisory Group:

  • Steve Andrew
  • Philomena Baker
  • Elizabeth-Anne Banfield
  • Tony Bonanno
  • Adriana Bowyer
  • Pauline Burns
  • George Carroll
  • Marie Chant
  • Norman Chant
  • Kaye Coates
  • Brian Cunningham
  • Paul Daly
  • Rhonda Daly
  • Patricia Darcy
  • Janette Davidson (Diocese of Broken Bay)
  • Jack Delagiacoma
  • Rose Delagiacoma
  • Hilde Driessen
  • Alicia Duffy
  • Moira Geraghty
  • Peter Gibbons
  • Mark Gronow
  • Clare Hadley
  • Kevin Hadley
  • Ursula Halloway
  • Brian Hamer
  • Gai Hamer
  • Ricki Hayes
  • Terry Hayes
  • Vincent Jewell
  • Pat Keogh
  • John Killick
  • Raymond Laurendet
  • Eileen Luthi
  • Sr Josie Mabini, OSA (Pastoral Associate)
  • Colleen Maher
  • Denise Mason
  • John McCarney
  • Rosemary McEwan
  • Michael McMahon
  • Carol Murphy
  • John Murphy
  • John O’Grady
  • Ilde Parisi
  • Paul Pearson
  • Bill Riddington
  • Carmel Riddington
  • Terri Sedmak
  • Kevin Smith
  • Myra Smith
  • Julie Watson
  • Jim Weston
  • Marian Weston
  • Fr Peter Wieneke, OSA (Parish Priest)
  • Jacky Worthington
  • Titus Yeung
  • John Zeigler

Facilitators:

  • Fr David Orr, OSB
  • Sr Margaret Smith, SGS
  • Randall Lindstrom
  • Jason Williams

Introduction

In September, 2005, our twinned parishes of St Cecilia’s, Balgowlah, and St Kieran’s, Manly Vale, gathered to discern a joint ‘Mission Statement’, which provided a mandate for our leadership, and has continued to serve during our subsequent amalgamation as The Catholic Community of North Harbour. In that ‘Mission Statement’, the parish addressed many aspirations and areas of intended service. The first aspirations concerned worship, and included the following advice:

“Our liturgical environments need to be examined for renewal opportunities that might increase participation and strengthen our ability to conduct the rites of the Church with dignity and grace.”

That advice became the impetus for another discernment process, dedicated to liturgical renewal and associated issues. The results are contained in this document.

All parishioners were invited to participate in the process. Although we would have benefited from a larger youth contingent, we see, amongst the nearly 60 people who responded, a healthy cross-section of parish concerns and attitudes.

We gathered on three occasions, for more than sixteen hours of prayer, formation and discussion, to discern what the Spirit is saying about the prayer life of our church. We received professional presentations on “The Christian Symbol System”, “The Call of Vatican Council II”, and “The Implications and Opportunities of Liturgical Design”. Then, we listened to one another, shared our views and gathered our collective wisdom. In all aspects of our deliberations, we focused on a central question: Could the prayer life of this community be strengthened by the renewal of our liturgical environments? To answer that question, we identified the values, treasures and needs that most significantly affect our prayer life. Then, we envisaged the future of our liturgical and devotional environments. We approached this subject as a journey of discovery, not with any foregone conclusion that change must occur, only with a willingness to explore the possibilities.

The amalgamation of our two parishes into one presents the opportunity of having two church buildings and, therefore, two environments to address. Our discussions led to the following understandings:

  • Current and emerging practices have seen St Kieran’s develop as the major liturgical centre for the parish, due to its larger size and proximity to the parish centre. That practice will continue.
  • Our bishop and parish leadership support the concept that wherever a church is adjacent to a school, the church should remain a place of liturgy. Consequently, St Cecilia’s will continue to host liturgies, as it now does.
  • When the current building program at St Cecilia’s Primary School is complete, the school will have less need for the church space.
  • There may be additional uses for St Cecilia’s Church, which are compatible with continued liturgical service, but also give the building a renewed sense of purpose and life.

This document endorses and reiterates the latter point, but we suggest that further exploration is needed to identify possible additional uses for St Cecilia’s. We would encourage our parish leadership to undertake that task.

