Members conduct their first ‘spiritual conversations’

Sr Lourds Chitra Justin OSM joins the first general assembly with other members based in Perth  (ACBC/Max Hoh)

The first “spiritual conversations” of the Plenary Council covered a broad range of thoughts and topics from Baptism being the place for fundamental conversion to the need for the Church to tend to its past and current failures. Source: ACBC.

Yesterday, a representative of each of the 10 groups of members provided a summary of Monday afternoon’s communal discernment process, known as spiritual conversations.

A common theme emerging from those small group sessions was the importance of listening to and accompanying people, including those on the peripheries and at all levels of the Church.

There was also an emphasis on hearing the voices of “churches” in the plural – noting the rich diversity of liturgy and traditions in the Eastern Rites and migrant communities, many of which have had a long history in Australia.

One group spoke of the differences between rural and metropolitan parishes and another pointed out that the Council agenda needed to address the issue of “ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and cooperation”.

The group exploring Indigenous issues expressed the belief that the Church would be “enlivened” with the full participation of First Nations peoples.

Speaking on behalf of her small group, Selina Hasham said that being a Church on a “mission of contrition” might be shameful and humbling, but it could be a source of new life.

During a discussion on clericalism, one group asked how we could prevent a “bad culture” of clericalism in a group, whether it be priestly or lay.

Parishes were seen as a place where the laity could be empowered to live out their baptismal calling as missionary disciples, with faith formation being an important part of this.

The livestream of yesterday’s plenary sessions, including the full reports from the 10 small groups, can be accessed here.


Council members begin work of communal discernment (ACBC)

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