Welcome to PlenaryPost
Welcome to the second edition of PlenaryPost, the Plenary Council e-newsletter. It has been a busy two weeks since the official launch of the Plenary Council 2020 process at Pentecost. As we outline below, many dioceses have held local events to mark the launch and dozens of people have already held Listening and Dialogue sessions and made a submission to the Plenary Council team.
As Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins explains below, a time of prayer and dialogue will help ensure that we “Listen to what the Spirit is saying” during this important first stage of the three-year Plenary Council process.
Plenary prep needs us to listen deeply to one another
by Lana Turvey-Collins
I am an optimistic, glass-half-full person. I know the difficulties and appreciate the challenges, but choose to be optimistic because I believe it makes achieving great change more likely. In this journey towards the Plenary Council we are asked to try to see what could become possible, to imagine a future that is different than anything we have experienced in the past and creatively imagine a new and emerging future.On Pentecost Sunday, we launched the first stage of preparing the Plenary Council agenda: the open Listening and Dialogue Encounters. This process invites you to speak about whatever is in your heart and mind and respond to the question: “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?” Then you can submit your response online. The invitation to pray and dialogue before sending in your response is an important one. It requires of us an openness of heart and mind, to listen deeply to the story of another’s experience – which might be very different than our own.We are trying to listen to God through listening to the stories and experiences of another person. It asks us to face the questions that trouble us, to share our sorrows and fears and our hopes and joys, to dialogue through difference and discover where the Spirit is leading us.I hope all people take up this invitation to get together with your friends, colleagues and family, to talk with one another, to share the stories of your experiences of faith and the Church and then take the opportunity to send it in online. This way, with all voices being heard, we can listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.
We will address a new question in each e-newsletter. To catch up on previous editions, you can check out the Plenary Council FAQ page. If you have a question, email it to us and we will include it in future editions of PlenaryPost.
The question for today is…
Why are we having a Plenary Council in 2020?
There are many reasons for having a Plenary Council for the Catholic Church in Australia: Pope Francis has invited the local church to dialogue; the contemporary society of Australia has changed significantly; and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been a significant and influential event that requires deep consideration and response.
When the Australian Catholic Bishops announced the decision to hold a Plenary Council, Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge said that “the Church is not the presence in our society it once was. We need to take a measure of that and make decisions accordingly. The culture in which we have to proclaim the Gospel is very different to what it was even 20 or 30 years ago.”
It is being held in 2020 in order to give the Catholic community in Australia time to listen, dialogue and discern with one another and, guided by the Holy Spirit, about the future, the role and relevance of the Catholic Church in Australia.
When we meet in Adelaide, we won’t be doing something completely novel
by Fr Noel Connolly SSC, Plenary Council Facilitation Team
The last Plenary Council was held in Sydney more than 80 years ago and was made up entirely of bishops and priests. This time, at least one-third of the delegates will be lay. It will also have world significance because Australia will be the first country to hold a Plenary Council with an open agenda. It will be watched by Churches all around the world.
In a way, our Plenary Council will seem new, but it will not be something completely novel. Ever since the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), most decisions of substance rested in the hands of councils or synods.
Cairns hosts primer for Plenary Council 2020
Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins joined dozens of Far North Queensland locals as Cairns Diocese hosted its initial gatherings to kick off the Plenary Council 2020 process. Read more here.
The Plenary Council 2020 process launched nationally on May 20 at Pentecost, with a number of dioceses and parishes holding local launches at Pentecost or in the subsequent days. Read more about some of the local launches or read bishops’ pastoral letters on Pentecost and the Plenary Council:
Send us your stories
The Plenary Council teams wants to share stories, images and video from around the country. Send your content to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know if you’re happy for us to share it with our community.