Plenary Council

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 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 Second Assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia

The Second Assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia takes place from 39 July 2022. Masses and sessions will be live-streamed each day (above) and people are invited to send messages of prayer, hope and support to the members gathering in Sydney. Check in with this page for further information, news, and local resources as they are released. Find the live streaming schedule and the portal for sending messages at ACBC Plenary Council website:


Plenary Council news

First General Assembly

From Sunday 3 October to Sunday 10 October 2021, the first General Assembly of the fifth Plenary Council of Australia was held online throughout the country—280 members undertook a process of dialogue focusing on six themes that were developed from the responses of over 220,000 people.

There were six Plenary Council members representing the Diocese of Wollongong: Bishop Brian Mascord, Fr Bernard Gordon, Fr Sean Cullen, Paul Fleming, Erin Gillard and Dr Jodi Steel. You can watch interviews with the three lay members of Plenary Council from the diocese that were recorded in the lead up to the first General Assembly.

interviews with our council members

Key moments of the first General Assembly

Key moments during the first General Assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia were livestreamed and broadcast daily, including: daily Masses, morning prayer for Plenary Council members, and sharing of the fruits of discernment sessions.

You can watch all the plenary council livestreams and broadcasts below.

Diocese of Wollongong Mass during the first General Assembly

Our own diocese was on the national stage at 9:30am on Friday 8 October when Bishop Brian will celebrate Mass from St John Vianney Co-Cathedral in Fairy Meadow for the Church of Australia. You can watch the Mass below:

The Diocese of Wollongong’s Journey Podcast and Radio team, in collaboration with Australian Catholic Bishops Conference produced a daily podcast with interviews from the first General Assembly. You can listen to them at the following link:

Listen on the webListen on SpotifyListen on Apple Podcasts

Local resources

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.

Download Bishop Brian Mascord’s Plenary Council pastoral letter.

Support kit

The diocese has produced a support kit with general information as well as specific information to assist communities in selecting their local animator. The support kit is based upon the text and concept of the Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay (original author: Daniel Ang, Office for Evangelisation. © Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay 2018).

Download the Plenary Council support kit.

“The Power of the Spirit” diocesan song

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”.

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)

Download “The Power of the Spirit” song pack

A parishioner has created a visual presentation of the song with sheet music for communities to use on their presentation screens: