The PlenaryPost is the e-newsletter of the Plenary Council. If you’re not already subscribed, you can subscribe at the bottom of the site or on the newsletter page.


  • Plenary Post Edition 49

    When the Plenary Council process began, it was always spoken of as a three-stage journey: Preparation, Celebration and Implementation. Well, after four-and-a-half years, the People of God in Australia have reached that third stage.

  • Plenary Post Edition 48

    After almost four-and-a-half years, thousands of meetings, and untold prayers, we find ourselves just two days away from the opening Mass of the second general assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia.

  • Plenary Post Edition 47

    If counting down to milestones is your thing, we today find ourselves 38 days away from the Mass to open the second assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, with the Council's formal program to begin the following day on July 4. More than 300 people -- members, advisers, observers and support personnel -- will be in Sydney to see the celebration stage of the Plenary Council reach its conclusion.

  • Plenary Post Edition 46

    “For more than four years, we have sensed the power of prayer and the presence of the Holy Spirit in the work of the [Plenary] Council. As we move towards the development, consideration and approval of key proposals to renew the Church in Australia, the need for prayer has never been greater."

  • Plenary Post Edition 45

    The Plenary Council is a journey for the whole Catholic Church in Australia, but it is being celebrated in various ways across the country and interacting with other local, national and international processes.

  • Plenary Post Edition 44

    What's happening at the moment? What are the key milestones coming up? I've been hearing about the Synod of Bishops -- can I still get involved?

  • Plenary Post Edition 43

    One of the questions that we're seeing a lot these days relates to how the Plenary Council and the international "Synod on Synodality" align, or how they might differ. In reading some of the foundational documents for the Synod on Synodality, the Australian Plenary Council experience is cited often as something of a model for how the Synod invites the People of God into a shared journey of dialogue, of discernment and of prayer.


  • Plenary Post Edition 42

    Earlier this month, a document gathering up the fruits of the first general assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia was published, again inviting the People of God across the country to engage with the work undertaken by the Council's almost 280 members.

  • Plenary Post Edition 41

    After the busyness of the lead-up to the first general assembly of the Plenary Council and the intensity of that week, there needed to be something of a "recovery" period, allowing the outcomes of those days to settle and be distilled for the journey to the second assembly in July.

  • Plenary Post Edition 40

    All the years of preparation for a Plenary Council didn't necessarily prepare the Church in Australia for what the first general assembly would become -- an online gathering, with most Members joining the assembly from their own home, helping discern how the Church can be renewed in and through Christ.

  • Plenary Post Edition 39

    In less than 24 hours, the Opening Mass for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will be celebrated at St Mary's Cathedral in Perth. It will be a focal point for the Church in Australia as a journey that has its origins two decades ago finally commences the nine-month period of celebration, with the Second General Assembly scheduled for July 2022.

  • Plenary Post Edition 38

    It is almost three-and-a-half years to the day since we announced that Pope Francis had given his approval for the Catholic Church in Australia to hold a plenary council. It was a long journey from the seeds of a national gathering until that approval, and the time since the official period of preparation began has seen the Church traverse drought, bushfire, floods and an ongoing pandemic.

  • Plenary Post Edition 37

    The Steering Team for the Plenary Council's assemblies, with sub-committees across a range of key areas, are ramping up preparations for the first assembly, which opens on October 3. Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB will celebrate the opening Mass at 11am AWST (2pm AEDT), which will be livestreamed from St Mary's Cathedral in Perth on the Council website.

  • Plenary Post Edition 36

    With much of greater Sydney in lockdown and two other states having just emerged from lockdown, there is a sense of comfort in knowing that all the planning for a multi-modal Plenary Council assembly in October means we are ready for all eventualities. That is not to say there aren't a lot of plans to be finalised, but we are well prepared to support the Council's members and the Catholic community through the days of the assembly.

  • Plenary Post Edition 35

    As we sit 101 days before the first Plenary Council assembly, momentum is building in preparation for the assembly and within the broader Catholic community. While the focus can be on the assembly and the Members who will attend -- bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful -- the journey continues to be one for the whole Church in Australia.

