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Advisers, Chairpersons named for Plenary Council

September 16, 2021

Some of the country’s leading Catholic thinkers have been engaged to support the members of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia when they gather for the first general assembly early next month. 

As happens with international gatherings, including at the Second Vatican Council, participants are able to seek guidance from a group of advisers. Their expertise covers a broad range of disciplines, including theology, philosophy, ethics, ecclesiology, education, liturgy, governance and social justice. 

Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said while there are experts across many fields within the approximately 280 members, the additional advisers – sometimes known by the Latin term periti – will be there to nourish and deepen the existing knowledge base in a special way. 

“The members of the Plenary Council are responsible for discerning concrete proposals in answer to 16 questions for the Church in Australia, so having as much support on call as possible makes sense,” he said. 

Archbishop Costelloe said there will be a diversity of skills and experience, as well as ministerial and working contexts, represented among the advisers. 

“We are grateful to those women and men who have responded so generously, have seen the importance of this moment in the life of the Church and agreed to serve in this critical role,” he said. 

The list of advisers can be found on the Plenary Council website. 

The chairpersons to guide the work of the Plenary Council and facilitate members’ conversations when they gather as a full group have also been confirmed. In accordance with the Plenary Council’s Statutes and Regulatory Norms, the chairpersons are chosen from among the members and appointed for the duration of the celebration of the Plenary Council.   

The chairpersons are: Hon. Jacinta Collins, Executive Director, National Catholic Education Commission; Ms Nichii Mardon, Director, Catholic Education South Australia, Diocese of Port Pirie; Rev Thomas McDonough CP, Provincial Superior of the Passionists; Br Paul O’Keefe FSP, Provincial Leader of Patrician Brothers; Very Rev David Ranson, Vicar General Broken Bay Diocese; Mrs Theresa Simon, Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Australia.  

Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins said the chairpersons have been taking part in formation and training workshops to collaboratively navigate the challenges inherent in chairing a gathering of 280 people and ensure the best possible experience for all.  

“Each chairperson will lead a plenary session once during the first general assembly,” Ms Turvey-Collins said.  

“They also form part of the Plenary Council Steering Committee, so will have an ongoing role in shaping the agenda and program in response to the daily discernment and dialogue of the members. It is exciting to see these groups of committed, skilled and faith-filled people coming together.”  

The first assembly of the Plenary Council commences with the Opening Mass on October 3, with members starting to address the agenda the following day. 

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