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Brisbane archdiocese preparing to host massive discernment event for Plenary Council 2020

Looking ahead: Brisbane archdiocesan Plenary Council co-ordinator Eric Robinson (left), with Peter Pellicaan, Melissa Fenech, Sr Kari Hatherall and Troy Tornabene, wants Catholics from across Brisbane archdiocese to get involved in Brisbane Assembly. Photo: Mark Bowling

BRISBANE Assembly, an archdiocesan Plenary Council 2020 event, is expected to unite more than 600 Catholics across two days of communal discernment on October 4 and 5 at St Laurence’s College, South Brisbane.

Brisbane archdiocesan Plenary Council co-ordinator Eric Robinson said the Brisbane Assembly would be a great chance for people to hear directly from the national facilitation team – “where we’ve come from, where we’re at and where we’re heading”.

“It will be a really high-quality experience of listening and discernment from these spiritual conversations,” he said.

This experience of communal discernment was a great tool in itself, Mr Robinson said.

He said it was a tool that event participants could take back to their own parishes and communities.

He also said Brisbane Assembly would be a chance for the diverse parishes of Brisbane archdiocese to discern together and leave ready to implement local action in their communities.

“My hope is that people walk away from the assembly with hope and feeling empowered about this plenary journey and their role in it,” Mr Robinson said.

But it was also a great chance to network.

Mr Robinson said particularly in the informal parts of the event, like lunch or breaks, it was a great chance to meet like-minded people and discover new connections.

In an online invitation video, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the location, St Laurence’s Edmund Rice Performing Arts Centre, was a magnificent facility used for events like the Proclaim conference.

“We’ll be back there and we will be entering into an experience of communal discernment, trying to discern what the (Holy) Spirit is saying,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

 “We will have excellent facilitators, top-class presenters, and even if you can’t be there, Shalom TV will in fact be live-streaming many of the sessions.”

Mr Robinson said people should register for Brisbane Assembly as soon as possible because there were limited tickets.

He also had some advice in the lead-up to Brisbane Assembly.

For those going to the event ­– and for those who weren’t – it was essential to take some time to unpack the national themes.

He also encouraged people to engage their local community on those themes.

Archbishop Coleridge said since 2016 Australian Catholics had been on a journey together moving through the phases of the Plenary Council.

“Now we move from listening and dialogue to listening and discernment, because out of that experience of listening and dialogue we have distilled six themes,” he said.

The six themes are – missionary and evangelising; inclusive, participatory and synodal; prayerful and Eucharistic; humble, healing and merciful; a joyful, hope-filled and servant community; open to conversion, renewal and reform.

Archbishop Coleridge said the themes were “very broad and they were intended to be”.

Being broad, the themes encourage a process of discernment by which the themes could be distilled into topics.

It was from these topics that the Church could reach a concrete and realistic agenda for the Plenary Council sessions held in 2020 and 2021, Archbishop Coleridge said.

Events like Brisbane Assembly and smaller parish discernment events play a key role moving forward.

Mr Robinson said it fed into the next phase of the process, which was forming the national working groups for each national theme.

These national groups – composed of lay, religious, priests and bishops – would create thematic working papers which contribute to the final agenda of the first session of the Plenary Council in 2020.

For those who were sceptical of Plenary Council 2020 or had hard feelings for the Church, Mr Robinson said they had every right to feel that way, but he would encourage them to explore the council and what it was about.

He encouraged them to visit the national webpage, explore the themes, the snapshot reports and to reach out to him if they had any questions.

“I have great faith in the process and the people involved in this,” Mr Robinson said.

“We really need to hear from the broad spectrum of those people in the Church.

“If there was ever a time to engage and share what you feel God is asking of the Church today – this whole process is set up to listen to the spirit of the people. 

“That’s all part of the synodal Church.”

Mr Robinson said Plenary Council 2020 was potentially a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

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