01 Oct 2021

Your guide to the Plenary Council

The Southern Cross October 2021

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What is a Plenary Council? – A Plenary Council is the highest formal gathering of all local churches in a country. The last Plenary Council in Australia took place in 1937.

Why are we having it? – There are many reasons for having a Plenary Council: Pope Francis has invited the local Church to dialogue; the contemporary society of Australia has changed significantly; and the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse has been a significant and influential event that requires deep consideration and response.

 Plenary-Council-Prayer-Card-Print-at-Home.pdf

01 Oct 2021

Local theologian among advisers

The Southern Cross October 2021

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Adelaide priest and theologian Fr James McEvoy (pictured) has been named as one of 20 advisers for the Plenary Council.

He will be joined by South Australian-born Columban priest Fr Patrick McInerney.

The advisers, described as some of the country’s leading Catholic thinkers, have been engaged to support the members as they gather for the first general assembly this month.

01 Oct 2021

Creating a missionary Church in Australia

The Southern Cross October 2021

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The agenda of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia calls those attending the Council assemblies to ‘develop concrete proposals to create a more missionary, Christ-centred Church in Australia’.

The agenda’s preamble draws from Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, which explores the Pope’s dream of a ‘missionary option’.

01 Oct 2021

Why a Plenary Council

The Southern Cross October 2021

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There have been times when I wondered if we would ever make it. But after all the delays and changes of plan, we have come at last to the first assembly of the Plenary Council, which has quite a pre-history.

The bishops took the decision to move to a Plenary Council in 2016, but the roots of that decision reach way back to the early 2000s. It was then that the late Archbishop Philip Wilson proposed that the time was right for the Church in Australia to prepare for some kind of national ecclesial event.

This was in the wake of Pope John Paul II’s letter at the end of the Year 2000, Novo Millennio Ineunte, in which he urged that all the Church’s organs of communion be galvanised to prepare for mission in the new millennium. These were also the years when the full force of the sexual abuse crisis was beginning to be felt.

01 Oct 2021

Fr Frank Gordon has experience on his side

The Southern Cross October 2021

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With the commencement of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, the first since 1937, the question asked by many is how the Church has changed since that last gathering.

While he doesn’t remember any specifics about that event 84 years ago, Fr Frank Gordon – one of the oldest members of the upcoming Council – is testament to the changes that have taken place.

02 Sep 2021

Providing voice at youth at Plenary Council

The Southern Cross September 2021

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With less than a month until the opening session of the Fifth Plenary Council assembly, lay member Maddy Forde is speaking to as many young people as possible to ready herself for her involvement in the process.

Originally she had planned to undertake these conversations face-to-face, but as the Plenary journey has demonstrated, people have had to adapt to the realities presented by COVID.

01 Aug 2021

Teamwork key for future of Church

The Southern Cross | August 2021

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Teamwork and the sharing of wisdom are critical for the success of the Plenary Council and beyond, according to one of the Archdiocese’s lay delegates who will attend the local hub assembly in October.

Ian Cameron said he felt privileged to participate in next month’s Diocesan Assembly and the Plenary Council gathering the following month and represent the views of the diverse Catholic community.

01 Jul 2021

On the road to the Plenary assembly

The Southern Cross | July 2021

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Prayer and her belief that the Holy Spirit is guiding the process is helping Kiara Ryan prepare for her participation in October’s Plenary Council assembly – that and everything she will learn while on the road with her family in the coming months.

As the fifth lay delegate named for the Adelaide Archdiocese, Kiara, 35, will be attending one of the assembly’s province hubs, most likely in Queensland, as for the next six months she and her husband Dan and four young sons are heading on the adventure of a lifetime.

01 Jul 2021

Plenary Council agenda calls for missionary Church

The Southern Cross | July 2021

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The agenda of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia calls those attending the Council assemblies to “develop concrete proposals to create a more missionary, Christ-centred Church in Australia”.

The Council agenda, which has emerged from three years and several layers of prayer, listening, dialogue and discernment, will shape the program of the Council’s assemblies – the first of which opens on October 3 this year.

01 Jun 2021

Prayer campaign for Plenary Council

The Southern Cross | June 2021

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Australian Catholics are being invited to join a month-long prayer campaign in the lead-up to the first assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, starting on October 3. Launched on the Feast of Pentecost last month, Fan the Flame will involve engaging with Scripture, papal writings and documents prepared for the Plenary Council to bring a focus to their prayers for the October assembly and beyond.

07 May 2021

Diocesan Assembly planning under way

The Southern Cross | May 2021

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About 400 people are expected to attend a Diocesan Assembly in September to reflect on the life of the local Church community, in conjunction with ongoing discernment for the Plenary Council taking place at a national level in October.

