Adelaide Archbishop Patrick O’Regan has reiterated the importance of the forthcoming Diocesan Assembly in shaping the Adelaide Archdiocese’s contribution and response to the historic Plenary Council.
More than 450 people from parishes, communities, schools, agencies, religious orders and groups will participate in the local assembly, to be held over three sessions from September 17.
Archbishop O’Regan said the sessions would provide an opportunity for Adelaide’s eight Plenary Council members to hear the voices of the local community.
“They will not going to the Plenary as one person, but as representatives of the Adelaide Archdiocese,” he said.
“The other aspect of the Assembly is the formation of a Diocesan Pastoral Council which will be responsible for implementing the vision of the Plenary Council when it concludes next year.”
More than 1300 responses were submitted as part of the consultation process and will help form the broad discussion themes for the assembly agenda.
Diocesan Assembly coordinator Peter Bierer said the responses were evenly distributed among age groups.
Themes included: faith formation opportunities; outreach to young people, children and families; lay leadership, especially women’s leadership possibilities; becoming welcoming and inclusive communities; cultural and multicultural communities; clergy; governance; parish life; Diocesan services; communication and technology; adapting to a changing world; liturgy, prayer and spirituality; responding to victims of abuse; addressing social issues; social justice and action.
“From here, we will analyse the responses along with the Plenary Council responses from Adelaide,” Mr Bierer said.
“Then we will develop broad discussion themes for the Diocesan Assembly that will address our local community and reflect into the national agenda for the Plenary Council.”
The Diocesan Assembly will be hosted by Cabra Dominican College on Friday September 17 (evening) and Saturday September 18, with a closing session on Thursday September 23 at the Capri Theatre, Goodwood.
Mr Bierer said the Assembly would model prayer and discernment as the primary way of entering into decision-making discussions.
“This is an important step on the way toward developing a new Diocesan Pastoral Council whose work will involve
the implementation of Diocesan Assembly recommendations as well as the directives that come from the Plenary Council,” he said.
“As Archbishop Pat describes it, this is an opportunity to sit down as a family, to talk about what matters to us, and plan for the future.
“While not everyone in the Archdiocese will be present at Cabra for the discussions, we can all be praying and talking together about these things, listening for God’s voice as we plan for the work ahead.”
The director of Centacare Catholic Family Services Pauline Connelly and the director of Catholic Education SA Neil McGoran will co-host the Diocesan Assembly.
Having taken on similar roles at the 2016 Archdiocesan Spring Gathering, Dr McGoran and Ms Connelly said there was an element of “building upon what’s gone on before” but also an “air of excitement” in the lead up to the historic Plenary Council in October.
“The Diocesan Assembly is being held while there is a whole national conversation taking place about the future of the Church,” Dr McGoran said.
“It will draw out some of the major issues for the Adelaide Archdiocese as well as be an opportunity to send forth our local representatives to the Plenary Council.”
Ms Connelly, who was appointed Director of Centacare last month, said it was important to honour the “great hope” that was evident at the Spring Gathering.
“We also can’t underestimate the fact that it’s happening at a time when we are in a very different world to five years ago; we are operating in a different space at a human level due to the pandemic,” she said.
“When you think of the bushfires, the floods, what’s happening now in Afghanistan, there is hope and encouragement in us coming together as one with an unchangeable Christ in a world that is continuing to change.”