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5th Plenary Council for the Australian Catholic Church

KRB’s Head of Sheldon Boarding House and Religion Teacher, Danielle Fairthorne shares about her experience at the plenary council: one of openness, challenge and deep discernment.

Over the last week, I have been involved as a delegate in the 5th Plenary Council for the Australian Catholic Church. This significant, historical event in the Catholic Church occurred over the past week. The last plenary council in Australia was held in the 1930s, no women or lay people were present, so to be called as a young woman in the Church today was a great blessing.

The council itself was a culmination of a journey that began in 2016 when the Australian Bishops declared the need for the Plenary Council acknowledging that the Catholic Church of Australia could no longer continue in a way that it saw “Business as usual”. The 5th Plenary Council saw over 300 Bishops, Priests, Religious, and lay people from various ministries come together to address 16 questions on the agenda. The focal point of our discernment was taken from Pope Franics call to dream;

‘I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelisation of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.’
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 27

Over the week, the council delegates discerned what the Holy Spirit was calling the Church in Australia to do next, how to reform, to re-learn new ways of being Gospel in Australia today. Issues relating to welcome, inclusion, hospitality, governance, mission, how can we reverently respond to the horrors of the past, and engage more richly with the First peoples of our nation, were all topics on the table. It was an enriching experience that will continue until the second council meeting in July 2022. At this meeting, formal proposals will be put to delegates for voting to move the Church forward. I am humbled and blessed to be a voice for young women in Australia at this council.

You can read more about my journey here:

Danielle Fairthorne
Head Of Sheldon House / R.E & VET Teacher