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Parish Consultation

Background –

‘A Vision for the Future’ - In July 2014 it was decided to undertake a strategic planning exercise to determine the future of the Parish. To this end, the Priests, Finance Committee and Pastoral Council set about working collaboratively with Parishioners and commenced an Option Appraisal exercise.

To date the following documents have been compiled:

Blue Paper Update 22/02/2015   Blue Paper  - 'A Vision for the Future' 12/11/2014     Green Paper - 'Parish Properties' 12/04/2014

Blue Paper Update 22/02/2015  

BLUE PAPER 22.02.2015 - UPDATE


[1] The Priests, Pastoral Council and Finance Committee wish to express their sincere thanks and appreciation for the huge turnout of people who were able to attend and participate in the recent consultation meeting, and also to those who shared their views through subsequent correspondence and calls to the Parish Office. While the consultation meeting was widely welcomed, some people expressed disappointment that the Finance Committee and Pastoral Council did not present a plan of action for consideration at the meeting. We would like to emphasise that the purpose of the meeting was to listen to your views and opinions on the way forward for our Parish.

[2] In preparation for the meeting, the Finance Committee and Pastoral Council drafted a document [the blue paper] outlining a Vision for the Future of the Parish as described by the 3 Objectives. At the meeting it was proposed that an Option Appraisal exercise comprising 5 possible Options as outlined in the document would be carried out. We undertook to convene a further meeting with the Parish community in the springtime to present the outcome of our findings and recommend a plan of action for consideration.

[3] At the consultation meeting, the Parish community endorsed the process of undertaking an Option Appraisal exercise through the evaluation of the 5 Options as outlined in the blue paper, and this Appraisal process is now underway. The 5 Options will be assessed and evaluated in both monetary and non-monetary terms to reflect the liturgical, pastoral and community priorities of our Parish.

[4] There were other concerns of a more practical nature expressed by Parishioners at the meeting, including vandalism, anti-social behaviour and lack of lighting in the grounds of the Church of the Resurrection. Action has been taken to attempt to address these issues. As discussed at the meeting and outlined in the blue paper, the Pastoral Centre at 222 Limestone Road will shortly be placed on the market for sale.

[5] Independent of the Option Appraisal, a proposal to reduce the Parish debt was put forward by a Parishioner. As several other people also contacted the Parish Office expressing their support for this initiative, Parishioners are invited to consider participating in the ‘£5K Pledge’ appeal in an attempt to reduce the £1.6m Parish debt. Details will be available in the Church porches and the Parish Office. We would also like to take this opportunity to encourage people to Gift Aid their weekly contributions to maximise income by 25%, at no extra cost to Parishioners.

[6] As the consultation process will be on going throughout the Option Appraisal exercise, please don’t hesitate to continue to contact us at any time to express your opinion. A record of the consultation meeting, together with correspondence and communications received since then, will shortly be uploaded onto the Parish website and will also be available for consultation in the Parish Office or by email upon request. We thank you for your continuing generosity and support for the Parish.

As we embark on this Option Appraisal exercise we ask for God’s blessing on our endeavours, so that we may be guided in our task of discerning the best course of action to enable our Parish to develop as a ‘praying, caring, faith community, centred in Christ’.

Father Paul Strain Adm                   Finance Committee                      Pastoral Council

Blue Paper  - \'A Vision for the Future\' 12/11/2014    

BLUE PAPER 12.11.2014



Dear Parishioner of Holy Family

[1] As a Parish community we face challenges and changes, including the fact that in the future not every Parish will have a Priest, and we will be living within new Diocesan structures.  This will require us to collaborate more closely with adjoining Parishes and with an enhanced role for the Laity. There is clearly therefore, an urgent need to plan for the future.

[2] To progress this planning process, the Priests, Pastoral Council and Finance Committee have proposed 3 objectives that reflect a vision for the Parish, if we were really living the Gospel as Pope Francis challenges us to.

[3] The 3 Objectives to reflect our Parish vision are as follows:-

[a]  To provide appropriate Liturgical space to facilitate the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, and also enable children and young peoples’ participation in the Liturgy to enrich their spiritual journey within our Parish.


[b] To provide suitable Pastoral space and community facilities to enable the engagement of young people, families and elderly people, and thereby sustain and promote an active and participative Parish community.     


[c] To eliminate the Parish debt within 10 years through the rationalisation of Parish property and the subsequent income realised from this, together with the reduction in loan interest associated with such debt.  


[4] The Green Paper recently issued to Parishioners outlined the challenges that we face as a Parish Community – Liturgical, Pastoral, Community and Financial. [Available from the Parish Office or website –] This document reminded Parishioners that at present our Parish has a debt of some £1.67million. By evaluating current Parish properties in terms of their Liturgical, Pastoral and Community suitability, as well as condition and level of usage, this will allow us to come up with an overall plan to meet the Objectives as outlined above, maximise the use of property, and sell or seek alternative use for those buildings that are surplus to the agreed requirements.

 [5] To enable this vision to become a reality we propose to undertake a comprehensive Option Appraisal exercise including all properties within the Parish, so that we can see how best to meet our Liturgical, Pastoral, Community needs and Financial priorities.

[6] At the outset of this process, we wish to meet with Parishioners to outline how the Option Appraisal process will be carried out, and more importantly, to listen to your views on your vision for our Parish and how we can respond to the challenges and changes that we face. Your opinions will be listened to, respected and taken into account as we consider the options and recommend a preferred option at the conclusion of the Option Appraisal exercise.

