Well, how are you? How have you been surviving the Lockdown this time round? How are you managing emotionally, financially and spiritually? We are living with so much unknown and uncertainty these last few months. Wednesday will see the Church re-open again for you all to attend mass. It has been very strange not having you present in the church with us for mass. But the Live Streaming has helped make you feel closer. The Monastic Community continues to keep you all in our prayers. I hope and pray that, together with your families, you are all well and safe. You remain in our prayers. If you know of anyone who needs more support, please get in contact with the Parish Office, so we can try and help!
You can do this by telephone: our new number is 020 8194 2301; email firstname.lastname@example.org; Parish website: www.ealingabbeyparish.uk . And through the Parish Facebook page “St Benedict’s Catholic Parish Ealing”.
Following on from last year’s Financial Briefing in October, I wanted to let you know again this November what has been happening financially for the Parish and also inform you about a more detailed Financial update planned for February 2021.
I would, first of all, like to thank all parishioners again who have been so incredibly supportive of Ealing Abbey Parish over so many years and especially this year. Thank you to all those who got in contact during the first lockdown to support us financially online instead of the usual cash donation. I would also like to acknowledge all of you who have started contributing over the last few months. Your contribution enables us to continue to support the vibrant sacramental and pastoral life that we have as a Parish. We greatly appreciate your generosity and thoughtfulness in sharing what you have with the parish.
As you may know the Parish Finance Committee (PFC) meets 3 times a year with the Parish Priest to review the parish finances and identify areas that need attention. The committee met this week together with Ealing Abbey Trust Lay Bursar. The Parish Finance Committee is concerned about the state of the parish finances. The coronavirus pandemic and the result of 2 lockdowns, like for every family, employee and business is having a negative impact on our finances. The Parish’s ability to generate enough income to support the day-to- day running costs of the parish is becoming more and more challenging. Unfortunately, as a consequence the Parish Reserves are failing to cover the shortfall.
We are trying hard to put together a strategy on the best way to move forward. We as always need your help and support through prayer, financial support and professional expertise. If you think there is some way that you
could contribute or want to discuss this further, please do contact me by email@example.com or phone 020 8194 2301 or through the Parish website. We need your support, expertise, and prayers to enable Ealing Abbey Parish to continue to be the vibrant, lively and active parish community that it is.
Having said all that, I would like to draw your attention to 3 important steps we have taken to ensure we are in a better and stronger position to meet this challenge and also to ensure it is easier to donate to the Parish.
1. A new updated and improved Parish Website – Since August;
2. Live streaming of Masses – Since September;
3. Two donation portals; one at the back of the Church and the other at the Bookshop. Porch Entrance – Since October.
1. The New, improved and updated Parish Website – Since August;
The Parish Team appointed a new Catechetical Coordinator, Daniel Ferguson, in September 2018. We increased the hours of the post from 20 to 30 hours. This was to incorporate the coordination of the First Holy Communion programme, previously carried out by a volunteer. In January 2020 we added another 5 hours converting the position to a full-time one. These hours were specifically to focus on the Parish Website and the Online presence of the Parish. This gave us a good head-start when the first lockdown started in March. It also made it blatantly obvious just how inadequate our then website and online presence was. We had a lot of catching up to do. The Parish clearly lacked a good, user-friendly communication forum. Our goal thus was to enable us to post up-to-date information about Parish masses and events clearly and efficiently. The website needed to be a good and meaningful tool for the parish to communicate with especially when parishioners and others were unable to come to the church and access their day-to-day spiritual and practical needs. A lot of work was needed to make sure we got it right.
The new Website (www.ealingabbeyparish.uk) was launched in August 2020 and the feedback has been really good. A big thank you to Daniel for all the work he put in to researching and putting the content and layout together. A big thank you also to the parishioners who helped with the design, images and their expertise and constructive feedback.
I would also like to thank the anonymous parishioner who has pledged to fund the faster browser speed, a total pledge of £720 (a monthly charge of £20). This means that those who log onto the new website won’t get frustrated and give up by the length of time it takes load a page or to download an item of interest.
Our new website also includes a section to make it easy to donate to the Parish online and provides an easy way to register gift aid.
This is a huge improvement, and it is essential as we move forward. It has already made a significant difference.
While the new Website was being constructed, we started with a Parish Facebook page and a YouTube channel. A camera was donated by a parishioner which was used primarily to record mass from the Abbey Church 4 times a week and record talks, and messages from the Parish Priest and the Dear Parishioner letter. We also had the wonderful Pentecost Parishioner video which is still available to watch. It is an incredible example of the true vibrancy and spiritual depth of our parish life and togetherness.
