The newly formed national advisory body to the Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry met with the bishops that comprise the Commission in Sydney last week.
Due to eased travel restrictions, seven of the nine members of the new Council for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry were able to attend in person, with seven of the Commission’s eight bishops present over two days at Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney. Those unable to attend in person joined the event online.
Shayne Bennett, Peter Bierer, James Camden, Catherine Cooney, Kylie Cullen, Jwan Kada, Terry Lees, Lisa McKerr and Fr Chris Ryan MGL form the new Council, with members chosen through an expressions of interest process last year.
During the first evening of the gathering, Council members were provided with an introduction to the various works of the Commission, which is responsible for animating the primary call of the baptised to evangelisation. The Commission also supervises the work of the National Centre for Evangelisation and the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office.
The Commission dealt with its business agenda on the second day of the gathering, which introduced the current work of the Commission, as well as facilitating a lively discussion on evangelisation in the contemporary context.
The Commission welcomed Ukrainian Bishop Mykola Bychok as a new member and paid tribute to the contributions of former member, recently deceased Bishop Bill Wright.
To conclude the gathering, the new Council members were commissioned by Bishop Brian Mascord in Alma Cottage, the home of St Mary MacKillop. Each new member was presented with an olive wood cross from Jerusalem.
Brisbane’s Lisa McKerr said the event was a great example of co-responsibility in action.
“The commission has a broad scope of responsibilities and it was important to listen and contribute in areas beyond our own specific expertise,” she said.
Commission chair Archbishop Christopher Prowse said the gathering provided the bishops with an opportunity to collaborate with members of the laity.
“I thought it was a wonderful synodal way of our Bishops Commission of listening to and receiving advice from our newly formed Council,” he said.
“It may provide an example for other commissions who have or are soon to have councils of their own.”
Bishop Shane Mackinlay agreed the gathering provided the bishops with a unique insight into the Church from the perspective of the laity.
“This felt like a meeting involving all parts of the Church, whereas our usual Commission meetings have heard voices of the wider Church only second-hand,” he said.
The Council’s purpose is to assist the Commission with insights, experiences and consultation with local Catholic communities. It will also advise the Commission in planning and developing strategies related to outreach, evangelisation and formation, among other tasks.
More information about the Council and the Commission can be found at https://www.catholic.org.au/commissions/bishops-commission-for-evangelisation