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Listening and Dialogue phase nears end


With just three weeks to go until the close of the Listening and Dialogue phase, the Plenary Council is expecting a flood of responses from people across the country.

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Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB said in the eight months since the listening and dialogue period commenced the council had been pleased that more than 40,000 people had either made a submission or participated in a group discussion that culminated in a submission.

“Given it’s more than 80 years since the last Plenary Council in Australia and given, too, the changes in the Church and society since then, it was impossible to know how many people would take part in this historic process,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“It is both exciting and humbling to have heard from such large numbers of people and for them to have shared their stories of faith and hope, but also their stories of despair and heartbreak.

“Each of those stories is valuable and meaningful. So will be the stories we receive between now and Ash Wednesday (March 6).”

Plenary Council facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins said the Christmas period, as expected, saw another spike in the number of responses.

“We knew that many people who have a longstanding connection with Catholic life and culture, if not the weekly ritual of the Church, would attend Christmas Masses and welcome the opportunity to consider the question ‘What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?’.

“Our Christmas card campaign with local dioceses and parishes was designed to encourage everyone to embrace this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help the Church and its people consider our present and our future,” she said.

A report prepared by the National Centre for Pastoral Research (NCPR) shows that from May until the end of December last year, the Plenary Council received 155 submissions from the Archdiocese of Adelaide. This represented submissions from 92 individuals and 63 made by groups, covering a total of 763 respondents from the diocese.

Of the submissions received, 109 were as a direct result of participation in a Listening and Dialogue encounter.

Australia-wide about 42,000 people were involved in making 5388 group or individual submissions up until the end of December.

While the Listening and Dialogue phase will conclude on Ash Wednesday, Ms Turvey-Collins said collaboration – under the guidance of the Holy Spirit – would be a constant throughout the three-year Plenary journey.

She said the NCPR, using best-practice analysis methods, would be responsible for identifying key themes and topic areas that have emerged during the Listening and Dialogue period. These would be the focal points for the next step in the process.

“After Easter, when we will receive the objective analysis of the tens of thousands of voices that have contributed to this process, we will move into the next stage of the preparation phase: ‘Listening and Discernment’,” Ms Turvey-Collins said.

“People will continually be invited to participate in the Plenary Council, which is both a finite period of time, but also a transformative moment for the Church in Australia, which we expect will be more focused on dialogue and partnership in the years following the Council.”

For more information about how to make a submission visit the Plenary Council website at




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