SPECIAL REPORT: Pope Francis backs decision to hold Plenary Council; Archbishop Costelloe announced as the President of Plenary Council

22 Mar 2018

By The Record

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe features in a video on the new Plenary Council website. Image: Sourced.

Pope Francis has officially given his blessing for the Church in Australia to hold the first Plenary Council in 2020.

The most significant national gathering that can be held, the Plenary Council will be the first in Australia in more than 80 years.

In approving the 2020 Plenary Council, Pope Francis also endorsed the bishops’ nomination of Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB as the President of the Plenary Council.

Archbishop Costelloe said he holds great hope that the Council will bring about a period of authentic renewal.

“This is a significant moment for the Catholic Church in Australia and I look forward to walking with the people of God as we look towards the future,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“I am honoured by the appointment as President of the Plenary Council and am committed to listening to the Spirit.”

“I encourage all Catholics, whether devout or disillusioned, fervent or frustrated, to seize this opportunity to speak what is on their minds and in their hearts,” he said.

Plenary Council facilitator, Lana Turvey-Collins, said she is inspired by the many faith-filled people across the country who have shared their hopes for the Church with her during a series of planning meetings.

“People are both curious and passionate about how all people – particularly people who are marginalised, vulnerable or distant from the Church – can be part of preparing for the Plenary Council,” she said.

“The process of listening and dialogue, beginning at Pentecost 2018, will help form the agenda for the Plenary Council. It’s a chance for us all to learn to become a truly listening Church. All people are invited to share their story of faith, of life and of their experience of the Church.”

A new website for the Plenary Council was also launched this week, with the aim helping people better understand how they can participate in the process.

“Signing up to the e-newsletter and the Plenary Council social media channels is the best way to stay up-to-date with local and national activity for Plenary Council,” Mrs Turvey-Collins said.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council Chair, said Australian Bishops are deeply grateful to Pope Francis for affirming the decision.

“We ask all people to join in prayer as we embark on this journey together as God’s people in Australia,” he said.

“The Council will be a unique opportunity for people to come together and listen to God in all the ways God speaks to us, and in particular by listening to one another as together we discern what God is asking of us at this time – a time when the Church in Australia is facing significant challenges.

“We sincerely hope the preparation and celebration of the Plenary Council is a time when all parts of the Church listen to and dialogue with one another as we explore together how we might answer the question: ‘What do you think God is asking of us in Australia?’.”

Click Here to watch Plenary Council President Archbisop Tim Costelloe SDB speaking about Pope Francis’s approval of the Council

Visit the Plenary Council website at www.plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au


Catholic Education Western Australia’s (CEWA) own Director, Religious Education Dr Debra Sayce was named as a member of the Executive Committee in July 2017  Photo: Supplied.

Catholic Education Western Australia’s (CEWA) own Acting Executive Director Dr Debra Sayce was named as a member of the Executive Committee in July 2017 to ensure the successful preparation, celebration and implementation of the 2020 Plenary Council.

Speaking to The eRecord at the time of the announcement, Dr Sayce said it has been her grassroots experiences at her parish of East Victoria Park, participation on various committees that support the work of the Church locally and nationally in the areas of education, clergy and disability, through to her role as Director, Religious Education at CEWA that have presented her with a depth and breadth of the Church.

“I would say my learning, formational experiences and diverse relationships forged in these committees have certainly shaped me as a Catholic woman,” Dr Sayce said.

With more than 32 years’ experience in education, Dr Sayce said she is looking forward to learning so much more about the Australian Catholic Church and to contributing a Catholic educator’s perspective to the Commission.

Other members of the Executive Committee include Mr Daniel Ang from Broken Bay, Mr Shayne Bennett from Brisbane, Br Ian Cribb SJ from Broken Bay, Dr Gemma Cruz from Melbourne, Sr Moya Hanlen FDNSC from Sydney, Ms Sally Hood from Brisbane, Mr John Lochowiak from Adelaide, Dr Brigid McKenna from Hobart, Ms Sarah Moffatt from Adelaide

Sr Grace Roclawska CSFN from Parramatta, Rev Dr Ormond Rush from Townsville, Mrs Theresa Simon from Sydney (Maronite Church) and Dr Nigel Zimmerman from Parramatta.