The last time the Catholic Church in Australia held a Plenary Council was in 1937. It has been more than 80 years since we gathered all of the Church together and much has changed. In 2020, we will have a Plenary Council about the future of the Catholic Church in Australia. What are we called to do? Who are we called to be? How do we need to change?
Pope Francis has spoken of the need to engage in the world and respond in faith. He said:
“The defining aspect of this change of epoch is that things are no longer in their place. Our previous ways of explaining the world and relationships, good and bad, no longer appears to work. The way in which we locate ourselves in history has changed. Things we thought would never happen, or that we never thought we would see, we are experiencing now, and we dare not even imagine the future. That which appeared normal to us – family, the Church, society and the world—will probably no longer seem that way. We cannot simply wait for what we are experiencing to pass, under the illusion that things will return to being how they were before.”
The journey toward the Plenary Council will help us to prepare to listen to God by listening to one another. We invite all people to engage, to be a part of the listening and dialogue encounter in the next two years.
For more general information about the Plenary Council, visit the national Plenary Council 2020 website and take time to watch the videos and read about the plenary council process, theology and history. Also, listen to the prayer resources to help tune our hearts to “listen to what the Spirit is saying” (Revelations 2:7).
The diocesan Office for Renewal and Evangelisation has produced some local resources for parishes, schools and other communities to help them engage in the process. Additional resources will be created during the process and made available on this page. See below for resources already released.
Bishop’s pastoral letter
On Thursday 26 July 2018, Bishop Brian Mascord issued a pastoral letter outlining the process and timeline for the diocese’s engagement with the Plenary Council.
In preparation for the Plenary Council—and suitable for Easter Season, Ascension, Pentecost and Confirmation—diocesan liturgy coordinator and composer, Mr Paul Mason, has written a diocesan song for the Plenary Council titled, “The Power of the Spirit”.
You can download the song (including music and sheet music) for free at the diocesan online shop. The pack includes:
The Power of the Spirit (O Come, Holy Spirit, Come!) Complete (MP3)
The Power of the Spirit (O Come, Holy Spirit, Come!) Entrance version (MP3)
The Power of the Spirit (O Come, Holy Spirit, Come!) Final version (MP3)
The Power of the Spirit (O Come, Holy Spirit, Come!) Sheet Music (PDF)
Our diocesan logo is theologically rich and very succinct. As a hand, it depicts our mission as a diocese and as individuals within the diocese, of bearing (bringing, carrying) Christ’s love to one another and to the world around us. In this, we are the hand of Jesus Christ, and we are offering ourselves to him so that he might work through us.
We can be the bearers of his love only as a response to his call and in the strength of his grace. We are reminded of this in two ways—through the symbol of the dove (the Holy Spirit) also present in the logo, and by the incorporation of the cross that segments the logo. The presence of the cross is a reminder that bearing the love of Christ will inevitably cost us if we live it authentically. However, in the way that the Cross is the portent of redemption and life—an echo of the tree of life in the book of Genesis—so becoming bearers of the love of Christ will also bring us to life.
The four fingers of the hand also represent the four regions of our diocese. The first is bluerepresenting the beautiful water of the Shoalhaven. The second is a blue and green combination representing the waters and escarpment of the Illawarra. The third is greendepicting the hills and plains of the Macarthur. The fourth is dark green illustrating the forests of the Southern Highlands.