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Plenary 2020 Listening and Discernment sessions to commence next month


Dr Debra Sayce, Director of Catholic Education Western Australia and Tony Giglia, Archdiocese of Perth Plenary Council 2020 Co-ordinator, review material submitted during the Listening and Dialogue phase. Photo: Supplied.

By Eric Martin

In October 2020, the Church across Australia will gather for the first Plenary Council since the second Vatican Council and in preparation, the Listening and Discernment phase of the Plenary 2020 planning process has officially begun.

It is now time for those groups who participated in the Listening and Dialogue sessions to reconvene in communal Discernment on the six themes for Plenary 2020: Missionary and Evangelising; Inclusive, Participatory and Synodal; Prayerful and Eucharistic; Humble, Healing and Merciful; A joyful, hope-filled and servant community, and; Open to conversion, renewal and reform.

More than 222,000 people participated in listening and dialogue encounters and contributed 17,457 submissions during the first stage of preparation for the Australian Plenary Council, and both the Facilitation Team and the National Council for Pastoral Research read every submission received.

Archdiocese of Perth Plenary Council Coordinator Tony Giglia, said the response from the Church during the Listening and Dialogue phase was outstanding.

“It clearly demonstrated our commitment to respond to the challenges of our times,” Mr Giglia said.
“The challenge now is to ensure that the themes that we have discussed are prayerfully and discerningly interpreted in a manner that reveals the heart of those challenges, and how we can formulate, as a Church, the best response to meet them.”

The period for Listening and Discernment will officially be open for submissions until the end of March 2020, though the Plenary Council states that it is happy to continue to review submissions received as late as July.


Along with parishes and communities in the Archdiocese of Perth, who have all been encouraged to run discernment sessions, the Centre for Faith Enrichment (CFE) will soon be hosting listening and discernment sessions at the Newman Siena Centre, Doubleview, to determine how God is calling Australia’s faithful to be a Christ centred Church.

Each Discernment session is expected to result in a response that can be summarised in 1000 characters and that can be submitted through a form on the Discernment page (pictured below). The responses will then inform the Writing Groups who, relying on prayer, theological knowledge, and best practice, will work on thematic papers that will be presented at the first session of the Plenary Council in October 2020.The first three sessions to be conducted by the CFE will be:

  • 15 October, 10:00am – 12:00pm (Room S1.01) -Theme in Focus: missionary and evangelising;
  • 16 October, 1:30pm – 3:30pm (Room S2.01) - Theme in Focus: inclusive, participatory and synodal, and;
  • 17 October, 5:30pm – 7:30pm (Room S1.01) - Theme in Focus: prayerful and Eucharistic.

Three more sessions focusing on the last remaining themes will be held in February 2020: humble, healing and merciful; a joyful, hope-filled and servant community, and; open to conversion renewal and reform – with exact dates and venues still to be announced.

 “There are many reasons for having a Plenary Council for the Catholic Church in Australia: Australian society has changed significantly and while it wasn’t the reason why the Plenary Council was first called, the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse has been one of the reasons highlighting the urgency for the Church in Australia to host a Council,” Dr Marco Ceccarelli, the Director of the Centre for Faith Enrichment said.

“As Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge said, the culture in which we have to proclaim the Gospel is very different to what it was even 20 or 30 years ago.”

“The first session of the Plenary Council will be held in October 2020 in order to give the Catholic community in Australia time to listen, dialogue and discern with one another and, guided by the Holy Spirit, talk about the future role and relevance of the Catholic Church in Australia,’ he explained.

Snapshot reports on each of the six themes, including user friendly guidelines on how to run listening and discernment sessions are available by Clicking Here

More information on sessions in parishes across Perth will be available in the coming weeks. For more information contact the Archdiocesan Communications Office at