The National Themes
for Discernment have
In 2020, we will have a Plenary Council about the future of the Catholic Church in Australia. It has been 80 years since this last took place. This is a wonderful opportunity to engage people in conversations about God and the Church.
Around Australia people are being invited to engage in reflective discernment and discussion about God and the future of the Church in Australia. There are a number of facilitator and discussion guides available to download and use locally.
We are grateful to the parishes, groups and individuals around the Archdiocese who have already begun the Plenary process. Let’s keep the dialogue going. If you need assistance in hosting a listening and dialogue session, contact us at the Archbishop's Office for Evangelisation.
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Saturday 10 August, 10.00am - 12.30pm
Cardinal Knox Centre, 383 Victoria Pde, East Melbourne (enter via Lansdowne St)
As we enter this next phase of Plenary preparations, all parish Plenary coordinators and facilitators are invited to gather for a session exploring the practice of communal discernment. Discernment on the national themes will be key to informing and shaping the agenda for the Plenary Council meetings in 2020 and 2021.
Fr Kevin Lenehan
will, in the first half of the session, reflect on the age-old practice of discernment—from its patristic origins to how it informed the work of the Second Vatican Council and continues to do as Pope Francis encourages a theology of encounter, accompaniment and dialogue. In the second half of the morning,
will give an update on national preparations as well as the resources being offered for this second phase of listening and discernment.
Click here to register for this session
For any enquiries please contact Suzanne Hermon at the Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation on 9926 5761 or
The themes for discernment have been released. What happens now?
More than 222,000 people participated in listening and dialogue encounters and contributed 17,457 submissions during the first stage of preparation for the Australian Plenary Council. The voices of the faithful help all of us to understand something of the historical experience and the current reality of the Catholic Church in Australia. This gathered data also reveals some deeper hopes and questions, and the diverse yearnings, that we are now challenged to consider together. The six National Themes for Discernment are inspired by the data and call us toward the future.
As we move into this second stage of preparation for the Plenary Council, we continue to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
What is Discernment?
The next step towards the Plenary Council is the listening and discernment phase, where the country is asked to delve deeper into what has been said during the earlier listening and dialogue phase. In this short video, Br Ian Cribb SJ, Sr Grace Roclawska CSFN and Fr Ormond Rush offer some general principles around the idea of Christian discernment:
What is Christian discernment? What are its origins? And how does discernment differ from decision-making?
Need-to-know Facilitation Skills
Key to the listening and dialogue conversations is the role of the Facilitator, who guides the process and ensures everyone has their say.
of CatholicCare Melbourne discusses important aspects of the Facilitator's role -- offering tips that will help encourage open, honest sharing. Rhyannon stresses that the Facilitator's role includes three things: 1) Engaging the group; 2) Managing the group, and; 3) Knowing how to close the group.
Inviting families into the Plenary conversation
Matthew MacDonald is the Director of the Life, Marriage and Family Office in the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. In this video, he reflects on the exciting opportunity to enter into dialogue with others about the future of the Catholic Church in Australia. Matthew also discusses the timeliness of this invitation, and how it might enable the Church to find new ways to support young people and families in these changing times.
Archbishop Peter Comensoli on Listening and Discernment
As Archbishop Peter A Comensoli describes in this video, the invitation to participate in this Plenary process is something many of us are already familiar with -- especially in our family relationships where listening is so essential. He also talks about discernment as an invitation to look more and more like Jesus -- in whose image we are made. He asks, "What does God want us to look like? How might we flourish in looking more and more like the image that God has made us in?"
Fr Kevin Lenehan reflects on spiritual discernment in leadership
Rev. Dr Kevin Lenehan is Associate Dean (Post-Graduate and Research) at the Catholic Theological College in Melbourne. Here he discusses some of the challenges of exercising Christian Leadership in a pluralistic society like Australia, and how we need to "learn again the skills of spiritual discernment within our faith tradition." A timely message as we venture through this listening and dialogue phase of the Plenary Council 2020.
Cathy Jenkins, Coordinator for Melbourne's participation in the Plenary Council 2020
The last time the Catholic Church in Australia held a Plenary Council was more than eighty years ago -- much has changed since! Cathy Jenkins, Director of the Archbishop's office for Evangelisation and Coordinator for Melbourne's participation in the Plenary Council 2020, reflects on the significance of this national invitation to listening and dialogue:
The Art of Listening: In prayer and to each other
The first phase of the Plenary Council 2020 is the
Listening and Dialogue
phase. In this video, Michelle and Trevor D'Souza, parishioners of St Mary's Greensborough, reflect on the art of good listening -- in their own prayer lives and in their marriage of 25 years.
Fr Dishan Candappa responds to Plenary2020
"What do you think God is asking of us at this time in Australia?"
That is the question being asked around the country in preparation for the Plenary Council 2020. Here, Fr Dishan Candappa, Parish Priest of Gladstone Park provides his reflections...
Parish Priest Fr Hien Vu
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, President of the Plenary Council, is inviting people around the country to embark on this important time of listening and prayer. Parish Priest Fr Hien Vu has translated Archbishop Costelloe's message for the Vietnamese community here in Melbourne:
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