Plenary Council 2020: Your Voice is Needed – Join In!

“Speak boldly and with passion, listen with an open and humble heart. With faith and guided by God’s Holy Spirit, we journey together, toward the future.”

The Plenary Council was established by the Bishops of Australia, in response to the wishes of Pope Francis, to give them the chance to listen to the people, with respect to making appropriate changes to the operation of the Church, within the culture of this country.

The process has 3 questions for discussion.

1) What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?

2) What questions do you have about the future of the Church in Australia that you would like the Plenary Council to consider.

3) Would you like to share your story about your experience of faith or of the church that has shaped you?

All of us (clergy and practising and non-practising laity) are invited to make a response to the Council as to what we believe could be effective changes to the Church in Australia. Have your say – this is a listening process, not a debate, and there are no right or wrong answers – the Spirit is at work in all of us.

The deadline for us to be involved in this way is Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019 – there is no opportunity to contribute after that date.

After that, the 3 people on the pastoral Council Facilitation Team collate the responses and identify the main themes emerging from the responses. These themes then go forward to assist in the drafting of the agenda for the 2 meetings – Adelaide Oct. 2020 and mid 2021.

Object of this statement

  • To assist you to access the large amount of information about the Council.
    • To enable you to send a response to the Council, after following the Council’s process of prayer, discussion and discernment, under the guidance of the Spirit.

Plenary Council website –

  • Go to the website and register if you have not already done so.
    • The site contains a wealth of information eg. The 4 step process.
    • You will receive a fortnightly email from the Council to keep you up to date with progress.
    • The site clearly outlines the process for responding.

How to respond to the Council A) online is preferred B) But for those with little access to computers mail your response to Plenary Council, PO Box 747, North Sydney, N.S.W., 2059.

Responding online:

  • This is a 4 step process – see the questions above and the website.
    • The fourth step of the process is making your response.
    • The response asks a number of questions to enable the Facilitating Committee to collate and categorise the responses.
    • To see what is involved before you do respond, you can start the response and keep hitting “next” until you get to the end.
    • Answering some of the questions in the process is voluntary and if you do not wish to do so, just hit “next” to go to the next question.
    • You have the ability to write up to 500 words in the space provided and later in the process you can write even more if you so wish.
    • Given the available space to respond online you could speak about more than one matter in any response.
    • It could be that, over time, you might respond on the same matter a few times, because as you continue to pray, reflect, discuss and discern over time, your ideas on the matter could change and be refined. You might then like to make an additional response on the same matter.
    • You will have discussed your thoughts with a few others but when you respond you can do so as an individual or the group can delegate one person of the group to make the response on behalf of all. One of the questions allows you to indicate that the response reflects the thoughts of your group of so many people.
    If responding by mail, information will be given in the newsletter later on as to what these additional questions in the response are – you can then include them in your mailed response in you wish to do so.

Examples of how simple it is to form small groups for discussion.

  • Friends doing coffee together
    • The family group
    • Parents waiting to pick up children at school
    • Parish support groups or staff in schools, either at a meeting or in more informal gatherings.
    • You will be able to think of so many other situations.

How to keep up to date, going forward.

  • The Council website and the regular emails from the Council, once you are registered
    • The parish, from time to time, will have a section headed “Plenary Council news”.
    • Each parish newsletter on page 3, top right, the Adult Faith group will often have information there.
    • Work is being done on the AFE website ( ) to meet the need for information and thoughtful articles could appear there from time to time.

After these meetings we will be more informed. We will all know the process and will no doubt form many small groups. We will be able to continue the process ourselves, leading to many responses being made to the Council from both individuals and groups.