  • Plenary Post Edition 34

    There are a number of important and uplifting stories below, including about a couple of milestone moments at Pentecost -- the launch of a new prayer campaign and the Council's formal convocation.

  • Plenary Post Edition 33

    There was a sense of extra energy in parishes over Easter, having lived through the first suspension of public Masses in decades last year, including during Holy Week. Some dioceses used the occasion to commission Plenary Council members, with large numbers of people gathered for Mass.

  • Plenary Post Edition 32

    There has been a sense through this Plenary Council journey that the Catholic world is following what is happening in Australia closely. With just two other plenary councils having taken place in the past 60 years around the world, and none with the level of dialogue and discernment of the Australia process, there's significant interest in what will unfold.

  • Plenary Post Edition 31

    There are just 219 days until the opening of the first assembly of the Plenary Council. And while there is a sense of deja vu about that, with significant preparations taking place early last year before the assemblies were delayed by 12 months, there's also renewed energy -- some of which is captured in the stories below.


  • Plenary Post Edition 30

    As 2020 draws towards its conclusion, it would have been hard to imagine 12 months ago how much our world -- and our Plenary Council journey -- would change in the subsequent year.

  • Plenary Post Edition 29

    The contribution of more than 220,000 people from across the country during the Listening and Dialogue phase of the Plenary Council set the foundation for the journey towards the Council's assemblies. But there was a group that was planting the seeds of this historic journey even earlier.

  • Plenary Post Edition 28

    If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, delegates from across Australia would be descending on Adelaide this weekend for the opening assembly of the Plenary Council. The pandemic has put people's lives on hold in many ways, and the Council is no different.

  • Plenary Post Edition 27

    The postponement of the Plenary Council assemblies by 12 months has been both a blessing and a challenge. One of the blessings has been the additional time to consider how we can be a Christ-centred Church in Australia with a clearer understanding of how COVID-19 is changing the country and the Church.

  • Plenary Post Edition 26

    The postponement of the first assembly of the Plenary Council by 12 months might have seemed like a slowing down of the Council journey, but lots of work continues to proceed. Groups around the country are unpacking the six discernment papers that were published at Pentecost. One diocese is making that task easier with the provision of podcasts of the papers' text.

  • Plenary Post Edition 25

    As some parts of the country return to something closer to normal, there's a sense of relief that the two assemblies of the Plenary Council -- previously postponed due to COVID-19 -- are locked in. We will gather in Adelaide in October 2021, 12 months later than we had planned, for the first assembly. The second assembly will be held in Sydney in July 2022.

  • Plenary Post Edition 24

    The past couple of weeks have been bittersweet ones for the Plenary Council. On March 23, we announced the more than 250 delegates that have been called to the Plenary Council, providing a ray of good news in the midst of a Church and a country consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Plenary Post Edition 23

    Many of the key groups helping the Church prepare for the Fifth Plenary Council in Australia and its two assemblies -- the first in Adelaide this October -- have met over the past couple of weeks.

  • PlenaryPost Edition 22

    The build-up to the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia has, in many ways, been a long process. The origins of the Council go back almost 20 years, as the Australian bishops considered St John Paul II’s call in his apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte for the Church to consider its place in contemporary society.


  • Plenary Post Edition 20

    Over a period of six weeks, the Plenary Council team, in partnership with the National Centre for Pastoral Research (NCPR), published a series of "snapshot reports" relevant to each of the six National Themes for Discernment. This past Sunday, the NCPR published the final report to summarise the Listening and Dialogue phase of the Plenary Council.

  • Plenary Post Edition 19

    The month since the launch of the second phase of preparing for the Plenary Council – Listening and Discernment – has been a busy one on both sides of the world.

