Parishes engaging with the plenary
With the release of ‘Continuing the Journey – The Working Document’’, the fifth Plenary Council of the Australian Catholic Church continues to gain momentum, be it cautiously, with COVID sensitivities.
The document is the result of more than two years listening and discerning by over 200,000 Australian Catholics and members of the wider community. It has been a momentous task attempting to capture the voices of those who contributed to the six thematic discussion papers, and then to massage those discussions into a manageable text for the next phase of discernment by local churches.
This phase is part of the process where we attempt to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Australian Catholic Church in these days. We are asking “what is of the Holy Spirit” and “what is not of the Holy Spirit”.
We are asking for God’s wisdom, blessing and grace unifying and guiding us into a hope-filled future, particularly as we manage the current pandemic.
There are two sessions planned for the Plenary Council forums. The Bishops are organising the first session in October to take place in regional hubs with designated inter-diocesan delegates. The management of these hubs is still in progress.
The second session planned for April 2022, will take place in Sydney at this stage.
It is hoped that liturgical resources to support parishes will be released by Pentecost this year.
What can parishes do to re-engage in the ongoing Plenary discernment process? Here are some suggestions:
Firstly, re-invigorate our prayerful support of the Plenary process.
Secondly, read ‘Continuing the Journey: Working Document (Instrumentum Laboris)’ at the Plenary website: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thirdly, use the reflection guide that accompanies this document. Individually or in small groups, apply the guide a chapter at a time, perhaps one a month starting after Easter.
Fourth, revisit the original six thematic papers and use them as a reference resource.
Fifth, read the discernment modules from the Plenary website.
Sixth, 13-20 minute podcast conversations by major players who formulated the Working Document are available. Download them from your usual podcast platform and search for the “Instrumentum Laboris”. Alternatively, go to Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/
Thanks for this timely reminder about the ongoing steps towards the Plenary Council and the invitation for parishes to be involved. I must admit that after an initial enthusiasm and time commitment, I have felt my motivation and energy seeping away. I’m not sure why: maybe the length of time it is all taking? maybe the plethora of other significant issues that I need to attend to in my own life? maybe a lack of consistency in enthusiasm and engagement within my own faith communities? maybe it all just seems so removed from current parish life? maybe a sense that there is a smallish group of people for whom the Plenary Council is front and centre, and they will influence the outcome, which will be very meaningful for them, but less relevant for those of us holding on with trembling fingers to our sense of being church? I will keep reading the documents, and hope for a miracle!