If you haven’t already checked out our new Website (www.ealingabbeyparish.uk); Facebook & YouTube channel “St Benedict’s Catholic Parish Ealing”. Please do so and give us your feedback!
2. Live Streaming – Since September
Lockdown also made us realise that we needed to improve how we bring the Liturgy of the Abbey to parishioners and those further afield.
The need for Live Streaming became not just a necessity but mandatory. Church Services is a company based in Ireland which provides Live Streaming for many churches in Ireland (including Glenstal Abbey in Limerick) and the United Kingdom (including Westminster Cathedral). It is a considerable investment for the future. The set-up cost for installing camera and the necessary internet connection for Live Streaming from the church was £4,630.85. This was funded by a donation received from a parishioner. However, due to unusual outside audio interference which took longer than anticipated to locate and resolve, we had an extra cost of £570 for an additional I-Channel audio pre-amplifier and galvanised audio separator.
There is a £110.70 monthly charge for Live Streaming. We are funding this by charging for the Live streaming of funerals and weddings . This is standard practice. It also ensures that the Parish is not burdened by the additional expense.
The second lockdown began on Thursday, 4th November and is due to end on the 2nd of December. Live Streaming has meant that we have been able to continue
our normal mass schedule throughout these weeks as well as streaming the daily Monastic Horarium in the church.
3. 2 Donation portals; one at the back of the Church and the other at the Bookshop Porch Entrance – Since October.
Non-Cash Transactions. This has been an issue we have needed to address for a long time. Lockdown and the mode of transmission of the coronavirus has meant that even fewer people are carrying cash. After considerable investigation and with a lot of time and effort from Geraldine Nelson from Ealing Abbey Trust Finance office we ordered 2 Donation portals in July. These were due in September, but only arrived in mid-October 2020.
The cost of these two portals is a monthly charge of £55 each.
We have invested in new candle shrines. This has been funded by parishioners who wanted to have a dedication in the church for their family member.
Safeguarding continues to be a priority for the Parish. Since January 2019 we increased the hours of the Parish Secretary Maggi Curtin, now full time. We allocated 5 of these hours to support the administration aspects of safeguarding. Maggi has in reality spent far more hours in supporting our 3 Parish Safeguarding Representatives in the important administrative and extensive paperwork especially in relation to the processing of DBS applications.
All of this has been money well spent and a very important step in our journey to be a positive presence in Ealing in bringing the Catholic faith to our community.
As you can see, a lot has been happening over these last few months in 2020 to help us move forward as a modern forward-looking Parish into the 21st Century. As a result, the Parish is in a better position to face the significant challenge of balancing our books. We have been blessed and graced by the financial support of a number of individuals who have enabled such fundamental additional improvements to occur without putting further pressure and burden on the day- to-day expenses of the Parish.
I would like to thank the members of the Parish Finance Committee for their continued commitment and dedication in the giving of their time and expertise to support the effective financial administrative running of the parish.
I would also like to thank Sharon Daly, Lay Bursar for Ealing Abbey Trust, who will prepare the Financial Report presentation planned for February 2021 and for the support, dedication and professionalism that she is giving to the Parish.
I thank too Geraldine Nelson who runs the Ealing Abbey Trust Finance Office for her dedication and diligence in looking after the Parish finances over so many years. The Parish is very grateful to them both for their hard work and commitment.
I also want to thank again Radek Melnyk, our Monastery Site Estates Manager for the incredible hard work and time that he put into preparing the Church for reopening and making sure we are doing our very best to make everyone safe as they enter and exit and pray in the Abbey Church. He also played a pivotal role in coordinating the installation of the live streaming and the donation portals.
It took a considerable amount of organising and time to set up and to deal with the teething issues that emerged. I thank him very much for his dedication and patience throughout this process.
As we move into a new decade and a new era in parish life, we face a lot of challenges. The cost of running the parish and not only maintaining the services we are currently providing, but also managing the future requires more and more support.
Costs in Summary
Website Speed – £. 240.00 (pa)
Live Steaming – £4, 630.85. (Installation)
Additional I-Channel – £570.
Annual Cost – £ 1, 328.40 (Monthly £110.70)
2 Donation Portals – £ 1,320.00 (Monthly charge 110.00)
Coronavirus Sanitising Cost:
Church Sanitising 2 hours x £12.00 per hour is £24.00 per day
We have such a vibrant and active parish community and parish life.
Thank you all for the contributions you make. We support each other and keep each other safe by our collaboration with each other, our prayers and by living out our discipleship in our parish in Ealing. May the Lord continue to bless you all, guide and protect you and keep you safe and always in his care!
Fr Ambrose OSB, Parish Priest
29th November 2020