Listening, dialogue and prayer have carried us to this point.

It is a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit that the Church in Australia has reached this point in the journey toward the Plenary Council. As we begin the second stage of preparation – Listening and Discernment – I have been thinking about what has brought us here.

The past 18 months have been an experience of personal growth and professional inspiration and I am deeply grateful to every person who is a part of shaping this journey. Each person who has given time, prayer, skills and energy to any part of the Plenary Council journey is invaluable. Thank you from all of us here at the Facilitation Team.

Earlier this year, Dr Trudy Dantis and her team at the National Centre for Pastoral Research began reading all of your submissions and then, in late May, the Bishops Commission joined by the Executive Committee and the Facilitation Team came together at St Peter Canisius House in Pymble, NSW, for three days of listening to Trudy and her team explain to us what all of you had shared so generously.

They were days of deep prayer, open-hearted listening and intense conversation that I found personally very challenging and profoundly faith-filled. The six National Themes for Discernment that resulted from your submissions and those days of prayer provide for all of us a framework for taking the next step forward together.

Now we are challenged to look forward, to face some “big questions”, to listen to one another even more deeply as we discern:

How is God calling us to be a Christ-centred Church in Australia that is missionary and evangelising; inclusive, participatory and synodal; prayerful and Eucharistic; humble, healing and merciful?

How are we called to be a joyful, hope-filled, servant community, one that is open to conversion, renewal and reform?

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