By Jamie O’Brien and Eric Martin
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has called for the people of the Archdiocese to open their minds and hearts to the power of the Spirit, during the Perth launch of the second phase of the 2020 Plenary Council.
The second Phase of the 2020 Plenary Council – Listening and Discernment, will be officially launched nationally this coming weekend, Sunday 9 June, on the Feast of Pentecost.
The national launch will include the announcement of the issues and themes, as well as the initiation of the Listening and Discernment process.
Speaking during his homily at Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on Sunday 2 June on the Feast of the Ascension, Archbishop Costelloe continued by saying that as we enter now into this crucial moment of listening and deep discernment, as we try to ‘catch’ the voice of God speaking in and through the voices of his people, he would like to ask those present to play their part.
“Especially through prayer and also where possible through engagement with the process of discernment,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“So that our community of faith, just like the first community gathered in Jerusalem at Pentecost, will wait in prayer and expectation for the power from on high, the Holy Spirit, who will lead us into the fullness of the truth and remind us of all that Jesus said and did,” he said.
Concelebrating with Archbishop Costelloe was St Mary’s Assistant Parish Priest Father CJ Millen with Bateman Parish Deacon Bruce Talbot assisting.
The Listening and Discernment phase of the 2020 Plenary Council will be an opportunity for people to engage with the issues and themes, which have been developed following the 220,000 submissions from the initial Listening and Dialogue phase.
As part of the liturgy of the Mass to mark the transition from Listening and Dialogue to Listening and Discernment, Cathedral parishioners Kath Jaques, Don Hegarty and Lolita Hegarty brought up an Olive Tree to the Sanctuary, which were blessed by Archbishop Costelloe.
Parishes are also being encouraged to purchase and place an Olive Tree, next to their Plenary Council Candle, as a symbol of hope and the expectation of new life.
At the end of the Listening and Discernment Phase, the Olive Tree can be planted as a reminder of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Archbishop Costelloe continued his homily by saying that we are being called to let the Holy Spirit remind us of all that Jesus said and did.
“We are a community of disciples of Jesus. It is Jesus who is our Way and our Truth and our Life.
“Fidelity to his Way and his Truth and his Life, especially as found in the inspired pages of the Gospel, must govern all we say and do.
“Fidelity to Jesus Christ, the face of the God of mercy, made known to us in the pages of the gospel; fidelity to the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit through the long life of the Church and still today, leading us into the fullness of the truth; and fidelity to the people of our own time who have a right to have the gospel of hope preached to them in a way that they can understand: this is the goal of the Plenary Council.”
More information on the themes, issues and process will be featured in next week’s edition of The eRecord.
Discernment: A ‘gift we must implore’
Reflecting on the almost 10 months since the Listening and Dialogue process opened at Pentecost in 2018, Archbishop Costelloe said it had been impossible to predict how things would unfold.
“With no precedent for a national invitation to prayer, dialogue and sharing of stories, there was a sense of stepping into the unknown and being unsure of what the experience might become,” he explained.
“What we found, though, was an Australian community that was enthusiastic to consider the question, ‘What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?’”
“We have heard from our colleagues at the National Centre for Pastoral Research that there was an influx of submissions during February and a deluge in the final days leading up to Ash Wednesday,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“This is a landmark moment for the Church – not only in terms of the stories that have been shared, but also in the new relationships that have formed after encountering one another in dialogue. The change that this brings is already evident among people from all parts of the Church.”
In the last weeks of May, more than 75 people met to listen to and understand the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the submissions received during the 10-month Listening and Dialogue phase.
Headed by Director Dr Trudy Dantis, the National Centre for Pastoral Research team, used best-practice social research analysis skills and software to analyse the almost 17,500 group and individual submissions. Over three days, the team provided their insights for those attending the meeting.
“Our job was to review and report on how people responded to the question ‘What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?’,” explained Dr Dantis.
Among those in attendance during the presentation of the data were members of the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council, the Plenary Council Executive Committee and the Plenary Council Facilitation Team.
Archbishop Costelloe said it was a significant responsibility to listen to the stories from the hearts and minds of ordinary Catholics across a huge variety of contexts – sometimes in harmony with one another, at other times divergent.
“This was done by listening to the information Dr Dantis and her colleagues presented, then taking time for reflection on those subject areas in prayer,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“There were many moments of communal and individual prayer, as part of communal discernment over the three days we met.
“Indeed, the next phase of this preparation stage of the Plenary Council is Listening and Discernment, so we practised discernment ourselves to help us consider how we can move into this next phase of preparation.”
Members of the Plenary Council Local Coordinators Network, representing dioceses and archdioceses, also met during this time to discuss how the National Themes for Discernment could be communicated and considered by people in their local faith communities.
“As with other meetings of this group of about 50 people from around the country, there was an incredible energy in the room,” said Plenary Council Facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins.
“The enthusiasm of people for the Plenary Council process, and the desire to be involved, was evident during the Listening and Dialogue phase. The reality is that the local coordinators are the heartbeat of local activity for the Plenary Council process and seeking their wisdom and advice was essential as we prepare to move forward together.”