In October 2021, the Catholic Church in Australia gathered for the first Assembly of the Plenary Council to be held since the second Vatican Council.

In 2018, when the decision to hold a Plenary Council was announced, the entire People of God in Australia began preparing for this historic moment by listening to God and by listening to one another’s stories of faith.

Responses to the discernment journey which began with the Listening and Dialogue Phase, followed by the Listening and Discernment Phase can still be accessed for your consideration and reflection. The six Thematic Discernment papers and Reflection Guide, prepared by several writing groups are also still available, by clicking here.

The members (formerly called delegates) were commissioned and participated in formation sessions in preparation towards fulfilling their role as members. At the same time, we were all called to continue our own journeys of prayer and discernment as we look forward in hope to the renewal of the Catholic Church in Australia.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the first Assembly was a mix of in-person and online delivery. Access agenda, key documents and Masses and livestreams from the First Assembly.

On December 8, 2021, the document First Assembly Proposals from Small Groups and Individual Members was published, gathering together the fruits of the first of two Plenary Council assemblies. Click here to access the document (updated December 15, 2021). These proposals are in raw form and require further refinement by working groups through the process of discussion, reflection and discernment.  

The second and final Assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will be held in Sydney from 4-9 July 2022. 

 

       

As children of God, disciples of Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, the Members of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia are called to develop concrete proposals to create a more missionary, Christ-centred Church in Australia at this time.

view Plenary Council Agenda

Introducing our Diocesan Plenary Council Members

Bishop Greg Bennet delivers his welcome message for the 2021 Plenary Council, and introduces the other members representing the Diocese. They share their hopes for the Plenary Council.

Our Plenary Council Members

Bishop Greg Bennet

Bishop Greg was ordained the 10th Bishop of Sale in December 2020, during the height of the COVID pandemic. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Melbourne in 1992, ministered in several parishes and held leadership positions before becoming the Bishop of our Diocese.

Our invitation

Under Pope Francis’ leadership, we are being invited to be agents of Christ’s mission of hope and compassion, so that our Church and our world may be renewed and transformed. We have been called to be more missionary, prayerful, humble and a healing Church.

Our Plenary Journey

We have been on a three-and-a-half-year journey of preparation for the Plenary. We’ve had opportunities to listen deeply, to dialogue and discern the way forward. We go to the Plenary Council, having listened to the many responses that arose from the Listening and Dialogue conversations held around the Diocese and in our 2019 Diocesan Assembly. We have now reached the point where we, your representatives to the Plenary Council, are currently undergoing formation and training for this exciting and challenging role. The whole Church of Australia is invited to be immersed in the Plenary Council journey. Please continue to pray for us that we may be guided by the Holy Spirit. May our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.

Fr Peter Slater VG

Fr Peter is the Vicar General of the Diocese and has served in many parishes over several decades. He is the Parish Priest of St Joseph’s Parish Warragul and St Ita’s Parish Drouin. Fr Peter has served as Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese three times, after the retirement of Bishop Coffey, between the periods of Bishop Prowse and Bishop O’Regan and prior to the appointment of Bishop Bennet. Fr Peter was involved in the plans and opening of the Diocese’s newest primary school, St Angela of the Cross, which officially opened in January 2021.

My hope for the Plenary Council

My dream for the Plenary Council is that it might unlock the energy in each Church member to play a part in the mission left to us by Jesus. We have a great story to tell, but we need to tell it better. There are structures and attitudes to confront around clericalism and our past failures. I am hopeful that we can listen to the Spirit and the contributions that people have made and in the reflections of each other.

Fr Denis O’Bryan EV

Fr Denis has many years’ experience of ministering in parishes all over Gippsland, from rural locations in East Gippsland to his current role as Parish Priest of St Thomas the Apostle parish in the growing and very multicultural suburb of Clyde North. St Thomas the Apostle is the newest parish in the Diocese, with Fr Denis installed in 2016 as its first Parish Priest.

My dream for the Plenary Council

My dream for the Plenary Council is that through our prayerful conversations and discernment in the first session, that the Holy Spirit will animate a new missionary impulse for the Church in Australia. I hope that in this first session of the Plenary Council we may celebrate the rich diversity and heritage of our Catholic faith but also learn new ways of accompanying one another as disciples, missionary disciples. And I look forward to representing the Sale Diocese because I’m a Gippslander. I love Gippsland, I’ve been in many of the parishes of Gippsland, from the smallest to the largest Churches. I know God has blessed and I passionately want people to know, how much God loves them.

Mrs Katherine Jelavic

I am a happy active parishioner of St Michael’s in Berwick, since moving here with Matthew and our 4 children on New Year’s Eve 2013. I also count myself as being extraordinarily fortunate to be a member of the Diocesan Gaudium et Spes Plenary team.

On being a Plenary Council Member

Being a Diocesan member of the Plenary is a bit over-awing, as there is so much expectation on the Council to deliver the goods, whatever they may be. Everyone wants something different, but this is the first council we have had in over 80 years and I am not sure how much can come out of one assembly. What is certain is that change is needed.

How society has changed

Can you remember our country just 50 years ago? Computers took up rooms, television screens were moving from black and white to colour, shops were only opened Monday to Friday from 9-5, families usually had one car, and Maccas was boutique food! Social practices and beliefs that were commonly accepted, even by the Church, are now acknowledged for what they always have been - quite inhumane and unjust. So change is required in our Church. We cannot profess Christ and act in ways that injure and judge. Both these things oppose the teachings we have. The Plenary Agenda is aimed at encouraging us to grow in faith, to come alive and be the light on the hill. The big question is how will we do this?

My hope for the Church and the Plenary Council

My hope is that we can find ways of living as a Catholic in the twenty first century that show the world in practical and real ways that being part of the body of Christ makes a positive difference. I dream that our Church becomes a leader in treating people and planet well, even when it is tough to do so. The accountant in me would like a five-year plan or map – something to measure ourselves by and we can track what works and what could be improved.

One measure of change I have already observed is the willingness of people to engage openly and honestly in the Listening & Discerning and Listening & Dialogue sessions and the Diocesan Assembly. Participating in prayerful and honest sharing of ideas to grow our parish, our diocese and our national church has been an incredible process to be part of. I hope that we continue to engage in communal prayer-based dialogue and grow the fruits of the discussions into reality.

Mrs Lize Privitera

Lize is a primary teacher with many years’ experience and an active parishioner of Our Lady Help of Christians, Narre Warren. She is currently the Deputy Principal at Mary MacKillop Primary School, Narre Warren North, with responsibility for Religious Education and Student Support.

My hope for the Plenary Council

I’m looking forward to representing the Diocese of Sale at the Plenary Council because I wish to continue on this journey of involvement in the Plenary discussions which are essentially about the future of the Catholic Church in Australia. It is a unique opportunity to gather and dialogue with many, in an open and inclusive process, allowing the Holy Spirit to enter our hearts and minds as we listen, exchange ideas, pray and discern.

Sister Mary Olufu

Sister Mary is a member of the Sisters of the Nativity congregation. She lives and works in Cranbourne Parish. She is representing religious women as a Plenary Member.

My hope for the Plenary Council

We are all God's children sharing a common life. God is with us; we are God's dwelling place. The Holy Spirit is actively working through us and in the entire creation in ways beyond our human imagination. My desire is that this Fifth Plenary Council of Australia be Spirit-filled and will enable us to claim our identity in God and truly live it out. May God bless us all.