OUR journey to the Plenary Council 2020 over the past year has been a grace-filled time where we have gathered with others in faith, prayed and listened to others and shared our own stories. I hope that has been a gift to those who have been able to participate in this process.

In receiving and reading hundreds of Plenary submissions from parishes, regional gatherings, organisations, staffs, councils and individuals, it is apparent that there are several areas of pastoral activity which can be considered and implemented in the diocese now, without waiting for the Plenary Council.

To this end, Bishop Pat O’Regan has called a Diocesan Assembly for September 13-14 to be held at Marist-Sion College, Warragul. The assembly will be on the Friday from 5pm to 9pm and continue on Saturday from 9am to 4pm. It is anticipated that there will be around 400 people gathered, including clergy, parish delegates, school principals, religious education leaders, Catholic Education, CatholicCare, diocesan agencies and others. Leaders of other Christian denominations may also be invited to participate.

Our Diocesan Assembly will be facilitated by the National Centre for Evangelisation and Lana Turvey-Collins, the National Plenary Facilitator will be in attendance.

Our Diocesan Assembly theme is Sharing our Story, Celebrating Our Faith, Shaping the Future Some important questions for us to consider are: How can we, as the disciples of Jesus in the Diocese of Sale, better live out the call of Jesus to mission? How can we best gather people to discuss, reflect and discern together the future direction for our diocese, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?

In our diocese, as with all dioceses in the global Church, we are challenged to become a synodal Church. What does this mean in our context? Pope Francis, in his address in 2015, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Synod of Bishops makes the bold assertion that “It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium.”

We are called to be a People of God who walk with each other in the path of Jesus Christ who is our Way, Truth and Life. The way of being and acting as synodal Church has its roots deeply embedded in scripture and tradition. As the baptised we all have a shared responsibility to shape the Church of the future, to discern what it is< that God is calling us to be and do.

We have such diversity in our diocese and it is important to hear as many different voices as possible. In our preparation for the Diocesan Assembly, then, we are being invited, once again, to listen to God through the Holy Spirit and through the voices of the people whom we encounter.

Our Gaudium et Spes Diocesan Team, together with the National Centre for Evangelisation, are preparing some materials for parish and school engagement prior to the assembly. Parishes will be sent prayer and discussion resources in the coming months.

-By Sophy Morley

This article first appeared in Catholic Life April 2019