Treasuring difference can lead us to be a more missionary Church

By Lana Turvey-Collins, 29 August 2018
Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ, Bishop of the Diocese of Port Pirie, Ms Lana Turvey-Collins, Plenary Council Facilitator, and Fr Noel Connolly SSC, Plenary Council Facilitation Team. Image: ACBC.


This week, I visited a parish and spent time with a group of passionate women and men who are serving in the military and who belong to the Australian Defence Force Academy Catholic community in Canberra. It was a wonderful experience with people who are encountering one another with an attitude of love and openness to the Spirit.

Within the group, people held quite different perspectives that, to an outsider, might seem irreconcilable. However, in earnest, they are working as brothers and sisters in one Body of Christ toward discovering the future God has for us all. They are in genuine dialogue with one another, seeking the emergent voice of the Spirit.

The methodology of the Listening and Dialogue Encounter is an experience that takes some practice. The desire to list “what I want” or “what I don’t like” and put it forward for someone else to make the change is an approach that embeds a culture of clericalism and repeats behaviours that nurture a hierarchical Church.

Dialogue and listening to one another and reflecting on what God might be wanting from us, however, requires behaviours, language and attitudes of synodality. In this process, we need to work together, collaborating across boundaries that may have divided us in the past and, in this way, we can become a more missionary Church.

If we practise sharing stories and being in dialogue with one another in a way that begins with the belief that the “other” is someone I can learn from and see God in, then possibilities and opportunities and pathways forward emerge for us.

We bring ourselves with all of our strengths and flaws into the Listening and Dialogue Encounter, we are called to be gentle with one another, to treasure the differences and love one another as God does – unconditionally, and as imperfectly perfect as each of us are.

With thanks to the Plenary Council.

To find out more about Plenary 2020 in the Diocese of Parramatta, visit our website or contact Richard or Tanya on


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