The first assembly of the Plenary Council will take place with a combination of online and face-to-face participation as uncertainty remains over restrictions on travel and gatherings. Source: ACBC Media Blog.
The decision to hold the October 2021 assembly in a “multi-modal” format was reached last week based on feedback from a number of groups, including the steering committee for the Council assemblies, the Plenary Council’s facilitation team and risk assessors.
Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said while COVID-19 travel restrictions might be lifted by the time of the first assembly, ongoing social distancing requirements and questions around flight schedules and costs were concerns.
Archbishop Costelloe said the bishops, during their biannual meeting last week, wrestled with the decision before conceding that the move to a multi-modal gathering was the only realistic option.
Under that format, delegates will gather in local groups – diocesan, inter-diocesan or provincial – and participate in some Council sessions within those groups. Other sessions will take place with those groups engaging in conversation, prayer and discernment with other groups around Australia.
Peter Gates, from the Plenary Council’s facilitation team, said while contingency planning for an online assembly began as the pandemic’s second wave in Victoria unfolded, the decision to move to a “multi-modal” gathering means the planning can now proceed with urgency.
“Now we can focus solely on ensuring that the first assembly can honour and carry forward the listening, dialogue and discernment that has already taken place, albeit in ways we couldn’t have imagined a year ago.”
Plenary Council assembly mixes in-person, online format (ACBC Media Blog)