I would like to thank all those who have engaged in the feedback process. All of the feedback has been read and has been very helpful. I am considering the issues raised by the feedback carefully. I’m praying about it and have already had a number of robust discussions with priests, consultors and diocesan staff around the issues raised.
I received submissions from:
– 736 individuals via the website or hardcopy feedback forms
– 14 Parish Pastoral Councils
– 5 Parish Finance Committees
– 4 Primary School Boards of Trustees
– 37 other groups representing 1820 people including 7 ethnic communities and 8 groups of young people
– 65 emails or letters were received
– Over 1000 people attended the seven area meetings
– Many of you have taken the time to meet together to pray about and grapple with my proposal.
– I spoke at the Catholic Business Network Lunch and at a number of other functions where people had the opportunity to speak with me and ask questions.
As you can see there was a significant volume of feedback received and some work is ongoing in terms of coding and developing summaries of the data. At this time I am able to share with you summaries of the feedback from Individuals, Parish Pastoral Councils, Parish Finance Committees and Primary School Boards of Trustees. Work continues on group submissions, emails and letters and will be updated as it becomes available. Please note too that we are also still working of the “final comments” question from the feedback form. This ran to dozens of pages, and while it has been read, final summary statements and graphs etc are still in progress and will be updated soon.
Bishop Paul Martin S.M.
Catholic Diocese of Christchurch
Below is the link to the independent report on the Individual Feedback, I would encourage you all to read it. For those who would prefer to read a more condensed summary we provide the following:
There was a mixture of responses, more support for the vision than against. Some of the positive comments included:
• “This will be an amazing uplift for the Catholic community in Christchurch”.
• “I’m excited by the thought of better-resourced vibrant parishes, active internally and providing outreach”.
• “For me, that awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit in this process and in our lives together is being the greatest gift to me”.
• “It is progressive and brave. And necessary for the future of the Church in Christchurch”
There were a number of legitimate concerns articulated and below is a summary of these concerns:
There were submissions from across the city that highlighted concern for the loss of existing parish communities. Respondents often referred to small groups/ings being helpful for building community and getting to know people, and a number of people mentioned that “bigger is not necessarily better”. Respondents asked questions about how communities were going to be brought together and what would happen to existing groups.
Many respondents were concerned for the elderly and their ability to travel greater distances to get to Mass under the proposed plan. People commented on those who currently walk to Mass and those elderly who may only feel comfortable driving in their local area.
Historical issues with parking and traffic congestion were highlighted at both the Papanui and Hoon Hay sites.
People were concerned and asked questions about what parking would be available at the proposed main Church sites.
Respondents were also concerned about potential extra emissions with more people driving further to Mass.
It was noted that Bus services operate on a restricted timetable on a Sunday.
School Parish Links
A significant number of people asked questions about how Parish-School links would be maintained if there was no longer a parish Church on site. Respondents were concerned that not having the Parish Church on site would be detrimental to the Parish School. Others expressed concerns about how land in front of schools may be used if it is sold.
Questions were raised about why a Church would be demolished and then a chapel built, some were concerned that this would have a detrimental environmental impact.
People were concerned that the proposed chapels might be too small.
Proposed Geographic Groupings
In the proposed North Parish, there was concern that merging Papanui, Mairehau and Burnside parishes would result in a parish that was very large and that this could cause difficulty with things such as sacramental programmes, feast day Masses, parking and school parish links. Some people felt Mairehau would be better merged with the Pro-Cathedral & Te Rangimarie as many Mairehau parishioners come from Dallington/Burwood area. Comment was also made that Bryndwr and Burnside had an historical link and people would like to see this continue.
In the proposed South Parish there was concern around the choice of site. There was concern about site size, parking and traffic congestion should the parish be based at Hoon Hay. Addington was proposed by a number of respondents as an alternate main site.
Regarding the potential grouping in the East, people felt that the distance ‘across the ponds’ from Aranui/New Brighton to Woolston was too far and that this was an awkward grouping. There was concern raised that the strong Samoan community and youth group in Aranui could be lost, and that there wouldn’t be resources in that area for these groups to meet.