[7] To ensure that the Option Appraisal exercise is as meaningful and robust as possible, it is essential that the widest possible range of options is included within the process. Suggested options therefore include doing only minimum and essential maintenance work to Parish buildings [Option 1], to the other extreme of considering an ideal situation of assuming that we could design a Parish infrastructure from scratch on an entirely new site [Option 5]. Our task is to identify and scrutinise, through the Option Appraisal process, those options within this wide range of possibilities which are appropriate for detailed consideration.

[8] An example of 5 options that may be considered are as follows:

  • Do nothing -This Option means that we will continue as things are now, with no major spending, and with only essential repairs and maintenance being undertaken to Parish buildings.
  • Sell the site of the Church of the Resurrection and Presbytery on the Cavehill Road, and rehabilitate St Therese Church and Presbytery - In this Option, the Parish Centre at the rear of the Church of the Resurrection would be retained with independent access from the Cavehill Road.
  • Sell the site of the Church of the Resurrection, Parish Centre and

Presbytery on the Cavehill Road, and rehabilitate St Therese Church and Presbytery.

  • Rehabilitate and re-open the Church of the Resurrection and sell the site of St Therese Church and Presbytery on the Somerton Road. 
  • Dispose of the 3 sites of Holy Family, St Therese and the Church of the Resurrection and purchase an alternative site to provide one Church, Presbytery and community facility within the Parish to meet our needs.

[9] The last Option describes how we might approach the issue in an ideal world where we had the choice of designing the Parish infrastructure all over again, and not having the configuration of 3 Churches, and a range of associated buildings in varying condition, and fulfilling different functions at 3 locations, as we have now. 

[10] Option 5 is the exact opposite of Option 1, and the purpose of including it in the Appraisal exercise is so that we can measure the costs, benefits and risks of the other realistic Options against such an ideal situation of buying a site and building one Church and associated community facilities on it to meet all our Parish needs. 

[11] It is emphasised that we are at a very early stage of considering these Options, and absolutely no decisions have been taken regarding the future of any Parish property, with the exception of the Pastoral Centre, 222 Limestone Road. This building is currently substantially under-used and the activities that take place there can be facilitated elsewhere within the Parish. Following consultation and agreement with the Pastoral Centre user groups, it has been decided, in advance of the overall Parish Plan, that this property will shortly be offered for sale on the open market. This sale will not in any way jeopardise or impact on the wider Option Appraisal of the Parish properties as mentioned above.

[12] The Pastoral Council and the Finance Committee realise that such an Appraisal exercise may seem to you to be a very radical approach, and something that you had not considered may happen in your Parish. We can assure you that this is an established decision making model applied in many situations when hard choices have to be made and where all the factors, both monetary and non-monetary need to be carefully assessed and considered. The Finance Committee and Pastoral Council are very aware of the huge responsibility that we carry in embarking upon this decision making process that will affect all our lives, and may cause a great deal of uncertainty and anguish within the Parish.   

[13] As a Parish, we have a responsibility to seek to plan an appropriate response to the challenges and changes that we face as a Parish community. We assure you that we will conduct the exercise with objectivity, openness and transparency, and act in a prudent and responsible manner as we seek to balance the Liturgical, Pastoral and Community needs and Financial priorities of our Parish.

[14] Your views on the 5 Options outlined above, and indeed on any other Objective or Option that you believe should be considered at this initial stage of the process are very important, and we want to give you the opportunity to tell us what you think, so that your opinions can be taken on board as part of the decision making process. To this end, you are invited to attend a meeting on

Wednesday 12 November 2014 at 7.30pm in the Parish Centre, 120 Cavehill Road.

[15] This meeting is a first step of a consultation process, and over the next few months when we have examined the Options and selected a proposed course of action, this will then be discussed with Parishioners before any action is taken. We look forward to hearing your vision for our Parish. If you are unable to come to this meeting, please contact the Parish Office E: or     T: 90743119 and we will be happy to make alternative arrangements to listen to your views on the way ahead. 

To quote from Archbishop Oscar Romero:  “…No programme accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything… It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s Grace to enter and do the rest… We humbly ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in Jesus’ name” Amen

Yours faithfully,

 Very Rev Paul Strain Adm        HF Pastoral Council        HF Finance Committee

Green Paper - \'Parish Properties\' 12/04/2014

GREEN PAPER – 12.04.2014


  1. Holy Family Parish is in debt. We currently owe £1.67 million. The parish is struggling to reduce this debt burden and to pay the interest that accumulates from it. Last year’s accounts show that parish income for the year ending December 2013 was reduced by some £70,000. Had it not been for some generous bequests made to the parish in that year, parish expenditure would have exceeded parish income.


  1. The tangible assets of Holy Family Parish include:-
  2. Holy Family Church
  3. Holy Family Presbytery and adjoining house
  • Pastoral Centre, 222 Limestone Road
  1. Gate Lodge at the junction of Newington Avenue / Church Gates
  2. The premises used by the Youth Club and also Newington Amateur Boxing Club [NABC}
  3. St Therese Church [considered to be in need of work**]
  • St Therese presbytery [unoccupied, largely weather-proofed but in need of extensive internal refurbishment]
  • 65 Somerton Road [used in partnership with Little Flower Girls’ School]
  1. The Church of the Resurrection
  2. Resurrection Presbytery [now unoccupied]
  3. The Parish Centre [120 Cavehill Road]


  1. Holy Family Finance Committee has recommended to Father Strain that parishioners should be consulted about the current and future use of these properties in order to meet the changing needs of the parish. It may be possible to sell or to use otherwise some of the properties in order to boost parish income and / or reduce parish debt.


  1. To that end, the Finance Committee has recommended to the Parish Administrator that he should seek professional advice about potential options for the use and development of all parish properties. Father Strain has committed himself to engaging with Parishioners in a consultation process in which the various professional opinions and advices will be shared.


** Storm – glazing of stained glass windows, improving heating system and remedial works to the roof.