Australia’s Catholic bishops will travel to Rome in June for their visit Ad Limina Apostolorum, culminating in prayer and Mass at the tombs of Sts Peter and Paul.
Bishops conferences from around the world typically make the Ad Limina Apostolorum visit, translated as “To the threshold of the Apostles”, every five years. However, with the change of Pope in 2013 and Ad Limina visits cancelled during the Year of Mercy, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has not made the visit since 2011.
Catholic communities throughout Australia are holding events today to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Andrea Dean, director of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s Office for the Participation of Women, said events included a Canberra breakfast with guest speakers, award ceremonies to recognise the contributions of women to the life and work of the Church and the expansion of a Catholic Women’s mentoring program.
While people were still sharing their stories of faith and of God with the Plenary Council last night and the final numbers won’t be known for a couple of weeks, the Council’s Listening and Dialogue stage is considered a “landmark moment” for the Catholic Church in Australia.
Plenary Council 2020 president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB expressed his gratitude for the faith, energy and generosity of people everywhere who have shared so honestly.
In the lead-up to International Women’s Day on Friday, the Catholic Bishops of Australia have acknowledged the inspirational work of women throughout the country who now make up 77 per cent of the Church’s workforce.
And with more than 65 per cent of leadership or lay ministry roles within the Church exercised by women, the work of women in Church structures and organisations has become increasingly critical.
The teachings and concrete example of Pope Francis’ actions continue to inspire and inform the leadership style of Western Australian community service CEO Debra Zanella.
The Ruah Community Services CEO, who has 20 years’ experience in the community sector and is a strong advocate for vulnerable and disadvantaged people, spoke at the recent Stirring the Waters: Australian Catholic Women Responding to the Spirit colloquium in Adelaide.
Catholic leaders are praying for survivors in the wake of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction for historical sexual abuse, but also seeking to support their local communities.
Since the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference issued a statement from its president, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, a number of bishops have written letters to their communities, acknowledging the ongoing legal process via an appeal, but also the range of emotions people are feeling.
The bishop responsible for the Catholic Church’s engagement with Indigenous Australians says the Church is a key player in the country’s effort to address the sobering findings in the latest Closing the Gap report.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this month acknowledged that just two of the seven Closing the Gap targets are on track to be achieved. The seven targets relate to health, education and employment outcomes.
Catholic women have been urged to add their voices to help shape the future life and direction of the Church through the Plenary Council 2020 Listening and Dialogue process, which ends on Ash Wednesday.
The call to action was made in Adelaide over the weekend at the “Stirring the Waters: Australian Catholic Women Responding to the Spirit” colloquium, where more than 160 delegates gathered to be part of frank and open discussion, prayerful discernment and planning.
The first call for those working in social services is to see the need of others through the eyes of God, Lismore Bishop Greg Homeming OCD has told Catholic social service leaders from across the country.
On a day when tributes to the late Fr Leo Donnelly featured prominently, Bishop Homeming issued his challenge – and invitation – at the Catholic Social Services Australia national conference.
This year’s conference is being held in Port Macquarie because of Fr Donnelly’s work over almost 50 years in the New South Wales town, where he helped integrate Catholic ministries to respond to the needs of the community.
The conference theme is “Meeting the Unmet Need”.
Bishop Homeming said “Fr D”, as he was known, was the only example he’s seen of someone who exemplifies the Aristotelian virtue of megalopsuchia, often translated inadequately as “magnanimity”.
“Such people do exist, but they’re very rare. And I met my first and only megalopsuchos in Fr Leo Donnelly,” Bishop Homeming said in the inaugural Fr Leo Donnelly Oration.
“The best way to describe a megalopsuchos is his body is not big enough to contain his soul – someone whose soul, whose capacity for goodness, whose compassion, whose virtue is so great that it just bursts out of them.
“Port Macquarie had such a man for 48 years. We are honouring that man whose soul was too big.”
Bishop Homeming’s oration centred on two often-challenging Scripture passages: “The poor will be with you always” and “Be compassionate, as your heavenly Father is compassionate”.
“Christian charity begins with being able to see God not in the problem, but in the people,” he said.
“We are not solving poverty, we are meeting God in the people and bringing God to those people who seemingly don’t experience God.
“It’s not our job to solve poverty, but I believe it’s my job to find God in the people – because then they are people, and not a problem.
“Because until I can find God, how do I know what God wants me to do? Our work, because it is the Church’s work, is God’s work. We are simply the instruments of God.”
Fr Homeming said that is what he believes Fr Donnelly saw – more than a need.
The Bishops Commission for Catholic Education has completed its search for a new Executive Director of the National Catholic Education Commission and I am pleased to announce that Jacinta Collins will serve in that role.
Jacinta, who recently announced she is retiring from federal politics, has had a long personal and professional connection with the Catholic Church. She has been a strong advocate for education – across all sectors – in the Parliament. She has worked in early childhood and school education portfolios and other committees with even broader educational oversight.