Plenary Post_Edition 18




Plenary Council 2020

Welcome to PlenaryPost

The Plenary Council process so far has been an exercise in listening, in dialogue, in conversation — in changing the way the People of God communicate with one another, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

It has also been a process of numbers. Over 10 months, at least 222,000 people chose to be part of that period of listening and dialogue with one another. Their voices were represented in the 17,457 submissions that were received by the National Centre for Pastoral Research. From those submissions, quantitative and qualitative analysis pinpointed around 120 subject areas. And after a period of analysis, prayer and discernment, six National Themes for Discernment emerged, and will now shape the next stage of the Council’s preparation period: Listening and Discernment.

There’s a lot more information below on the National Themes for Discernment, the process so far and going forward, and on initiatives around the country to start quickly on this new stage.

At Pentecost, the Plenary Council website was also re-launched, with new material added to help people understand the National Themes for Discernment and how they can continue to be involved in the second phase of preparation.

Video: The National Themes for Discernment

FacilitatorFocus:Image result for lana turvey-collins

Listening, dialogue and prayer have carried us to this point


by Lana Turvey-Collins


It is a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit that the Church in Australia has reached this point in the journey toward the Plenary Council. As we begin the second stage of preparation – Listening and Discernment – I have been thinking about what has brought us here.

The past 18 months have been an experience of personal growth and professional inspiration and I am deeply grateful to every person who is a part of shaping this journey. Each person who has given time, prayer, skills and energy to any part of the Plenary Council journey is invaluable. Thank you from all of us here at the Facilitation Team.

Earlier this year, Dr Trudy Dantis and her team at the National Centre for Pastoral Research began reading all of your submissions and then, in late May, the Bishops Commission joined by the Executive Committee and the Facilitation Team came together at St Peter Canisius House in Pymble, NSW, for three days of listening to Trudy and her team explain to us what all of you had shared so generously.

They were days of deep prayer, open-hearted listening and intense conversation that I found personally very challenging and profoundly faith-filled. The six National Themes for Discernment that resulted from your submissions and those days of prayer provide for all of us a framework for taking the next step forward together.

Now we are challenged to look forward, to face some “big questions”, to listen to one another even more deeply as we discern:

How is God calling us to be a Christ-centred Church in Australia that is missionary and evangelising; inclusive, participatory and synodal; prayerful and Eucharistic; humble, healing and merciful?

How are we called to be a joyful, hope-filled, servant community, one that is open to conversion, renewal and reform?



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 agenda for the Plenary Council in 2020? 

The agenda for the Plenary Council will be developed over the coming 12 months (2019-2020) in response to the fruits of discernment. During this second stage of preparation for the Plenary Council, Listening and Discernment, every person is invited to take time to read and reflect on the responses given during the Listening and Dialogue stage, to listen to all the many and diverse voices of the People of God in Australia. Each of the National Themes for Discernment will have a Working Group established and it will be the groups’ task to write the working papers that will be the foundation for the agenda for the first session of the Plenary Council..


Holy Week: Jesus died to prove how good we are

by Fr Noel Connolly SSC, Plenary Council Facilitation Team


Friedrich Nietzsche, the atheistic, “death of God” philosopher, was fond of taunting his Christian friends with: “I’ll believe in your redeemer when you look more redeemed.”

Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium makes a similar challenge. He asks, what kind of missionaries are Christians who look like “Lent without Easter” (6), or people “who have just come back from a funeral” (10), “querulous and disillusioned pessimists, sourpusses” (85), “defeated generals” (96)?

He prays, “May the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelisers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervour, who have first received the joy of Christ.” (10)

So, even at a time when the Church has never been more criticised and questioned, it is important that we rediscover our joy in being Christian and share this with our secular brother and sister Australians.

We may never be a perfect Church, but hopefully we can come across as a more attractive, “redeemed” and servant Church.

Click here to read Fr Noel’s full article.


National Themes for Discernment launched

Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB says the six National Themes for Discernment that will shape the Council’s next phase seek to capture what people across Australia are “yearning for”.

In a media release announcing those National Themes for Discernment, Archbishop Costelloe acknowledged the work of the National Centre for Pastoral Research in pinpointing more than 100 subject areas that were recurring in submissions to the Plenary Council.

Those subject areas “described what one might call ‘the messy reality’ of Catholic life in Australia today”.

“The voices of the faithful help all of us to understand something of the historical experience and the current reality of the Catholic Church in Australia,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“We worked to discern what people were yearning for as we move into this next stage of preparing for the Plenary Council.”

Archbishop Costelloe said there was a clear desire expressed for the Church to renew herself and focus on the person of Jesus Christ, which saw the National Themes for Discernment all flowing from “that primary goal of being a Christ-centred community of people”.

Click here to read the full media release.

Plenary Council high on bishops’ Rome agenda

When the Australian bishops head to Rome later this week, the Plenary Council will be a significant focus for prayer, for meetings with Pope Francis and officials from the Holy See, as well as a retreat.

Last year, the bishops agreed that a retreat to help them focus on the Plenary Council, including their role in the Council and the importance of discernment, would be a good idea. When the five-yearly Ad Limina Apostolorum visit was confirmed for June 2019, it was decided the retreat could be held just before that week-long pilgrimage to the tombs of the apostles, Peter and Paul.

Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said the bishops at the retreat “will take the opportunity to reflect carefully on the National Themes for Discernment and share our reflections and conclusions with the Plenary Council’s Facilitation Team and the Executive Committee, based on our own prayerful discernment and pastoral experience”.

While in Rome, a delegation of bishops will also meet with officials from the Congregation for Bishops, whose responsibilities include plenary councils.

Plenary Council a focus for young women leaders

The Archdiocese of Perth was quick to launch the second phase of preparation for the Plenary Council — Listening and Discernment — with a special Mass on June 2, the Feast of the Ascension.

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, who is also president of the Plenary Council, said one of the tasks of the next phase of the Council is to try to “catch” the voice of God speaking in and through the voices of his people.

“Especially through prayer and also where possible through engagement with the process of discernment,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“So that our community of faith, just like the first community gathered in Jerusalem at Pentecost, will wait in prayer and expectation for the power from on high, the Holy Spirit, who will lead us into the fullness of the truth and remind us of all that Jesus said and did.”

Click here to read more from The eRecord.

Plenary Council 2020

Broken Bay launches Year of Discernment


The Diocese of Broken Bay, from where a very large number of submissions to the Plenary Council came, has launched a Year of Discernment.

The period has been dedicated to discernment in order to “discover together the concrete path that God is calling us on as individuals and as a community of Christians”, a diocesan statement said.

“This Year of Discernment will invite us to become sensitive to the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit who enables us to be faithful to Jesus in the present and who continually invites greater life in our future, abundance where there is poverty, communion where this is division, hope where this is despair, possibility where there is seeming limitation,” it said.

“As it has been said, when the Spirit breaks in there comes the hope of a new day and the courage and strength to move toward it.”

Click here to read more on the Broken Bay Diocese’s website.

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