In September last year the Colloquium for Australian Catholic Women was held at North Sydney. One powerful and energizing topic that emerged was the Plenary Council of the Australian Catholic Church that is planned for 2020. In September no details were known about the Plenary Council but the colloquium participants were enthusiastic about the opportunity to shape the future direction of the Australian Church.

In June, the Council for Australian Catholic Women met with Archbishop Mark Coleridge to dialogue about the aspirations of women for the Plenary Council. A copy of the briefing paper prepared for the meeting is available upon request.

Also the names of those appointed to the Plenary Council Executive Committee have been announced. This Committee will work closely with the Bishops Commission to ensure the successful preparation, celebration and implementation of the Plenary Council 2020.

The Executive Committee membership with their home diocese is as follows:

Mr Daniel Ang – Broken Bay
Mr Shayne Bennett – Brisbane
Br Ian Cribb SJ – Broken Bay
Dr Gemma Cruz – Melbourne
Sr Moya Hanlen FDNSC – Sydney
Ms Sally Hood – Brisbane
Mr John Lochowiak – Adelaide
Dr Brigid McKenna – Hobart
Ms Sarah Moffatt – Adelaide
Sr Grace Roclawska CSFN – Parramatta
Rev Dr Ormond Rush – Townsville
Dr Debra Sayce – Perth
Mrs Theresa Simon – Sydney (Maronite Church)
Dr Nigel Zimmerman – Parramatta

Archbishop Coleridge said that the Plenary Council will play a crucial role in shaping the Church’s future in Australia. ‘This is no time for the Church to be putting up signs that say “business as usual”. If we needed any proof, then the Royal Commission has shown that. We need to face the facts, and in the light of the facts, which aren’t always friendly, we have to make big decisions about the future. The Plenary Council will place the Church on a sound footing to respond to what is not merely an era of change but a change of era.’

Eight of these fourteen members are women and two of the women, Ms Sally Hood (a graduate of the Young Catholic Women’s Interfaith Fellowship) and Dr Gemma Cruz (a member of the Council for Australian Catholic Women), were present at the Colloquium in September.

In News and Views I have included a powerful article by Fr Frank Brennan on the visionary opportunity that the Plenary Council offers us. It is long, but believe me, it is worthwhile.

In Resources an interview with Dr Zagano provides invaluable information on Women Deacons.