Plenary Council 2020: Delegates talk purpose for participation
Perth Plenary delegate UNDA Senior Lecturer in Theology Dr Angela McCarthy encouraged the community to be positive, to listen to the Holy Spirit, to pray, engage with each other and to have confidence that the voice of the Church will be heard during the Plenary Council process. Photo: Supplied.
By Amanda Murthy
Guided by the Holy Spirit, Plenary Council lay Perth delegates Marco Ceccarelli and Angela McCarthy express their sentiments on being elected as Perth representatives, as they look forward to their involvement in the upcoming Plenary Council Assemblies in October 2020 and May 2021.
Dr McCarthy, Senior Lecturer in Theology at The University of Notre Dame Australia, encouraged the community to be positive, to listen to the Holy Spirit, to pray, engage with each other, and to have confidence that the voice of the Church will be heard.
“My hopes for the Plenary Council are formed from an experience of participatory difficulties in the Church, so I’m hopeful that we will move towards a more participatory, inclusive and synodal Church.”
Lending some suggestions of ways the Church can listen to the different groups, Dr McCarthy highlighted some of the challenges faced by two groups she is closely associated with.
“For many years I have taught the compulsory core unit in theology, and what I heard many times from young adults in my classes was that they felt the Church did not listen to them,” Dr McCarthy stated.
“My students were surprised to hear that there was a theology that embraced the beauty and sanctity of human sexuality, they were surprised at Church teachings on the preciousness of human life.
“Another group are the older mature women who have expressed the need to give a human and welcoming face to the teachings of the Church for their children and grandchildren, however feel like they are under-resourced and unsupported by the Church,” she explained.
Dr McCarthy added that in discerning the many needs of the Catholic community, a great deal of prayer, humility before God, and a strong sense of justice in understanding the needs of others is vital.
Perth Plenary delegate Centre for Faith Enrichment Director Dr Marco Ceccarelli hopes the Plenary Council will explore ways to initiate, support and strengthen the faith of the laity, including men and women, youth, families, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor and marginalised. Photo: Supplied.
Centre for Faith Enrichment (CFE) Director Dr Ceccarelli hopes the PC will explore ways to initiate, support and strengthen the faith of the laity, including men and women, youth, families, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor and marginalised.
Dr Ceccarelli spoke about the theme is most looking forward to during the upcoming PC sessions, and why it hits close to home.
“I particularly liked the theme: ‘A Joyful, Hope-filled and Servant Community’, because I grew up with a sibling who has a disability.
“While this presented me with numerous challenges, particularly during my adolescent years, it was through serving him and coming out of my individualism to love him, that I learned to be the husband, father, brother, friend, and colleague that I am today.
“The Church, my Christian community, and the perseverance of my Catechists were the means through which I learnt to love him.
“This is just one example of so many in my life where I felt that the Church was present and helped me to understand and make sense of my suffering,” he added.
Having seen the fruits that have come from the first two Plenary Council phases (Listening and Dialogue and Listening and Discernment), Dr Ceccarelli is confident that the Church will continue to take the synodal approach – that is to be a Church that walks together, where the faithful listens to each other, and all try to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking in the voices of the group.
Being a synodal Church, Dr Ceccarelli added, demands a certain vulnerability on “our” part, which can be unsettling.
“I hope that through this process of PC, our Church can rediscover the value of those elements of formation and evangelisation that are so central to its mission.
“I am thinking of processes of Christian initiation to adult faith and adult faith programs where the good news is announced to women, men, young, old, celibate, religious, and lay.
“Only receiving this news on a Sunday is sometimes not enough to sustain our faith. We should hear it more often and it should be accompanied by a study and understanding of Scripture within the context of Liturgy.
“I also hope we can rediscover the concept of community and communion as I believe it is difficult to grow in faith if one takes an individualistic approach.
“We need others in our lives who call us to serve as Christ served us,” he concluded.
The Shopfront Director Damian Walsh and Applecross Parish Youth Coordinator Emily Hardbottle join Dr McCarthy and Dr Ceccarelli as the other two Perth lay representatives.