In the meantime, the following concept statements are offered prayerfully and thoughtfully, as a vision for renewal of our church – its buildings and its people – and as a vehicle for further discernment concerning design and implementation.

1

By fostering connections between our schools and parish, and by nurturing families and future generations, we seek to keep our community alive. In our offering of welcome, hospitality and open communication, we hope to share the neighbourly love and experience of Christian conversion, which we enjoy, with all who might become part of our community of faith. By actively reaching out, we expect to offer that same love to those in the wider community, who find themselves in need of a generous heart and mind.

Many of our parish treasures reflect the emphasis that we place on community. We remember, with fondness, Fr Abel’s family dinners, which provided an opportunity to welcome new families and strengthen relationships amongst regular parishioners. The ‘family wall hangings’, at St Kieran’s, serve as a symbol of the important contributions that families make to this parish, as well as the support they can expect from it. In a parish keen to build community, the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) is more than a religious ritual; it is a demonstrative mark of our growth and future. Similarly, World Youth Day 2008 was more than an ‘event’, for us. It affirmed our parish ethos and provided another glimpse into our future. Not only were we able to extend the parish’s welcome and hospitality to international pilgrims, we were able to see in our youth, and their embrace of faith, the promise of the Church in its next generation. And, as an inter-generational collaboration, we saw the strength that derives from the faithful contributions of all age groups.

Vital connections between parish and school – seen as essential to community – are enhanced by the physical proximity enjoyed by our church and school buildings, at both locations. But, equally important in maintaining such connections are the gifts and commitment of parish and school staff. Healthy connections are also the result of the openness that we endeavour to maintain throughout the parish.

Some of us see the visibility into St Kieran’s church building as symbolic of that openness. More tangible is the open ‘conversation’ that we try to encourage through our parish newsletter and other communications.

In our striving to build effective community, we see no greater need than to constantly and diligently seek ways to further extend our welcome to all, but especially to families and young people. Although the responsibility to be a welcoming community is primarily ours, we know that our buildings are one of the ways to assist us in that endeavour.

Liturgy – and hospitality – begin as the faithful gather. Both of our church buildings need to provide better gathering spaces, where many of the rites commence. Gathering spaces need to be appropriately sized, well-defined, and offer easily-accessed facilities for hospitality and public convenience. As a primary sign of welcome, both churches need to be made fully accessible, to those of all physical abilities, not only for entry, but also for full liturgical participation. In the gathering spaces, as well as the worship spaces, facilities need to be accommodating for those using prams, wheelchairs, walking frames, etc., such that there is proper space for both manoeuvring and temporary storage. Similarly, other provisions, which would assist parents with infants and toddlers to participate fully in liturgy, need to be considered and implemented.

In a parish blessed with two church buildings, we feel a particular need to take maximum advantage of the benefits offered by both. There may be the potential to accommodate a wider variety of activities at each facility, particularly at St Cecilia’s. Although St Kieran’s has become our major worship centre, we understand that St Cecilia’s will continue to be a place of liturgy. However, to maximise the building’s use and honour its integrity, there may be opportunities for St Cecilia’s to provide an appropriate venue for additional, creative uses. Such possibilities might offer the building a renewed sense of purpose and contribute new life to the parish community, as well as the wider community. We believe this to be a concept worthy of further investigation.

To effectively accommodate liturgy, as well as other uses, the quality, flexibility and sustainability of lighting, audio-visual and environmental systems need to be assessed and improved. At St Cecilia’s, especially if other uses are found, there may be the need to investigate the potential for improvement of car parking and circulation.

Beyond buildings and facilities, we need to remain vigilant in our efforts to maintain and increase the dissemination of parish information. Remaining alert and mindful to the value of communications between the schools and the parish, as well as between the parish and the newly baptised and their families, will increase our ability to build a strong and vital community of faith.

2

In addition to the regularity of weekly mass, our experience of church is punctuated by memories of major feasts and ceremonies, and of the important milestones marked by the sacraments. We are confident in expressing the joy and enthusiasm of our faith – especially through music – because we understand that “to sing once is to pray twice” (St Augustine). In contrast, we appreciate elements of silence, reverence and decorum during liturgy. We also appreciate variety in liturgy, and understand the richness that it can offer to our prayer. As we strive to honour the teachings of Vatican Council II, and the renewed rites that have flowed from it, we are fortunate to have dedicated worship spaces, which include the opportunity to ‘gather around’ our holy table, connected with God, and with each other.

