Dioceses join in the Plenary Council spirit

Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright has convoked a diocesan synod commencing in November this year, one of a number of events around the country building towards the Plenary Council and beyond.

Bishop Wright made the announcement in a homily delivered at Hamilton’s Sacred Heart Cathedral on August 8, the Solemnity of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.Explaining the diocesan synod approach, Bishop Wright said it is a process by which “the people of God walk together a journey, trying to respond more fully to God”.

He said the synod would run for several years to “examine, reflect on the state, the Church, the faith of Christ among us and to find ways to more faithfully fulfil our calling to be the body of Christ and the witness to His Gospel and His salvation in our community around us”.

The process will begin on November 23 this year with “a day of prayer and of thought”. The first session of the synod will take place a year later.

“In the meantime, in our communities, we will be gathering to think, to pray, to seek out, from a process of discernment where God will speak to us things that are important for us, as we try and move forward more faithfully as Christ’s Church,” Bishop Wright said.

He said it was appropriate to convoke the synod on the feast of Mary MacKillop “because in many ways Mary represents for us the type of Church that we do aspire to be”, reflected in the Scripture readings of that day.

Meanwhile, preparations for the Brisbane Gathering in October, an archdiocesan event expected to attract 600 people, are gaining momentum.

The event will be held at St Laurence’s College, South Brisbane, where participants will be taken through a process of listening and discernment, with the gathering to consider what the agenda for the Plenary Council 2020 could look like.

Furthermore, a “Listening and dialogue” process in Queensland’s Rockhampton diocese, which began prior to the Plenary Council’s announcement, culminated in a diocesan assembly earlier this year, when ways to undertake mission in a very large and dispersed diocese were explored.

A Rockhampton diocese spokeswoman said: “Regional pastoral groups and diocesan task groups were established and are currently investigating priorities such as youth and multicultural engagement, governance and lay leadership formation.

“This will result in the establishment of a new diocesan pastoral council and work plan for the Rockhampton Diocese. Much of what we learned during our listening and dialogue phase about matters for consideration by the wider Australian Church will feed into the Plenary Council as we move forward.”

The Church in Australia has just moved into the second preparatory phase of the Plenary Council: “Listening and Discernment.” The Plenary Council sessions will be held in 2020 and 2021.

The last Plenary Council in Australia was held more than 80 years ago.

For more information about the Plenary Council, including the six National Themes for Discernment, visit the Plenary Council website.