Plenary reflections #4: Brigid Cooney
After a week of online sessions and live-streamed Masses, Archbishop Costelloe, the Council’s president, adjourned the Council’s first assembly and summoned its 278 members to gather again in July 2022 for the second and final assembly.
To gain insight from a local level, the Catholic Voice asked each Archdiocesan member to summarize their reactions to the first assembly and to reflect on their hopes as the Australian Church moves forward in the Plenary process.
The Plenary Council was a powerful experience of prayer, community, and discernment. The week-long journey of the First Assembly invited members to encounter the Holy Spirit and each other with openness through our Spiritual Conversations in small groups.
This discipline fostered authentic listening between members so that we could truly hear what each other had experienced in prayer and draw together the threads being woven by the Holy Spirit throughout our conversations.
It was inspiring to see that themes being discussed in my small group were echoed by other groups during the morning Plenaries. To me, this showed that the Holy Spirit has really been at work in our Church during this time.
I was honoured to be working with, praying with, and listening to, Catholics from all over Australia during the First Assembly. Each of their stories showed me that there are so many ways to live our Catholic faith. For me, the Plenary Council is an act of hope.
As we move forward, this hope will be embodied by motions and actions that will bring us back to the heart of our mission – that all people know they are loved by God and are invited to live that in the community of the Catholic Church..
- Brigid Cooney, 23, is one of two lay members to the Plenary Council representing the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. Her home parish is Our Lady of the Annunciation, Weston Creek.
I’m interested to know what actually happened at the Plenary Council. I presume there will be a report on the matters set for discussion and discernment. Did they reflect a sound knowledge of Church doctrine and tradition, including cultural (mainly as regards sacred music) tradition and liturgy? I feel that the level of Catholic education available to students over recent generations may not always have produced well-informed school leavers.
Thanks Brigid. Sounds like it was an important and valuable experience for you at the Plenary Council! I was particularly struck by your last comment – ‘that all people know they are loved by God and are invited to live that in the community of the Catholic Church’. A lovely reminder that God does not set hoops for us to jump through or thresholds for us to reach before we are ‘acceptable’ . We are loved and welcomed as we are. It is also great to remember that people are ‘invited’ into the Church, not ordered or shamed into joining our community. I hope you find the next months and the final assembly equalling uplifting and encouraging!