It has been a significant time for so many people that the 5th Plenary Council of the church in Australia took place from 3–9 July, the first Council in over 80 years. People came from across the country, along with overseas visitors, and there was a great team of people who worked very hard to enable the Council to take place.
We progressed each day discussing and voting on Motions that strived to pave a way forward for our church within an Australian context. The reading from the Acts of Apostles on the Wednesday morning became a reality that day—and suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind and it filled the entire house where they were sitting—as members grappled with the section outlining the Equal Dignity of Men and Women.
This unsettling moment in the Council gave rise to an even deeper honesty and desire for unity which paved the way for a wonderful conclusion to the Council. As it was often said, the Council is another step along the way for our national church, the way forward, and not the complete answer.
The Council has opened up further impetus for a range of things, including: walking with our Indigenous brothers and sisters; developing the seven-year action platform for care of the Earth flowing from Pope Francis’s encyclical letter Laudato Sí; healing in the aftermath of the sexual abuse crisis; developing greater participation opportunities for women; along with becoming a Church which listens to all voices, leading up to the Synod on Synodality in Rome in 2023.
It focusses on structures and formation which are at the service of mission in the world today and a mission that is nurtured by a contemplative community who are ready to go beyond ‘safe zones’ to be at the edges of society.
May we take up the challenge of this moment which is there for each of us in our everyday lives and the Church as a community.
Words by Stancea Vichie MSS | Photos by Fiona Basile