Our treasures include many features of the parish’s liturgical and devotional environments. Most in the parish would name the stained glass windows at both churches, and give special mention to the ‘resurrection window’ at St Kieran’s. But, numerous other liturgical and devotional elements are also viewed as treasures. At St Kieran’s, we name the sanctuary, and particularly its inlay of red carpet, which defines the place of the altar. In addition, we name the Holy Spirit mosaic, the original baptismal font, and the crucifix. Amongst devotional features, the chapel to Our Lady of Good Counsel, and the Blessed Sacrament area are seen as treasures. To some the organ and abundant natural light are important assets of the St Kieran’s environment.

At St Cecilia’s, we find treasures in the original baptistery space, the stations of the cross and the brass candle sticks. Some also name the crucifix, and the centrality of the new font, amidst the assembly.

As a result of our commitment to quality liturgy, we see many needs, which if effectively satisfied, might enhance our ability to worship and pray. Given our appreciation of music in liturgy, we believe that both churches need larger and more appropriately arranged space for the music ministry, as well as nearby dedicated music storage. At St Kieran’s, some also see the need for a new organ.

Music has proven an effective means by which people can become actively involved in liturgy, but we need to ensure that all aspects of our worship environments encourage participation, especially by children and young people, and foster increased lay leadership. We further need to ensure that our environments are equipped with the spaces and symbols needed to conduct the rites of the Church with dignity and grace.

Therefore, to mark our entry into Christianity, both churches need appropriately located and designed places of baptism, including provisions for infant immersion. In at least one location, the parish needs provisions for adult immersion, during the Easter vigil. Similarly, we need to ensure that both churches – each in their own way and appropriate to their liturgical demands – provide the necessary complement of liturgical ‘places’, including the space necessary for liturgical action, as anticipated by the rites. Such places comprise those for the holy oils, the paschal candle, the processional cross, the proclamation of the Word, the presiding priest and the celebration of the Eucharist. Worthy and harmonious furnishings and symbols, whether existing or new, need to mark these places.

In addition, we need adequate ‘places of honour’ that allow sufficient space for funerals, weddings, confirmation, and other ceremonies in which we honour members of the community. To celebrate the rite of reconciliation, we need appropriate reconciliation chapels, accommodating the rite in both anonymous and face-to-face forms. In accordance with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, we need better integrated and appropriately focused Blessed Sacrament chapels, suitable for private prayer.

Our liturgical environments need to be sufficiently adaptable to accommodate liturgies of various types and attendance. Consequently, we see the potential for at least some degree of flexible seating. Whether accommodating large or small liturgies, we would like to see our environments create the greatest degree of intimacy possible – including improved sight lines – such that all can feel included and involved.

To better support our devotional lives, some see the need for better shrines to Our Lady of Good Counsel at both churches, the introduction of traditional iconography and a new resurrection cross at St Cecilia’s, and a new Marian image at St Kieran’s.

3

The histories of our two original parishes, first twinned and now amalgamated, are diverse and unique. One of the original parishes is older, one younger. One of our church buildings is more traditional, one more contemporary. We believe strength is found in the blending of past and present. As we look back, we are grateful for the nurture and formation provided by our parents and the religious women and men who influenced our lives. They taught us the values of love and learning, by demonstrating that “nothing conquers except truth, and the victory of truth is love” (St Augustine). As we look to the present, we appreciate the leadership that guided us through amalgamation and now inspires a new era of parish life. As we look forward, we have faith that ‘truth’ – both ancient and new – will lead every generation to God’s beauty.

In our pursuit of ‘love and learning’, we treasure all of those who help us along the way. We think, first, of our ordained and lay ministers and our pastoral associate. We also think of the catechists, the flower ladies, and a host of unsung heroes who quietly contribute their gifts to the sustenance of our parish. For some of us, the foundation stones at our churches – especially at St Kieran’s – are not only markers of our history, but also symbols of our sustained commitment to Christian service in the North Harbour region, now and into the future.