All parishes and migrant communities will have an opportunity to contribute to the Assembly in the preparation phase. A video is being produced for screening at Masses as the basis for feedback that will be collated and discussed at the Assembly.

05 May 2021

Assembly with a difference

The Southern Cross | May 2021

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For decades now, diocesan assemblies have been part of the repertoire of the Archdiocese of Adelaide, yet there’s something strikingly new about the 2021 Diocesan Assembly.

The first diocesan assembly after Vatican II was held in 1965, with a ground-breaking assembly held over a weekend in December 1985, and a ‘Spring Gathering’ in 2016.

On September 17 and 18 this year, delegates nominated from each region of the Archdiocese will gather with Archbishop O’Regan at Cabra College, Cumberland Park, to reflect on the life of our community, and to discern how we can more fully embrace our calling to be the People of God in this place. The event is being organised by a small committee led by Sarah Moffatt from the Archbishop’s office.

03 May 2021

Boy from Limerick keeps his eye on the big picture

The Southern Cross | May 2021

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Hallett Cove parishioner Kevin Liston is passionate about the role of lay Catholics and their everyday lives in shaping the future of the Church in Australia. In 2019 he started a series of forums inviting people to come and talk about their spirituality, how it developed and where it came from.

The group soon morphed into a more organised movement called SA Catholics for an Evolving Church which met via Zoom during COVID restrictions and is now a member of the Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform.

01 Apr 2021

Assembly crucial in shaping future of local Church

The Southern Cross - April 2021

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A Diocesan Assembly planned for September, together with the ongoing Plenary Council, will play a “crucial” part in shaping the future of the Catholic Church in Australia, according to respected local theologian Fr James McEvoy.

On the 40th anniversary of his priestly ordination and after more than three decades teaching and writing about theology – much of it looking at how faith and religion fit in today’s world – Fr McEvoy (pictured) is optimistic that the Church is heading in the right direction.

01 Mar 2021

Milestone for Plenary Council

The Southern Cross - March 2021

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The journey to the historic Fifth Plenary Council of Australia has reached a significant milestone with the release of the instrumentum laboris (working document).

President of the Plenary Council, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, said the document drew heavily on the voices of more than 220,000 people who participated in the Listening and Dialogue and Listening and Discernment phases of the Council, as well as from other key sources.

Entitled Continuing the Journey, the document “seeks to offer an account of what the People of God have expressed as an invitation for ongoing discernment”, and will help create the agenda for the assemblies.

05 Feb 2021

Holy Spirit brings two soul mates together

The Southern Cross - February 2021

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A modest bedroom in an aged care home in Warradale might seem an unlikely place for a discussion on the future of the Catholic Church in Australia but for 98-year-old Milton Howard it is simply a case of the Holy Spirit at work.

How else would he explain a visit from retired business leader and committed Catholic Graham Spurling and their ensuing conversations about the forthcoming Plenary Council.

How else would he explain a visit from retired business leader and committed Catholic Graham Spurling and their ensuing conversations about the forthcoming Plenary Council.

When Graham, a Brighton parishioner, went on the roster for dispersing the Eucharist to Catholics who can no longer attend Mass, one of the people on his list at Japara Aged Care Home was Milton.

05 Feb 2021

Sharing the legacy of our spiritual wealth

The Southern Cross - February 2021

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This year the Plenary Council of the Australian Catholic Church will meet to discuss new directions for the Church. The Council assures us that it will rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us but the laity is invited to speak up and express any ideas the parishioners may have.

The Council discussion papers have proposed that the Church will have to become ‘a Church that is poor and for the poor’.

There is some confusion about what is meant by ‘poor’. But let us hope it doesn’t mean ‘poor in performance’.

Does it mean ‘poor’ in ideas, or just plain ‘shabby poor’?

Will the new ‘poor Church’ dissolve into nothing but a sort of Catholic club of disgruntled people in a shed somewhere?

01 Oct 2020

Forum planned for Plenary journey

The Southern Cross newspaper – October 2020

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The Archdiocese’s journey of discernment to the Plenary Council will be “reignited” with a forum at Thebarton Community Centre later this month.

Plenary Council local coordinator Sarah Moffatt said COVID-19 had thrown many unexpected challenges in 2020, including the postponement of the first assembly of the Plenary Council until October 2021.

“The ongoing nature of our discernment has been a pivotal part of the Plenary Council process and there are plans for our own Archdiocese as we journey to the Plenary Council and beyond,” Ms Moffatt said.

01 Sep 2020

Moving towards Plenary

The Southern Cross newspaper – September 2020

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With the new dates for the Plenary Council assemblies now announced, the local facilitation team met recently to begin planning what this next phase will look like.

