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Patterns emerging in Plenary Council responses – laity, culture, youth among the hotspots

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Church’s diversity: “Prayer, music and experiencing a closeness to God and the presence of Jesus in liturgy has also been discussed with many divergent views put forward; some explicitly have shared their desire for an enculturated Aboriginal spirituality as our uniquely Australian Catholic identity.”

THE Holy Spirit has spoken in 40,000 ways during the Listening and Dialogue phase of the Plenary Council 2020, and analysis of the responses show patterns are emerging. 

The Listening and Dialogue phase ends on Ash Wednesday, March 6.

National Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins said the community in Brisbane archdiocese responded with “great heart” to the first stage of the Plenary Council 2020.

She said the diversity of the encounters and the diversity of the people provided a sense of the faith that was “holistic, diverse and filled with beauty, hurts, joys – but most of all love”.

“In my experience, some of the topics which people in Brisbane have raised in their discussions include the experience of faith in the journey of life; the need for a change of culture at many levels; the role of lay women and men in leadership and governance of faith communities and Catholic organisations; the importance of life-long formation and learning for everyone; young people and the need for the Church to be active, engaged and relevant in contemporary society,” Ms Turvey-Collins said.

“Prayer, music and experiencing a closeness to God and the presence of Jesus in liturgy has also been discussed with many divergent views put forward; some explicitly have shared their desire for an enculturated Aboriginal spirituality as our uniquely Australian Catholic identity.

“In many Listening and Dialogue sessions people of different ages expressed the desire for the whole Church to engage in Australian society and speak and act with a unified voice and in response to national and global issues such as ecological change, social injustice and homelessness.”

Evangelisation Brisbane assistant director Troy Tornabene said after facilitating almost 20 Listening and Dialogue encounters, he was still amazed by the level of openness and engagement that he saw each and every time.

“I draw great strength and hope from seeing people gathered around tables, talking passionately about their faith and listening humbly to the personal stories shared,” he said.

After the Listening and Dialogue phase comes the Listening and Discernment phase, which begins at Pentecost.

“This next stage will be a time to read, pray, dialogue and listen deeply to the voices and the sense of faith which has been shared,” Ms Turvey-Collins said.  

“Communal discernment is a beautiful part of the Catholic tradition reaching back to the Council of Jerusalem in Acts of the Apostles.”

Figures from the National Centre for Pastoral Research showed between May and December 2018, Plenary Council 2020 had 5192 total respondents.

An estimated 40,000 responses had been submitted nationally as of December 2018, with these figures expected to grow due to Christmas-period responses.

To coincide with the next phase of the plenary journey starting on June 9, Brisbane archdiocese will host a Brisbane assembly from October 4-5.

This will be a large-scale event held at Edmund Rice Performing Arts Centre in South Brisbane.  

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