PLENARY COUNCIL: Discernment captures perfectly the task

06 Aug 2020

By Eric Leslie Martin

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, president of the Plenary Council, addressed the gathering with words of encouragement and a reminder of just how important this process is to the future of the Church in Australia. Photo: Matthew Lau.

By Eric Martin

Perth delegates come together for the first time

The key to what we can do and must do to contribute to the rebuilding and renewing the Church lies in a careful consideration of what fidelity to the Lord and the Lord’s will for the Church look like.

These were the words of Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB who this week addressed the Archdiocese of Perth’s Plenary Council Delegates – those that must be called and those that have been called.

The first official gathering of Perth’s Plenary Council delegates took places on Tuesday 4 August at St Mary’s Cathedral, providing the opportunity for a time of communion, preparation and instruction.

Perth’s Plenary 2020 delegates gathered in the St Mary’s Cathedral undercroft on Tuesday 4 August to begin group preparation for attending the first session in October 2021. Photo: Matthew Lau.

The Plenary 2020 delegates – those that must be called and those that have been called –  who will represent the Archdiocese of Perth at the two Assemblies, the first one being scheduled for 3 to 10 October 2021 and the second on 4 to 9 July 2022) of the fifth Plenary Council of Australia on August are:

  • Most Rev Timothy Costelloe SDB DD, Archbishop of Perth;
  • Most Rev Donald Sproxton DD, Auxiliary Bishop of Perth;
  • Very Rev Peter Whitely VG, Vicar General;
  • Very Rev Brian McKenna EV, Vicar for Clergy;
  • Very Rev Vincent Glynn EV, Episcopal Vicar for Education and Faith Formation;
  • Rev Fr Phillip Fleay, St Charles’ Seminary Rector;
  • Rev Fr Michael Moore SM, Redemptoris Mater Seminary Rector;
  • Professor Francis Campbell, Vice-Chancellor of Notre Dame University;
  • Dr Marco Ceccarelli, Centre for Faith Enrichment Director;
  • Ms Emily Hardbottle; UNDA nursing student;
  • Dr Angela McCarthy, UNDA senior lecturer in theology; and
  • Mr Damian Walsh, The Shopfront Director.

The occasion was also an opportunity for Archbishop Costelloe to launch a new paper titled, A Journey of Discernment, which will be published in the coming weeks.

“The word ‘discernment’ captures perfectly the task in which we are engaged and to which we are called to continue to commit ourselves,” Archbishop Costelloe explained.

Delegate and Rector of Redemptoris Mater Seminary Fr Michael Moore SM shares his aspirations for the upcoming Plenary with the group. Photo: Matthew Lau.

Archbishop Costelloe continued by saying that the “end” process of the Plenary Council will be what unfolds in each diocese and in each local Catholic community, as the fruits of the Council take root and flourish.

“I just hope and dream of a local church that is faithful to what Jesus wants of his Church.

“Personally, I think that if we, as a Church, come out on the other side of the Plenary Council and we haven’t grown our faith [as a Church] then I think the Plenary would have been a waste of time,” he shared.

Tony Giglia, Catholic Archdiocese of Perth coordinator for the Plenary Council 2020, facilitated the first meeting of Perth Plenary delegates on Tuesday 4 August. Photo: Matthew Lau.

Archbishop Tim explained that personally, as a theologian, he has come to the clear understanding that in order to remain faithful to the voice of the Holy Spirit when discerning God’s desires for the Church, there are three main elements that need to be kept at the forefront of any considerations:

  • God’s self-revelation in Jesus (his life, passion, death, resurrection, ascension and sending of the Spirit) – the Scriptures and their instruction for how to live a life that is pleasing to God;
  • The Spirit-guided journey of the Church in history – the Magisterium of the Church, the traditions that keep alive the many wonderful things that God has done historically through his people; and
  • The enlivening presence of the Spirit in the Church and the wider world today – the signs of the times that we are called to interpret in order to be relevant and relatable, without being “of the world”.

“We have to be so careful during this process that we do not simply listen to the loudest voice or the greatest number of voices, but rather, that in the midst of this, we seek to hear the quiet voice of the Lord,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“This is not a political process and we need to remember that.”

Delegates will be commissioned during a special Mass at 11am on Sunday 4 October at St Mary’s Cathedral.