The team discussed various opportunities for engagement at the local level in the lead up to the first Assembly in Adelaide from October 3 to 10 2021.

02 Jul 2020

Revised dates for Plenary

The Southern Cross newspaper - July 2020

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The dates for the two assemblies for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia have been confirmed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

The first assembly will be held in Adelaide from October 3-10, 2021, and the second in Sydney from July 4-9, 2022.

The new dates mean that the celebration of the Plenary Council has effectively moved 12 months from the original plan of a first assembly in October 2020 and a second assembly in June/July 2021.

01 Apr 2020

Delegates named for Plenary assemblies

The Southern Cross newspaper – April 2020

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Plenary delegates named, assembly postponed  - click here

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Four South Australians who represent the diversity of the Catholic Church have been named as the Archdiocese’s lay delegates to attend the fifth Plenary Council of Australia.

Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB wrote to more than 250 Catholics across the country last month calling them as delegates. The first of two assemblies to be held is scheduled to take place in Adelaide in October.

The delegation from the Adelaide Archdiocese includes Archbishop-elect Patrick O’Regan, Administrator Delegate Fr Philip Marshall and lay representatives Maddy Forde, Monica Conway, Ian Cameron and Julian Nguyen.

01 Mar 2020

Plans progress for historic Council

The Southern Cross newspaper – March 2020

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Preparations are ramping up for the first assembly of the historic Plenary Council 2020 to be held in Adelaide from October 4-11.

The Plenary Council Steering Committee, chaired by Lana Turvey-Collins, met in Adelaide last month for two intensive days of planning.

More than 350 participants, including delegates, advisers and observers, are expected to attend the Plenary Council which will be the first of its kind to be held since the second Vatican Council. The last Plenary Council held in Australia was in 1937.

01 Nov 2019

Spotlight on Plenary Council

The Southern Cross newspaper – November 2019

The Plenary Council, which kicks off in Adelaide next year, is a “remarkable event” which has significance for the whole Church, not just Catholics in Australia, says Archbishop Mark Coleridge. Speaking on the ABC religious affairs program Compass, Archbishop Coleridge said that “people in Rome know that many others around the world are watching what’s happening Down Under”.

“I don’t want to overblow the thing at all but nonetheless many are watching, and Rome knows that,” he told host Geraldine Doogue.

“And Rome itself is intensely interested in what we’re doing.”

The first stage of the Plenary Council will be held from October 4-10 in Adelaide.

25 Sep 2019

Writing and Discernment Groups draw on Church's talent

CathNews September 26, 2019

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Seventy people from across the country – including a dozen bishops – will serve on the six Discernment and Writing Groups that will help the Plenary Council build towards its first session in October 2020.

As part of “Listening and Discernment”, the second phase of preparing for the Council, Discernment and Writing Groups will have the important task of preparing papers for consideration by Council delegates.

 190925 - Plenary Council 2020 - Writing and Discernment Groups draw on Church's talent.pdf

01 Sep 2019

Adelaide visit part of Plenary Council 2020 preparations

The Southern Cross newspaper – September 2019

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The Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council and its Executive Committee have met in Adelaide for the first time, 14 months before the Council’s opening session.

The first of two sessions of the Plenary Council will be held from October 4-10 next year in Adelaide.

01 Aug 2019

Plenary report published

The Southern Cross newspaper – August 2019

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The final report of the Listening and Dialogue phase of the Plenary Council has been published and is now available to the public. Prepared by the National Centre for Pastoral Research, the 314-page report provides insights into the 17,457 submissions received from May 2018 until March 2019.

01 Jul 2019

Plenary themes announced

The Southern Cross newspaper – July 2019

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The Plenary Council 2020 has moved into its next phase of preparation with the announcement on Pentecost Sunday of the National Themes for Discernment that emerged from a historic process of listening to the voices of more than 222,000 people. Almost 17,500 submissions, from individuals and groups of all sizes, addressed the Plenary Council’s central question: ‘What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?’

12 May 2019

Themes for Plenary to be released

The Southern Cross newspaper – May 2019

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The themes for the historic Plenary Council 2020 will be announced on Pentecost Sunday, June 9, as part of the launch of the listening and discernment phase of the Council. The National Centre for Pastoral Research (NCPR) is conducting qualitative and quantitative analysis of the submissions received during the Listening and Dialogue phase to identify key themes.

16 Apr 2019

Plenary listening to 222,000 voices

The Southern Cross newspaper – April 2019

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Plenary Council 2020 president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB says he and his fellow bishops have been “amazed” by the engagement of people across Australia in the Council’s opening stage. The Plenary Council’s Listening and Dialogue phase ended in March, concluding a period of almost 10 months for people to share their stories and consider the question ‘What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?’

