The Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council and its Executive Committee have met in Adelaide for the first time, 14 months before the Council’s opening session in the South Australian capital.
Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said the gathering of the two groups this week came at a liminal moment in the Plenary Council journey.“We recently completed the critical period of Listening and Dialogue, which closed with the publication of the comprehensive report summarising the voices of more than 222,000 people who shared their stories of faith and their experiences of the Church,” he explained.
“Now, with the six National Themes for Discernment having emerged from that phase, we move into a period of Listening and Discernment, when Discernment and Writing groups will steer a national process that helps us move towards a deeper understanding of how we can become an even more Christ-centred Church in diverse ways.
“Importantly, everyone who participated in the first phase – as well as those who didn’t – will get the chance to participate in an Australia-wide process of prayerfully discerning how the Holy Spirit is calling the Church to renew.”
Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins said there was an overwhelming response to the call for applications to join the national Discernment and Writing groups, which was an additional sign of the level of engagement in the Plenary Council process.
“With 50 to 60 lay people, religious and priests set to join 12 bishops across those six groups, it was very encouraging to have nearly 400 people offer to be part of the Discernment and Writing groups – many more than we are able to appoint to the role,” she said.
“Every person, whether on the Discernment and Writing groups or not, is able to enter into this next prayerful stage of discerning how we are being called to go forward.
“A guide for small group discernment is available for use in families, parishes, communities and other contexts, ensuring the practice of listening and of co-responsible mission remains central to the process of preparing for the Plenary Council, as well as being beneficial for living out our faith into the future.”
Ms Turvey-Collins said one of the goals of the Adelaide visit was to ensure that the venue chosen for the opening session will nurture an atmosphere for communal discernment, prayerful liturgy and Spirit-led conversations.
“The Plenary Council will be a landmark event for the Church in Australia and part of allowing that to happen is having an environment that encourages all delegates to fully participate in the session and bring forward their gifts,” she said.
“It was a fruitful meeting and we are excited to work together with the local Church in Adelaide as we prepare for this historic event.”
The first session of the Plenary Council will be held from October 4-10, 2020.
Additional information on the Plenary Council can be found on the Plenary Council website.