Plenary Delegates in Service to the Gospel Mission

Wednesday 4 March 2020

Communications Office
The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne (CAM) has submitted the names of eight possible delegates to the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council, from which four will be chosen to attend both the assembly in Adelaide (4-11 October 2020) and the assembly in Sydney (27 June - 2 July 2021).

A total of 78 applications were received by the Archdiocese, from which a Selection Panel recommended eight people to Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, who accepted the recommendations.

Chair of the Selection Panel, Mark Edwards OMI, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, said that each one of the 78 names submitted could have easily been put forward as a delegate for their example of Christian wisdom and faith. He stressed that delegates are not ‘representatives’ of particular causes, groups or issues, but ‘delegates’ in service to the Gospel mission.

Other members of the Selection Panel were: Fr Martin Ashe (Parish Priest, Mernda/Whittlesea), Tiffany Davis (Communications Manager, CAM), Tricia Norman (Senior Pastoral Associate, Parishes of Deepdene & Balwyn and Camberwell), Teresa Rhynehart (Director of Mission, CAM), Fr Albert Yogarajah (Parish Priest, Werribee) and Nigel Zimmermann (Principal Advisor to the Archbishop, CAM).

Of the 78 applications received, 44 were women and 34 were men—all with active participation in the various areas of the Catholic Church across the Archdiocese (e.g. parish life, education, healthcare, social services, etc.). Many of the growing ethnic communities were represented and the ages of applicants ranged from 18 to 82 years old. It was also encouraging to have received applications from all four regions of the Archdiocese.

The following criteria were used to assess the applications received:

The chosen candidates must reflect:
  • a commitment to living the Gospel through prayer, sacramental practice and work;
  • an informed awareness of the broader context and challenges of the Church in Australia;
  • an evident ecclesial practice in Melbourne;
  • a potential for leadership in the Church and/or her ministries; the diversity of cultural identity, age and gender balance in the local Church.

Also necessary was a demonstrable maturity and ability to read material, engage in discussion and make an informed contribution for the good of the wider Church community. While theological qualifications were not necessary, it was identified that a spiritual and prayerful sense of personal growth in Jesus Christ would be helpful features to sustain a contribution to the work of the Plenary Council.

The Selection Panel was also sensitive to ensuring the diversity of cultural identity, gender, age, and pastoral and professional experience in the list of recommended candidates, so as to enhance the contributions of the local church to the national assembly.

“Members of the panel were very sensitive and considered in their assessment of each candidate and worked for a balance of ministries and experiences in the group of eight candidates,” Bishop Mark said.

“There was a real openness in the panel and we approached this question mindful of the many needs and hopes of the Catholic Church across our Archdiocese. We are grateful to all those who put themselves forward as possible delegates.”

The announcement of the final list of delegates will be made in the week of 16-20 March 2020. Soon after that, the final papers from the six Discernment and Writing Groups – one for each of the six national themes for discernment – will be published. These papers will be central to the preparation of the instrumentum laboris, or working paper, for the Plenary Council—with the first assembly scheduled for October this year.

We pray God’s blessing on the delegates in their work for the Plenary Council.
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