During November, St Bernadette’s Parish, Castle Hill, held two Plenary Council 2020 discernment meetings. The meetings chose to focus on two of the six National Themes for Discernment – Prayerful and Eucharistic, and Missionary and Evangelising.
Lisa Bright, Project Officer, Pastoral Planning Office, Diocese of Parramatta, facilitated and explained the process to the groups. We began by reflecting upon a particular scriptural reading and pondering for twenty minutes. Each member of the group wrote down their thoughts and took a turn to express them to the other members of their listening group. Interestingly, everyone in our group discovered something different in the same passage, but also had thoughts in common. Some had words or phrases jumping out at them and others felt the Holy Spirit was giving them a particular message.
After sharing our thoughts and listening to the scripture, we broke for supper and a time to meet parish members who we may not have previously met.
The second part of the evening was spent looking at the Snapshot Reports of the two Themes of Discernment and writing down our views on local and national issues; some which we would like to suggest or which we felt should be implemented. Castle Hill parishioners are never short of suggestions, so these were many and varied. The opportunity to express our suggestions both to our parish council and to the bishops were much appreciated. Many wonderful ways to approach different issues were recorded and the exercise was very worthwhile.
One parishioner told me that she was pleasantly surprised at how well the meeting was conducted and that it was refreshing to be able to have a deep and meaningful conversation about issues which concerned her. Another told me that she was filled with hope listening to the views of others. Many were happy that others in the parish had similar views to their own.
Our suggestions have now been passed on to the Parish Council for their discernment and onwards to the Plenary Council. Many of those who had participated in the first part of the Plenary process were very pleased that their concerns had been recorded in the Snapshot Report. All were very grateful for the opportunity afforded them to express their views and have them listened to.
We look forward to hearing the response from our Parish Council and from the Bishops. Hopefully these thoughts and ideas if implemented can help the Church in Australia to flourish in the future.
Monica Guy is a parishioner St Bernadette’s Parish, Castle Hill.
There is still the opportunity to form listening and discernment groups and submit your responses to https://plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au/listening-and-discernment/
For more information about Plenary Council and Discernment Groups contact the Pastoral Planning Office at firstname.lastname@example.org