  • Plenary Post Edition 18

    The Plenary Council process so far has been an exercise in listening, in dialogue, in conversation -- in changing the way the People of God communicate with one another, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  • Plenary Post Edition 17

    The end of the Listening and Dialogue phase of the Plenary Council last month in some ways marked a public "pause" in the process, allowing the people of God to focus on preparing for and celebrating the great feast and season of Easter. During this period, significant work is taking place to review and analyse the submissions and lay the groundwork for the second phase: Listening and Discernment.

  • Plenary Post Edition 16

    It covered almost 10 months and culminated in a flurry of late submissions, but the Listening and Dialogue phase of the Plenary Council has yielded a remarkable foundation from which the people of God can move forward.

  • Plenary Post Edition 15

    With the last Plenary Council in Australia having been held more than 80 years ago and with there being no real “prototype” for a national council of this type in the world, it was unclear how the Australian people would participate – especially in the opening Listening and Dialogue phase.

  • Plenary Post Edition 14

    With just over two weeks to go until the “Listening and Dialogue” phase of the Plenary Council concludes, momentum is still strong and people’s stories are being shared as frequently as ever.

  • Plenary Post Edition 13

    As Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, the Plenary Council 2020 president, said last week, it was hard to know how many people would grasp the opportunity to consider “what God is asking of us in Australia at this time”. Through the end of 2018, the answer was “more than 40,000” – people who either shared their own story or took part in a gathering that led to a group submission.


  • Plenary Post Edition 12

    It's hard to believe that 2018 is already coming to a close. It's also hard to believe that the Plenary Council's Listening and Dialogue phase has been going for seven months already. Time has flown by and people's stories of life and faith have flooded in.

  • Plenary Post Edition 11

    Much of the focus for the Plenary Council so far has been on the primary question that the Council is considering: "What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?" That is the first of three pieces of stimulus that people are invited to reflect upon when making a submission to the Council.

  • Plenary Post Edition 10

    With more than 5 million people ticking "Catholic" on the last Australian Census, the Plenary Council was always going to be ambitious in its efforts to connect with and hear from a large number of people.

  • Plenary Post Edition 9

    As more and more people across the country learn about the Plenary Council process and realise they are able to help shape the agenda for the Council, stories of conversations taking place in innovative ways are emerging.

  • Plenary Post Edition 8

    People working in Church communications – for dioceses, religious orders, schools and other ministries – gathered in Queensland last week for a triennial conference with the theme “Communicating Hope and Trust”, taken from one of Pope Francis’ messages for World Communications Day.

  • Plenary Post Edition 7

    The Catholic Church in Australia, like many in the western world, has been undergoing a quite radical transformation in recent years. The history of the Church here was largely forged by people with British, Irish and European heritage – just as the nation’s history was influenced by those cultures.

  • Plenary Post Edition 6

    Observant readers of PlenaryPost will notice that today’s edition has come out on a Wednesday, not a Tuesday. That’s because today is one of the highlights of the Catholic year, as we stop and commemorate the life and legacy of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop. Mary MacKillop was a person who recognised the need for her and her Sisters to be adaptable to their circumstances.

  • Plenary Post Edition 5

    When the Church decided to hold a Plenary Council to consider the future of the Catholic Church in Australia, it naturally became a focal point for many people. We know that the success of the Council will depend largely on how the people of God choose to participate -- or not -- with the process.

  • Plenary Post Edition 4

    The first seven weeks of the Plenary Council's Listening and Dialogue process have flown by and submissions continue to flood in through the Plenary Council's website. In the next edition of PlenaryPost we'll let you know what you're telling us about what you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time.

  • Plenary Post Edition 3

    It's been another busy fortnight as the Plenary Council marks one month since the official launch at Pentecost. Momentum is building as people across Australia get together in groups, download the Listening and Dialogue guide, get together for conversation and then are sending their responses in online. More than 120 responses have already been received.

  • Plenary Post Edition 2

    Welcome to the second edition of PlenaryPost, the Plenary Council e-newsletter. It has been a busy two weeks since the official launch of the Plenary Council 2020 process at Pentecost. As we outline below, many dioceses have held local events to mark the launch and dozens of people have already held Listening and Dialogue sessions and made a submission to the Plenary Council team.