Towards a synodal church
This week the long-awaited Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia begins.
It has been three years since the decision to hold a Plenary Council was announced. The People of God, across this Great South Land of the Holy Spirit, began preparing for this historic moment by listening to the Word of God and by listening to one another’s stories of faith.
You may recall that our own parishes entered into the listening and dialogue sessions and each of them made a submission to the Plenary Council preparation team.
And so now the moment has arrived when the Catholic Church of Australia will gather for the first assembly of the Plenary Council from 3-10 October 2021.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the First Assembly will be held in online mode. Delegates from around the country will participate. There will be 17 members in this gathering who have been called from the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
The Plenary Council website will provide daily live streams of parts of the opening Plenary sessions and Masses (including the Opening Mass on Sunday, 3 October). Plenary Council Masses and daily morning prayer booklets for full participation are available here.
You might want to follow religious commentator and journalist Geraldine Doogue on her daily Plenary Matters podcast.
You can also follow ABC journalist Genevieve Jacobs who will be tracking the events of the Council as well.
In our own parishes, I am inviting you all to attend a Combined Parishes Meeting on Sunday, 17 October at 10.30 am. This gathering, which will happen via Zoom, will be an opportunity for us to gather together and celebrate the Liturgy of the Word and then to reflect on the last year and begin to outline our plans for the future. Every parishioner is welcome to attend and to make your contribution. You can view the agenda and various proposals for the future of our parishes and also register to attend on our website with various printable versions of the papers available for those who would like to share them with parishioners who may not be online.
Our Parish meeting is designed to do at the local level what Pope Francis is asking the Church to do around the world. He is inviting all dioceses and parishes to begin a series of discussions from 17 October this year in preparation for the 2023 Synod on Synodality. A Synodal Church is a more inclusive Church, one that listens and one that promotes co-responsibility for the life of the Church and its mission. Will Pope Francis achieve this dream for the Church? It is hard to know. In the meantime, follow the Plenary Council and come along to our own parish meeting on 17 October. Let’s at least see what we can do at the local level.