Perth responds to the First Phase of the Plenary Council
By Amanda Murthy
For the next year, the Australian Catholic community will play a huge part in contributing their thoughts and suggestions through a process of discernment to consider its’ future, as they approach the 2020 Plenary Council (PC).
This journey for Perth began officially on Saturday 26 May 2018 – on the Feast of the Holy Trinity – at a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, one week after the official national launch on Pentecost Sunday, 20 May.
With more than 500 representatives from parishes, agencies, groups and lay faithful present, Archbishop Costelloe spoke about the Plenary Council process, noting that over the next 12 months there will be opportunities for all who care about the Church, to share their hopes and dreams together.
“It is this sharing of hopes and dreams, based on our prayerful listening to the voice of God’s Spirit speaking in our lives and in our hearts, which will guide the bishops as they seek to be the humble servants and shepherds of God’s Church,” he said.
The celebration of the Holy Trinity, said Archbishop Costelloe, is an especially appropriate time to launch this major event here in our Archdiocese because it is in this feast that we discover the very heart of our faith.
“Believing what we do about Jesus as the Son of God, we know that Jesus in his humanity unveils the hidden mystery of God to us in a way that we can at least to some extent understand,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
At the commencement of the Mass, Archbishop Costelloe blessed and lit the Plenary Council candle, recognising the call to the urgent, challenging but Spirit-led task of trying to discern exactly what God, at this moment in our history, is asking of us.
“In a very real sense today’s feast already provides us with the answer,” Archbishop Costelloe explained.
“God is asking us, as His Church, to become in practice what we are in our deepest and truest identity: a living, powerful, unmistakable and convincing sign and bearer of God’s love made known to us in Jesus,” he said.
Smaller versions of the candle were also blessed by Archbishop Costelloe and received by the representatives, with the encouragement to conduct their own Plenary Council launch with their local parish community.
Prior to this official launch, a personalised Listening and Dialogue session was organised for Perth Leaders, giving Plenary Council Facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins an opportunity to meet and explain the purpose of the Plenary Council, its timeline and the questions it was posing.
Archbishop Costelloe has also announced the election of local representatives to help co-ordinate dissemination of the necessary information – Special Projects Co-ordinator Tony Giglia and Centre for Faith Enrichment Director, Dr Marco Ceccarelli.
Director of Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) Dr Debra Sayce was also chosen to represent Western Australia as a Plenary Council Executive Committee member.
Over the following months, Archbishop Costelloe attended various events and celebrated several Masses across Perth, where he met and spoke with clergy, parishioners, teachers and agency directors.
On a Parish level, there were many sessions held throughout the year, with detailed guides on how to run the sessions provided through the PC website. These sessions were organised and run by a group of handpicked 180 local representatives, better known as Animators.
The two PC sessions will take place in Adelaide in October 2020 and in May 2021 at a location to be confirmed.
Australian Catholic Church to be re-energised
By Amanda Murthy
Perth Plenary Co-ordinator Tony Giglia said he is hopeful that the Australian Catholic Church will be re-energised and have a fresh sense of purpose through the 2020 Plenary Council, as it serves the community and continues to make an outstanding contribution to Australia as a nation.
“One of my hopes for the Plenary Council is already coming to fruition – We are having more and more people engaging as never before with the question “What is God asking of us in Australia at this time? – And they are starting to make changes to the issues identified, which is amazing.”
Mr Giglia explained that the National Pastoral Research Office is currently conducting an analysis of the data collected from the submissions that have been made to date, and will discern the major themes that are emerging from the sessions.
“From the results, we can expect to see discussion papers collated by the expert groups available in the second half of this year for further public comments.”
Commending the Perth Church for their support towards the Plenary Council, Mr Giglia cited more than 320 facilitators have been formally trained to assist in the listening and dialogue sessions in their Parishes.
“The Centre for Faith Enrichment have also offered people multiple opportunities to participate in listening and dialogue sessions.
“Our Archdiocesan agencies have also embraced the opportunity to participate and contribute submissions to the Plenary Council, and our Catholic schools have been outstanding in their support and contribution,” he concluded.
Parish community speak up as Animators get to work
By Amanda Murthy
Plenary Council Animators Michael Perrott and Kevin Wringe from Applecross Parish told The Record they have made it their mission for the next two years to encourage the local community to lend their voice and play a role in the upcoming 2020 Plenary Council.
“Many of the group dialogue sessions I have led or attended have been fruitful and have elicited excellent thoughtful responses to date,” Mr Perrott said.
Mr Perrott went on to explain that the majority of animators across Perth attended a training seminar at the Centre for Faith Enrichment, led by Plenary Council Facilitator, Lana Turvey Collins, and Perth Representatives, Tony Giglia and Dr Marco Ceccarelli.
“It was very informative and this is where we were introduced to the Plenary Council website, and a few weeks later we shared this information with our parishioners by playing the video at all Masses to create awareness and encourage everyone to participate in this important process,” Mr Perrott said.
“We organised some 20 gatherings in the Parish for small groups, with between six to 30 people attending per session.
Mr Perrott added that the issues highlighted by the Applecross Parish community was compiled and submitted to the Secretariat of the Plenary Council.
“You can see from our response how relevant and important we all believe this process means to us, and our expectation as to how seriously it will be treated by the bishops for the future of our church in Australia,” concluded Mr Perrott.
From pages 18 to 21 of Issue 17: ‘Plenary 2020: A whole Church entering into mission, dialogue and discernment’ of The Record Magazine