In the proposed West Parish concerns centred around the number of Mass centres and the proposed main site. People noted that if a tertiary Mass were to continue at Riccarton, the parish would be having Mass at 3 sites. Respondents were concerned that Our Lady of Victories Church would be difficult to extend in a practical and attractive way.
Concerns in the proposed Cathedral Parish were few, though some noted the proximity to the river, of the potential Oxford Tce site, as a concern in regard to earthquake safety and others were concerned that there would be sufficient parking.
There was some concern that there was not enough information around finances and respondents expressed a desire to see financial information to better inform their response.
There was concern that demolishing Churches and building chapels was not sound financial management.
Respondents were concerned that there was going to be significant financial burden in building new presbyteries, parish centres and Churches in some places and that there was not enough buy in from people to raise the funds needed.
Some people were concerned that there was a “top down approach”, and that parishioners didn’t have enough say in the decision making process.
Some respondents felt there was lack of transparency and honesty, with not enough information being provided.
Feedback was received from 14 Parish Pastoral Councils from throughout the Diocese. Below is a summary of key themes from their feedback.
PPC’s were asked about the potential pastoral impacts of the proposed plan on their parishes. The issue most consistently cited was potential loss of care for individuals, a loss of the “personal touch”. In addition loss of identity, difficulties with travel, difficulties with many large schools in one parish, and impacts on senior members of the congregation including those in rest homes and those who don’t drive, were all cited by more than one parish.
PPC’s were asked about the potential pastoral benefits of the proposed plan for their parishes. PPC’s most commonly highlighted that there would be more people to share ministry roles, an ability for the priest’s workload to be shared, a greater pool of talent, and a better consolidation of resources. PPC’s also cited, better opportunities for young people, the possibility of more paid pastoral positions and a general sense of momentum.
PPC’s were further questioned about any concerns they had with amalgamating parishes. The most commonly cited concern was the need for good processes to be put in place for amalgamating parishes. This included clear and transparent processes around finances, land and other assets, as well as pastoral strategies for supporting existing communities and providing pastoral care. There was concern that amalgamations could lead to a loss of community or identity and questions were raised about how this could be avoided.
Other concerns raised by PPC’s included, parish/school connections, parking, potential losses in planned giving, needs of particular cultural groups and a desire for good communication.
Feedback was received from 5 Parish Finance Committees from Christchurch City. Below is a summary of key themes from their feedback.
PFC’s were asked about the potential pastoral impacts of the proposed plan on their parishes. The 3 issues cited by more than one PFC were, loss of connection, travel difficulties (including parking) and parish collection totals dropping due to disengagement. Other issues mentioned were, the cost of refurbishment/building, concern about what will happen to existing assets and that a focus on building may take resources away from pastoral efforts.
PFC’s were asked about the potential pastoral benefits of the proposed plan for their parishes. PFC’s most commonly mentioned the benefit of consolidation of resources, the ability to invest in employment and training of staff and the drop in maintenance and heating costs.
PFC’s were further questioned about any concerns they had with amalgamating parishes. The most common concern was that a good ‘system’ needed to be in place before the amalgamations happened. Further to this there were concerns about the logistics of combining finances, potential reduction in planned giving due to disengagement and the difficulty in anticipating what financial resources would be available to employ staff. Concerns about Parish/School connections were also mentioned.
Feedback was received from 4 Primary School Boards of Trustees from Christchurch City. Below is a summary of key themes from their feedback.
BOT’s provided feedback on the potential impacts the proposed plan would have on their school communities. All four BOT’s who responded indicated potential impacts on the school dependent on what happens to the parish land and buildings that are currently positioned in front of their 4 schools. Some indicated that parish halls are used by the school for activities such as sport and assemblies and therefore these schools would like to see the possibility of land and buildings being incorporated into school. In addition schools commented on a number of other concerns including too many large schools together in the North parish, potential issues with numbers and running sacramental programmes, availability of Priests to be present in the school and what will happen with school Masses and liturgies, including on Holy Days of Obligation.
BOT’s provided feedback on the potential benefits the proposed plan would have on their school communities. The only significant benefit highlighted by schools was that parish land could become school land and therefore increase the resources available to schools, especially halls, added parking and drop off zones.