Diaconate matters and the Plenary Council

By Deacon (Dr) Michael Tan, 18 October 2021
The National Deacons’ Conference Cross. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


With joy, the Permanent Diaconate community of the Diocese of Parramatta look forward to welcoming all delegates to the National Deacons Conference, to be held from 13 to 16 October 2022 at St. Joseph’s Conference and Retreat Centre, Baulkham Hills.

This Conference will be held at a critical time in the history of the Church in Australia, the Deacons of Australia gathering just after the final session of the Plenary Council, and 12 months before the Synod of Bishops on Synodality.

In this environment of the call for Church reform, for the People of God to choose the missionary option, and to become a more synodal, humble and participatory Church, the Conference will be a time for the deacons of Australia to pray, reflect, consider and discern ways in which the diaconate nationally can minister to a post-Plenary council and synodal Church, called on mission to be Good News for the people of Australia today.

The first session of the Plenary Council has just concluded. The 280 Members, including nine Members from the Diocese of Parramatta, gathered virtually for a week. There was time for daily Mass, as well as deep spiritual prayer and reflection. All Members were invited to a deep listening from a heart that seeks relationships of openness, respect and synodality with other Members. The Members were allocated to groups that explored the 16 questions on the Agenda.

There was much richness and diversity to the gathering, and I sensed a deep openness and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit in the livestreamed reports from the various groups. There was also a willingness to go into the deep, to allow the pain of the sins of the Church to lead us to a deeper conversion of heart. This call to a deeper conversion will hopefully result in a deeper listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit as the members continue their Spirit-guided work leading up to the final session of the Plenary Council in July next year.

On behalf of the deacons of Australia, I pray that we may be ministers who listen deeply to the Holy Spirit. In addition, may our ministry to the emerging synodal church called on mission, lead to a church that grows in humility, acknowledging our past and present failings, as well as a church called to go out into the deep, to mission at the margins of society in communion with our bishops and with God’s people.

We have also just confirmed that the Diocesan Development Fund of the Diocese of Parramatta will be the Conference Platinum sponsor while the Parramatta Catenians will be a Gold Sponsor. As we are still seeking more sponsorship, if any of our readers have contacts with potential sponsors, the Organising team would be most grateful for your help in this matter.

The Conference Organising Team, the Parramatta Permanent Diaconate Community, Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, and the Diocese of Parramatta as hosts, look forward to welcoming all visiting delegates to the 2022 National Deacons Conference.

The 2022 National Deacons Conference will be held at St. Joseph’s Retreat Centre, Baulkham Hills, from 13 to 16 October 2022. For more information about the 2022 National Deacons Conference, contact deaconsconference2022@gmail.com.

Deacon Michael Tan is a recently ordained Permanent Deacon of the Diocese of Parramatta and the Conference Convenor for the 2022 National Deacons Conference. He is currently serving at St Madeleine Sophie Barat Parish, Kenthurst.


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