Our ability to continue providing such service requires that we remember our heritage, build on the vitality and generosity of our community, strengthen our prayer life, and maintain our desire to learn and grow. Consequently, in addition to the needs previously outlined, we see a need to acknowledge – in an authentic manner – the traditional Aboriginal custodians of our sites. Similarly, we might explore possibilities for remembering and marking the Hebrew origins of our Christian faith. We also need to maintain and enhance parish programs, including a variety of social and formational offerings. When offered, we need to encourage greater participation in them. To reinforce our interest in heritage and continued learning, we need to maintain and enhance our parish archive and library including improved access. Coupled with the needs of community and liturgy, these concepts could help equip our parish for another generation of prayer and service.

Appendix

The foregoing concept statements are the result of a process of group discernment involving several steps of progressive participation.

A record of the participants’ intermediate work and emerging thoughts is included on the following pages.

Values

This list represent all of the responses of the participants when asked the question: Consider those abstract things that form the spirituality of this community ... things such as your beliefs, your ideas, your experiences and your memories. Amongst those thoughts will be your VALUES ... the values held by this community, which define it and make it special. What then are your values? The dots to the left indicate the number of participants that saw each item as amongst their most important values.

 

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COMMUNITY

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AUGUSTINIAN CHARISM

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MUSIC

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PARTICIPATION

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WORSHIP

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CONNECTION BETWEEN SCHOOL & CHURCH

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FAMILY

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HOSPITALITY

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FUTURE GENERATIONS

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MAJOR FEASTS & CEREMONIES

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WELCOME

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DECORUM DURING LITURGY

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SACRAMENTS

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KEEPING COMMUNITY ALIVE

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COMMUNICATION

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SILENCE / REVERENCE

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DEDICATED WORSHIP SPACE

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GATHERING AROUND FORMAT OF WORSHIP

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VARIETY OF LITURGIES

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BALANCE OF TRADITION & MODERNITY

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GOD’S CONSTANCY

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CONVERSION

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PRACTICE AS ONE COMMUNITY

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LEADERSHIP

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INFLUENCE OF NUNS, BROTHERS, PRIESTS & PARENTS IN OUR UPBRINGING

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FIRSTS:
RECONCILLIATION
COMMUNION
ETC

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CONNECTION WITH GOD

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MEMORY OF BAPTISM

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HISTORY OF ST KIERAN’S

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ONE PARISH

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VATICAN II

HISTORY OF ST CECILIA’S

Treasures

This list represents all of the responses of the participants when asked the question: Consider your site, your buildings, your furnishings, your art and your people. Which, among them, have become so important to the prayer life of this community that they are now seen as TREASURES? The dots to the left indicate the number of participants that saw each item as their most treasured.

 

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ST KIERAN’S & ST CECILIA’S STAINED GLASS WINDOWS

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RESURRECTION WINDOW AT ST KIERAN’S

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ORDAINED AND LAY MINISTERS

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UNSUNG HEROES

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FATHER ABEL’S FAMILY DINNER

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SISTER JOSIE (PASTEROL ASSOCIATE)

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ST KEIRAN’S FAMILY WALL HANGINGS

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ST KIERAN’S SANCTUARY ESPECIALLY CARPET

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RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS

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PROXIMITY OF SCHOOLS TO ST KIERAN’S & ST CECILIA’S

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CATECHISTS

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HOLY SPIRIT MOSAIC AT ST KIERAN’S

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VISIBILITY INTO CHURCH AT ST KIERAN’S

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FLOWER LADIES

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ST KIERAN’S OLD BAPTISMAL FONT

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ST KIERAN’S CHAPEL TO OUR LADY OF GOOD COUNSEL

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ST KIERAN’S CRUCIFIX

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ST CECILIA’S FORMER BAPTISTRY

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CONTINUITY OF SERVICE

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ST KIERAN’S BLESSED SACRAMENT AREA

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PARISH NEWSLETTER

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ST CECILIA’S STATIONS OF THE CROSS

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ST KIERAN’S FOUNDATION STONE

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VARIOUS AGE GROUPS

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STAFF AT CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS

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ST KIERAN’S ALTAR

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BRASS CANDLE STICKS AT ST CECILIA’S

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WORLD YOUTH DAY

GOOD VENTILATION AT ST KIERAN’S

GOOD LIGHT AT ST KIERAN’S

ST CECILIA’S CURRENT LOCATION OF FONT

ST KIERAN’S ORGAN

 

ST CECILIA’S CRUCIFIX

Needs

This list represents all of the responses of the participants when asked the question: Given what you say you value and what you hold as treasures, what NEEDS do you have, which if addressed, might strengthen this faith community? The dots to the left indicate the number of participants that saw each item as amongst the most important needs.

