Welcome to PlenaryPost

Observant readers of PlenaryPost will notice that today’s edition has come out on a Wednesday, not a Tuesday. That’s because today is one of the highlights of the Catholic year, as we stop and commemorate the life and legacy of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop. Mary MacKillop was a person who recognised the need for her and her Sisters to be adaptable to their circumstances.

Indeed, one of Mary’s most quoted sayings is “Never see a need without doing something about it.” The Catholic Church in Australia saw a need – a renewal and revitalisation of the Church – and the Plenary Council is one way for people to “do something about it”.

The task before the faithful is one to which all are called and the remaining months until Ash Wednesday next year provide everyone a chance to consider the question: “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?"

A more collegial and collaborative Church was one of the hopes of the Second Vatican Council, held from 1962-65. In this video, Bishop Robert Barron discusses “The Meaning of Vatican II”, offering insights into how the Catholic Church in Australia can enter into the Plenary Council process.

Mary MacKillop and God's mission

by Lana Turvey-Collins

Today we celebrate the feast day of St Mary MacKillop, a woman of courageous leadership and deep love for the people of her country, Australia. I grew up hearing stories of Mary MacKillop my whole life from both my mum and my teachers at the Josephite school I attended. 

She was always someone I feel like I have known, and I am inspired by her in all sorts of ways. One thing I always knew was that she lived the way she did because she followed Jesus. She believed in a God who loves every person and especially those who are most vulnerable in our community.  

I am blessed to know many strong and courageous women who live in the spirit of Mary MacKillop and lead in our Church, ministries and community today – some of the incredible Sisters of St Joseph who educated me, who are my mentors and friends, also some women who are a part of the ministries of Mary MacKillop today. Each one has shaped who I am, shown me how to live a life for God’s mission and challenged me when I needed it. I am deeply grateful for each of them.

The Plenary Council provides an opportunity for all people everywhere to be involved in helping to ensure our Church is the best it can be, for God’s mission. We are called to continue doing what we can to build the Kingdom of God that Jesus spoke about. This mission needs the best that is in each one of us when we give permission for God to work through us.

May we ensure that we follow Mary’s example and respond with open hearts. She reminds us: “Never see a need without doing something about it.” This process needs every person to be involved as we discover the future God has for us.


We will address a new question in each newsletter. To catch up on previous editions, you can check out the Plenary Council FAQ page. If you have a question, email it to us and we will include it in future editions of PlenaryPost.

The question for today is…

Who is on the Plenary Council Executive Committee? 

The Executive Committee draws people from across the Catholic Church in Australia to support and advise the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council, as well as the Facilitation Team. The committee includes lay people, religious and priests, people from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds and people of different ages.

Click here to learn more about the committee members.


Plenary Council calls us to be prophetic

by Teresa Brierley, Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries, Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

I think the invitation to participate in the Australian Plenary Council of 2020 is inviting us to have the courage to take part while carrying our wounds, pain, grief, despair and loss. When we are weak, we are strong. 

God is calling us, like Ezekiel, to be prophetic, to hear the voice of the Spirit and to respond with humility, patience, hope, faith and love. It is a response from the heart that is being sought to the question: What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?

This question invites us into contemplation, deep listening and prayer. 

Click here to read Teresa’s full article from the Maitland-Newcastle website.


ABC checks in on Plenary Council

The mainstream media is becoming more interested in the Plenary Council and its unique status in the history of the Catholic Church in Australia. The first Plenary Council in more than 80 years, it is the highest form of gathering in the Church.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and Professor Massimo Faggioli, a Church historian based at Villanova University in the United States, spoke with ABC’s Noel Debien about the Plenary Council.

Listen to the interview here.

Geraldton gives Plenary Council a boost

The Diocese of Geraldton in Western Australia reflected on key questions that will help shape the Church locally but also helped frame its involvement with the Plenary Council at its recent diocesan conference.

The conference, which drew its theme “Lamp for the Steps and Light for the Way: Listen to God and each other as we light the way forward” from Psalm 118, considered three questions: Where do you see signs of hope in our community?; Where can we “be more” for our community? What resources and support can we draw upon to “be more”?

Leaders from across many parts of the diocese – geographically and in terms of ministry – took part in the conference, as well as students and staff from the Nagle Catholic College community.

Click here to read more on the Geraldton conference.

BBI-TAITE eConference is now online

As mentioned in the last edition of PlenaryPost, BBI-The Australian Institute of Theological Education’s 2018 eConference this month focused on the Plenary Council process and specifically the concept of “synodality”.

The eConference, with the theme “Synodality in Practice: Listening to the Spirit and Leading Change”, features Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australian Catholic University's Gemma Cruz and US-based theologians Professor Massimo Faggioli and Professor Richard Lennan.

The conference can now be viewed online for free for the next two weeks. Click here to access the conference material, including details for hosting a viewing with others.

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