Staff Reflect on the Plenary Council

Pope Francis has given his approval for the Catholic Church in Australia to hold its second Plenary Council, the most significant national gathering held in Australia in more than 80 years. A Plenary Council is the highest formal gathering of all local churches in a country. The Council is a unique opportunity for people to come together and listen to God, and together, discern what God is asking of us at this time, a time when the Catholic Church is facing many challenges. 

When the Australian Catholic Bishops announced the decision to hold a Plenary Council, Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge said that “the Church is not the presence in our society it once was. We need to take a measure of that and make decisions accordingly. The culture in which we have to proclaim the Gospel is very different to what it was even 20 or 30 years ago”.

The journey is taking place over several years to give the Catholic community in Australia time to listen, dialogue and discern with one another and guided by the Holy Spirit, about the future, the role, and the relevance of the Catholic Church in Australia.

The first Assembly of the Plenary Council took place via a multi-modal format in October 2021. The Second Assembly will take place in Sydney from 4 to 9 July 2022. 

Sister Breda O’Reilly has been leading a group of staff through four sessions to understand the role of the Plenary Council in shaping the future of the Australian Catholic Church. Each week, the group has been listening to the podcast Plenary Matters, presented by past student and journalist Geraldine Doogue (Class of 1968), accompanied by prayer, discussions and further reading. These rich conversations will also provide staff with further insight into the structures and processes of the Church, which are studied within the Religion & Life course. 

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