Plenary Council – October 2021

In just under a month, from October 3-10, the first session of the Plenary Council will begin on-line rather than in person, which had been initially been planned for, or using a combination of on-line and in state hubs, which was thought to be safe bet a year ago.

Technology Set for Spirit-led Council Assembly

Bishop Shane Mackinlay, the Plenary Council’s vice-president, said the Council journey has adapted to changing circumstances because of COVID-19 – and it is adapting again.

‘With most of the country’s population currently in lockdown or having experienced lockdowns in recent weeks, we have plans in place to ensure the first assembly opens on October 3. Just as there was disappointment in needing first to postpone the assembly and then to move to regional hubs, the likelihood that most members will now join the assembly from their home is not what we had planned and hoped for. We know, though, that the Holy Spirit can and will work through this assembly, just as the Spirit has led us over the past three-and-a-half years.

The last Plenary Council held was in 1937… 81 years ago. Times have changed.

‘In the end it will be the bishops who will vote on any future directions for the church in Australia, they will be making those decisions in the light of a long listening to the Holy Spirit speaking through the voices of any of the faithful who wish to speak around Australia. This makes the Plenary Council 2021/22 different from the last one in 1937. Everyone has a chance to participate and to express whatever the Spirit is saying to them.’

The PC Ride is About to Begin.

‘It will only reach its potential of revitalising the church in Australia if its members are not too tightly strapped in. The assembly process must allow voices to be heard and never become an unnecessary strait-jacket on the journey.’

John Warhurst, one of the members of the Plenary Council

What is a Plenary Council? Why a Plenary Council?

‘A Plenary Council is a formal meeting of the bishops and other representatives of all the dioceses and eparchies of the Catholic Church in Australia. Its purpose is to discern what God is asking of us in Australia at this present time. While the church should be asking that question continually, a Plenary Council is a particularly graced instrument for seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And it has the authority to make church laws on the results of its discernment.

Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB will celebrate the opening Mass at 11.00am AWST (2.00pm AEDT), which will be livestreamed from St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth on the Council website. Preview stories before the opening of the Council continue to be published across the country. Keep an eye on our social media channels to keep abreast of what’s happening. Plenary Council ( We’ll also have a bumper edition of Plenary Post next month, explaining how the whole Church in Australia can participate in the Plenary Council from wherever you are.

From PlenaryPost No 37 August 27th 2021


Come, Holy Spirit of Pentecost.

Come, Holy Spirit of the great South Land.

O God, bless and unite all your people in Australia

and guide us on the pilgrim way of the Plenary Council.

Give us the grace to see your face in one another

and to recognise Jesus, our companion on the road.

Give us the courage to tell our stories

and to speak boldly of your truth.

Give us ears to listen humbly to each other

and a discerning heart to hear what you are saying.

Lead your Church into a hope-filled future,

that we may live the joy of the Gospel.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,

bread for the journey from age to age. Amen.

Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us.

St Mary MacKillop, pray for us.