 

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BETTER MUSIC SPACE AND MUSIC STORAGE AT BOTH CHURCHES

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ENCOURAGE WELCOME FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

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BIGGER GATHERING SPACE AT ST CECILIA’S

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PERMANENT BAPTISMAL FONT WITH PROVISION FOR INFANT/ADULT IMMERSION AT BOTH CHURCHES

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MORE CENTRAL PROVISIONS FOR PARENTS WITH INFANTS AND TODDLERS AT BOTH CHURCHES

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MORE FLEXIBLE SEATING AT BOTH CHURCHES

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DEFINED GATHERING SPACE AND CONTROLLED EXIT/ENTRY AT ST KIERAN’S

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ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION BY CHILDREN

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HOSPITALITY FACILITIES AT BOTH CHURCHES

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ACCESS FOR ALL

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BETTER PROGRAMS, SOCIAL GROUPS, MARRIAGE GUIDANCE, AGED, MUSIC, DANCE

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MORE EFFECTIVE WELCOMING

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ABILITY TO CATER FOR SMALL AND LARGE LITURGIES (INCLUDING TRAGEDIES)

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MORE FOCUSED TABERNACLE LOCATION AT BOTH CHURCHES

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BETTER SENSE OF DRESS AMONGST LAY MINISTERS

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PLACES FOR PRAMS, WHEELCHAIRS, ETC

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BETTER DISSEMINATION OF PARISH INFORMATION

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LARGER PLACE OF HONOUR AT ST CECILIA’S

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RECONCILIATION CHAPEL AT BOTH CHURCHES

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INCREASED COMMUNICATION BETWEEN SCHOOLS & PARISH

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MAXIMISE BENEFITS OF BOTH CHURCHES

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BETTER TOILET FACILITIES AT ST CECILIA’S

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MORE LAY LEADERSHIP OF LITURGY

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF TRADITIONAL LAND OWNERS AT BOTH CHURCHES

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NOTIFICATION OF SCHOOL MASSES

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ADDRESS TRAFFIC NOISE AT ST KEIRAN’S

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MORE CENTRAL BAPTISMAL FONT LOCATION AT ST KIERAN’S

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ACCOMMODATE A WIDER VARIETY OF ACTIVITIES AT ST CECILIA’S

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GREATER INTIMACY DURING LITURGY AT BOTH CHURCHES

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PHYSICALLY HANDOUT NEWSLETTER

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MORE REGULAR INVITATIONS TO THE NEWLY BAPTISED AND THIER FAMILIES

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BETTER QUALITY AND FLEXIBILITY OF LIGHTING

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TRADITIONAL ICONOGRAPHY AT ST CECILIA’S

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REMINDERS OF HEBREW HERITAGE AT BOTH CHURCHES

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ADDRESS PARKING AT ST CECILIA’S

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BETTER PASSIVE ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS

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ACCOMMODATE A WIDER VARIETY OF ACTIVITIES AT ST KIERAN’S

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BETTER SIGHT LINES AT BOTH CHURCHES

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MORE/AMPLE ROOM IN SANCTUARY

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GREATER PARTICIPATION IN BIBLE STUDY GROUP

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NEW ORGAN AT ST KIERAN’S

BETTER AUDIO VISUAL EQUIPMENT AT ST KEIRAN’S

BETTER SHRINE FOR MOTHER OF GOOD COUNSEL AT BOTH CHURCHES

BELL TOWER AT BOTH CHURCHES

NEW RESURRECTION CROSS AT ST CECILIA’S

 

NEW MARIAN IMAGE AT ST KIERAN’S

 

MORE CONTEMPORARY REREDOS

 

PARISH LIBRARY

Relationships

This diagram establishes the RELATIONSHIPS between the Values, Treasures and Needs identified by the participants.

relationships