Plenary council ‘re-imagines the church through a missionary lens’
July 11, 2022
Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has encouraged Council Members to continue relying upon the Holy Spirit as they move into the future.
Archbishop Costelloe was the principal celebrant and homilist at the closing Mass of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia celebrated in St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday morning.
Citing the words of St John the Baptist, he urged the Members to take to heart that “He – Jesus – must grow greater, and I must grow smaller”.
As Members look towards the “re-enlivening” of the Church, Archbishop Costelloe said they must remember: “There will be no renewal of the Church if we put ourselves above Christ or in some perverse way push him to the margins.”
The experience of the early Church at Pentecost is one that needs to be taken up by the Church each day, he said.
“The enlivening of the infant Church, gathered in prayer in the upper room, was not a ‘once-only’ event. It is the daily reality of the Church and the enduring foundation of the Church’s identity.”
The Plenary Council was a new experience in many ways, Archbishop Costelloe said, lived in a “tentative and incomplete fashion” as they tried to “reimagine the Church in Australia through a missionary lens”.
“We have tried, and at times struggled, and perhaps occasionally failed, to listen carefully to each other,” he said.
“The Lord never promised that discipleship would be without its challenges.”
Nevertheless, “We have made some decisions, opened up some possibilities, and experienced the depth and complexity of some of the challenges we face.”
Much work remains to be done, he said, and the question that must remain with each of the Members as they return home is: What was, and is, the Holy Spirit saying?
Finally, Archbishop Costelloe encouraged Members to believe that what the Archangel Gabriel said to the Blessed Virgin Mary is true for them today: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow.”
During the Mass, Members of the Plenary Council delivered Prayers of the Faithful in many different languages, reflecting the diversity and unity of the Church in Australia that has been so much of a focus in their discernment this week.
Find out more about the Plenary Council and follow the second assembly at:
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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.