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Thursday, 29 July 2021 19:31

Plenary Council members excited about call to 'listen deeply' for Holy Spirit


Plenary Council logo 550The Divine Word Missionaries will have two members at the upcoming Plenary Council and both say they are looking forward to being a part of such a forward-looking and significant process for the Catholic Church in Australia.

Provincial, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD, will be a member of the Plenary Council and attend its official sessions in October, as will Alice Springs Parish Priest, Fr Prakash Menezes SVD, who will be part of the Darwin Diocese’s delegation, due to his role as Episcopal Vicar for the Diocese’s Central Region.

Fr Rass says he is energised by the synodal and consultative nature of the Plenary Council.

“I find the concept of synodality absolutely refreshing,” he says. “It’s the right time for the Catholic Church in Australia to work towards it.

“Because it’s based on the baptismal priesthood of all believers. And that’s my hope for the Plenary Council, that we focus not so much on the clerical Church but on the baptised faithful.

“Synodality, if we’re serious about it, will awaken what’s already there – what every single baptised Catholic is called to, which is mission and holiness.

“I’ve got a great sense of hope for the Plenary Council in this regard.”

Fr Prakash says he is “excited” about taking part in the Plenary Council.

“I’m feeling very positive about it,” he says.

“I think people are very slowly realising what it’s all about and there’s a sense of anticipation building among the people.

“The Church is God’s people, so let’s work together in this. No more ‘me’, but ‘us’ as a team, as a unity.”

Fr Prakash says the Instrumentum Laborium, or the working document of the Council, was formed by the feedback that came from a long period of consultation at the grass-roots level. The Council’s agenda reflects the key themes brought forward.

He says he is particularly mindful of being a voice for his parishioners, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous and for the hopes and dreams of Catholics in Central Australia, as expressed through a range of consultations and feedback opportunities.

“This Plenary Council is happening after 80-plus years since the last one, so it’s an historic opportunity,” Fr Prakash says.

“It’s important to evaluate how we are travelling. We do this regularly as SVDs within our Province and now we have the opportunity to ask the same question of all the Church.

“I feel it’s a privilege to be a part of it, both for the Diocese and as a Divine Word Missionary.”

Fr Rass says he has been asking the SVD confreres to pray regularly to the Holy Spirit for the success of the Plenary Council.

“In particular we’re praying that the 282 members of the Plenary Council will listen deeply to the movement of the Holy Spirit, not just in the confines of the Church but also outside the Church,” he says.

“And we pray that they keep their hearts and minds open to what the Holy Spirit will do and not be too negative towards the future.

“The Church is orientated to both today and the future.

“It’s God’s Church and God’s mission and we’re excited to be part of the mission.”

Fr Rass says that while he’s full of hope for the Plenary Council and what it can achieve, he’s not expecting sweeping change.

“I’m not expecting a radical revolution to take place, but I hope it will begin a process for renewal for the Catholic Church in Australia and a walk towards inner conversion.”