By Matthew Lau
People of the Perth Catholic community have utilised the opportunity to make their voices heard in the build up to the 2020 Plenary Council.
More than 180 local representatives from across the Archdiocese of Perth – officially known as Animators – have led group sessions in parishes and various other communities that work to encourage people to participate in the Listening and Dialogue encounters.
Since the launch of the Plenary Council’s open Listening and Dialogue stage at Pentecost, individuals and groups – large and small – have shared their stories of life and faith.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference revealed that by the end of September 2018, more than 10,000 individuals had contributed their responses.
Plenary Council 2020 facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins says she hopes this figure is just the tip of the iceberg as the Church builds towards the Plenary Council sessions, which will be held in Adelaide in October 2020 and then again in May 2021 in an eastern state metropolitan city yet to be decided.
Three Perth Catholics recently shared their experience with The Record Magazine on what they believe God wants the Church in Australia to do in order to bolster a brighter future.
Francis Waring is a member of the Sacred Heart steering committee in Thornlie.
“I would hope that the Church can heal itself and overcome the recent injuries to its image. I believe that this can be achieved if we put great emphasis on the love of God,” Mr Waring said.
“I believe that the main way is by being living examples of his love, by reaching out with compassion and genuine concern. By sharing what God means in our lives. Helping them to understand that the message of God’s love is in all the things and people around us.”
Scripture is the key guide to how God wants to be part of our life, he said.
“The words of scripture are leading me to a greater understanding of what my relationship with him should be, so that I can learn from the real examples and parables how I should be living my life.”
Vicki Buchanan of Holy Spirit Church, City Beach Parish, hopes the Church in Australia can find a way to “reconcile its irrefutable mission to teach people the ideals of Christian living with the ability to welcome all who genuinely seek the grace of the Eucharist and the fellowship of believers in their lives”.
“My wish is that we, the Church, can internalise the humility and compassion of leaders like Pope Francis and Mother Teresa, who remind us that Jesus showed love, not condemnation, to the people he encountered,” Mrs Buchanan said.
“I have felt God’s presence at some challenging times in my life when my prayers were particularly fervent. Those special moments nourish my ongoing faith and inspire me to keep praying.
“I can’t visualise an image of God, but I try to imagine myself in His place, reaching out and shaping the galaxies. It is a strangely comforting way of feeling connected to the divine in the universe,” she added.
Gerald Stack is an Animator for St Aloysius Church, Shenton Park Parish.
The parish has hosted four meetings with adjoining parishes –Subiaco, Nedlands, and Claremont – to share experience and activities.
“I hope that the Church learns to bring the Kingdom of God alive through loving communities rather that structures and rules. As Archbishop Costelloe says: Bring Christ to the Church, and bring the Church to Christ,” Mr Stack stated.
“The Holy Trinity is the complete giver of existence who loves me so much that I am God’s hands when I do good [that is, complete God’s plan for me] and also when I do evil [thwarting that plan], such is God’s love.
“Scripture is a rich, many layered guide to knowing and inhabiting God’s creative plan for me, the creature,” he concluded.
The open Listening and Dialogue stage of the Plenary Council runs until Ash Wednesday 2019, but facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins said that will not mark the end of the engagement with the community.
Submissions can be made online at the Plenary Council 2020 website: www.plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au/resources/have-your-say
From pages 32 to 33 of Issue 16: ‘Celebrating Women’ of The Record Magazine