Welcome to PlenaryPost
The first seven weeks of the Plenary Council’s Listening and Dialogue process have flown by and submissions continue to flood in through the Plenary Council’s website. In the next edition of PlenaryPost we’ll let you know what you’re telling us about what you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time.
We are hearing stories from across the country of dynamic and Spirit-filled conversations taking place. We’re also hearing that some people are better at the speaking part than the listening part. The Plenary Council will be most fruitful and most successful if people are willing to listen to others because, as Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has said, we are able to “Listen to God by listening to one another”.
In this video, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane speaks about what a “Plenary Council” is and how it’s critical that the whole Church gets involved to discern what the Spirit is saying to the People of God in Australia.
Listening and dialogue must be grounded in prayer
by Lana Turvey-Collins
Trusting this preparation process to God is something that I find is both easy and hard to do.
It’s easy in the sense that I have deep faith that the Holy Spirit is very much leading this process. With the benefit of hindsight, I can look back upon the last six months and see where God has had a clear hand in guiding decisions one way or the other, or has dismantled hurdles seemingly in the way, or has provided comfort through the kindness and loving response from another pilgrim on the journey.
It’s hard in the sense that we want certainty, assurances that we are doing and saying the “right” thing, evidence that we are moving toward positive outcomes and guarantees that our Church in Australia will be better for experiencing this preparatory process toward the Plenary Council than it otherwise would have been without it.
Leaning into the uncertainty of where the Holy Spirit might lead us all can be something that creates feelings of fear or hope. The difference between feeling one or the other is faith. In times of doubt, it is more difficult to quieten our fears and desire for certainty. When there is deep trust and belief that God is with us, that the Holy Spirit is leading us, then we can be filled with hope and propelled into action.
For these reasons, grounding this stage of open listening and dialogue with one another in prayer is essential. Praying together, sharing stories with one another of one’s experiences of faith and of the Church, and exploring together “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?” is something that can bring light to darkness, refresh the soul and connect hearts with hearts.
The more we do this, the more clearly we will be able to “listen to what the Spirit is saying” (Rev 2:7).
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…
What will be on the Plenary Council agenda?
The agenda for the first session of the Council will be formed in response to the dialogue and listening process that will happen during 2018-19. After an open and inclusive process of listening, dialogue, prayer and discernment, we will form the Council agenda in late 2019 and early 2020.
What does it mean to live the life and mission of
Jesus in contemporary Australian society?
by Daniel Ang,
Diocese of Broken Bay; Member of the Plenary Council Executive Committee
The Plenary Council is more than a single event to be held in the year 2020. [It is] an extended process that invites the entire Catholic community, even now, to “walk the path of dialogue” and interpret what God is doing today and how God is calling the Church to live the Gospel into the future.
We are invited by the announcement of a Plenary Council to develop together a culture of dialogue and discernment to determine how best to ensure the pastoral needs of the people of God are provided for and, with regard for the universal law of the Church, “to decide what seems opportune for the increase of faith, the organisation of common pastoral action, and the regulation of morals and of the common ecclesiastical discipline which is to be observed, promoted and protected” (Code of Canon Law, c.445).
Guide helps parishes prepare for Plenary Council
With many dioceses and parishes across the country still commencing the Listening and Dialogue phase, which will shape the agenda for the Plenary Council, a new guide will help them invite people to get involved.
The Parish Guide includes intercessory prayers, homily notes, parish bulletin notices and other material to make life easier for busy parish priests and parish workers. The guide could also be helpful for schools and other Catholic agencies.
Almost 130 secondary school leaders were among the youngest groups that have been introduced to the Plenary Council’s Listening and Dialogue process after Lana Turvey-Collins visited a recent Catholic Education Western Australia gathering.
The CEWA Youth Summit at the University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus had the theme “Your voice is needed – join in!” Ms Turvey-Collins, who encouraged the young people to see themselves as the “now” of the Church, not just its future, said their voice was definitely needed during the Plenary Council process.
ACU offers short courses on future of the Catholic Church
Short courses at Australian Catholic University campuses in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane are being seen as ideal preparation for people looking to engage with the Plenary Council.
The four-week courses, which feature one two-hour session each week, are entitled “Listening to the Spirit: Towards the Plenary Council of 2020.”
As well as ACU academics, the sessions will be facilitated by senior leaders from Catholic education, from diocesan offices and, in some locations, bishops.
Send us your stories
The Plenary Council teams wants to share stories, images and video from around the country. Send content to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know if you’re happy for us to share it with our community.