Dear Fellow Parishioners,
In the past month or so several small groups of up to 10 or 12 participants have been meeting together from both our Primary Schools and our parish to carry out an exercise of discerning what God may be asking of us as a Church into the 21st Century. This is part of a program called by the Australian Bishops to prepare for a Plenary Council which will be held in 2020
Put simply, a Plenary Council is the highest form of communion between the various local or particular Churches of a nation. It is not simply a meeting of bishops but a process that calls for the participation of the entire Catholic community. It invites the whole Church into dialogue, to discern how its communities can live the Gospel with renewed vitality amidst new questions and challenges – particularly those presented to us by the Royal Commission. The Plenary Council itself will feature representation from among the laity, religious and ordained ministers, together with the bishops of Australia, as the culmination of a sustained pilgrimage in faith.
Pope Francis himself has encouraged the need to prayerfully discern together what the Spirit is saying to our Catholic community at this time because “A consulting Church is a Church which listens, which realises that listening ‘is more than simply hearing’. It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn – i.e. the faithful people, the college of bishops, the Bishop of Rome - all listening to each other, and all listening to the Holy Spirit, the ‘Spirit of truth’ (Jn 14:17), in order to know what it is ‘saying to the Churches’ (Rev 2:7).”
Plenary Council 2020 will be the fifth plenary council in Australia’s history with the last plenary council held in 1937, some 80 years ago. Two sessions for the Plenary Council have been proposed to the Holy See, the first session in the latter half of 2020 and the second session in May 2021. It will be an opportunity for us to name those issues that are important to our faith in charting a course for the future of the Catholic Church in Australia, and to share perspectives and practices that God can use to touch ordinary lives. Dialogue on the faith and mission of the Church will be encouraged.
As part of this dialogue I am calling together as many of the parish community as possible – from our schools, parent bodies, liturgical and music ministries, Alpha participants, GIFT volunteers and daily or weekly Mass goers - to share their ideas and life experience with one another, which will take place on Monday evening October 22nd at 7:00 pm in St. Kieran’s Parish Centre. You will be led through the process by St. Cecilia and St. Kieran parishioners who have undergone a training course so that the purpose of the exercise will be made clear and the opportunity for small group-sharing can take place. I encourage you to come along and experience this unique opportunity to be part of a catholic ‘think tank’ which will surface ideas and aspirations we hardly knew we had until they emerged from the sharing of our stories. Please give this your careful consideration.