01 Mar 2019

Plenary moves to next stage

The Southern Cross newspaper – March 2019

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While Ash Wednesday on March 6 will mark the end of the Plenary Council’s Listening and Dialogue phase, preparations are already underway for the next stage in the journey towards 2020.

During Lent, the Plenary will join the Catholic community in prayerful preparation for Easter and at Pentecost (June 9) will launch the Listening and Discernment stage, at the same time announcing the national themes for discernment which have emerged from the Listening and Dialogue responses.

15 Dec 2018

What is God asking of the Church?

The Southern Cross newspaper – December 2018

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More than 21,000 voices have contributed to the first phase of the Catholic Church’s three-year Plenary Council process which will culminate in two large gatherings, the first to be held in Adelaide in October 2020. Topics frequently raised include leadership and governance within the Church, the place and role of women, the importance of young people, the living tradition, liturgy and music, the priesthood and other vocations, inclusion and welcome, the sacramental life of the Church, ecology and creation, and social justice.

01 Nov 2018

Facilitating the Plenary journey

The Southern Cross newspaper – November 2018

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Learning ways to help people have their voices heard in the Plenary Council ‘conversation’ was the topic of discussion at a gathering in the Archdiocese last month. More than 65 representatives from parishes, schools and Church organisations attended the information session on being a facilitator for the dialogue and listening phase of the Council.

01 Oct 2018

Blackwood community forum to discuss the big question

The Southern Cross newspaper – October 2018

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The Blackwood parish is casting the net far and wide to hear what local community members think the Catholic Church in Australia should look like in the future. As part of the ‘listening and dialogue’ phase in the lead up to the Plenary Council 2020, the parish is holding a community event on Monday October 29. The Plenary Council Forum is being held at the Blackwood Community Centre, rather than at the church, to encourage more people to attend.

01 Sep 2018

A true picture of Church

The Southern Cross newspaper – September 2018

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Editorial – Jenny Brinkworth

At a time when many would say the Catholic Church is on the decline, it is interesting to note that the latest Census statistics show that the Catholic population in Australia has increased from 4.8 million to nearly 5.3 million over the past 10 years.

01 Aug 2018

Momentum building for Plenary Council

The Southern Cross newspaper – August 2018

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Thousands of people from across Australia have taken time in the two months since the Plenary Council 2020 officially launched at Pentecost to consider the future of the Catholic Church. In May, the Listening and Dialogue phase of the Plenary Council began, with resources created to help people across the country participate in a prayerful conversation to consider the question: “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”

01 Jun 2018

Adelaide to host historic gathering

The Southern Cross newspaper – June 2018

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Adelaide has been selected as the venue for the first of two historic national gatherings to consider the future of the Catholic Church in Australia. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference announced last month that the celebration of the first session of the Plenary Council would be held in Adelaide in October 2020.

...In a special message for the Catholic community in Australia, Pope Francis said that he hoped “through patient dialogue and faith-filled discernment, the conciliar journey will confirm the Catholics in Australia in a spirit of fraternal unity and missionary discipleship”...

01 May 2018

Adelaide begins journey to Plenary

The Southern Cross newspaper – May 2018

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The Adelaide Archdiocese has started its journey towards the Plenary Council in 2020 with the first strategy meeting involving key stakeholders being held last month. A range of groups within the diocese were represented at the meeting, which resulted in a number of ideas being put forward regarding ways of engaging people within the Adelaide Church.

...To be launched at the Pentecost Vigil on May 19 and continuing until Easter 2019, this process will enable people within the Church to discern together and reflect on their own faith experience, life experience and experience of Church.

01 Nov 2017

Journey to Plenary Council begins

The Southern Cross newspaper – November 2017

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Members of the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council, the Executive Committee and the Facilitation Team met over two days, providing an opportunity to share stories and their hopes for the Plenary Council. They discussed the history of the decision to hold a Plenary Council, reaching back to the apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte in 2000, through the Year of Grace in 2012, the royal commission which began in 2013, the election of Pope Francis in the same year and the Synods on Marriage and the Family in 2014 and 2015.

01 Aug 2017

Planning for future of Church

The Southern Cross newspaper – August 2017

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Two members of the Adelaide Archdiocese have been appointed to a committee that will work closely with the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission to prepare for the 2020 Plenary Council. Sarah Moffatt and John Lochowiak (above), together with 12 others from around Australia, have accepted an appointment to the Plenary Council Executive Committee. Ms Moffatt is the assistant director to chancellor Heather Carey and Mr Lochowiak is the manager of Aboriginal Services at Centacare Catholic Family Services.