To celebrate the 7 October anniversary of the death of Fr Julian Tenison Woods, co-founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, this year we have done something special.
Fr Julian was a man of many talents: an environmentalist, scientist, priest, explorer, campaigner for social justice and the rights of Indigenous people, among many others.
To introduce Fr Julian to the next generation, we have produced the attached resources for children and adults.
Update 14 October 2021: Sr Monica Cavanagh reflects on the themes and achievements of the first Assembly.
The long-awaited first session of Australia’s Fifth Plenary Council begins this Sunday, 3 October. After a long process of discernment and hard work, hundreds of delegates will gather to undertake “the challenging task of trying to understand what it means to belong to the Catholic Church in Australia at this particular moment in our history and what God is asking of us as his Church now and into the future.” (Instrumentum Laboris, 2) Among these delegates are many Sisters of Saint Joseph.
On 5 August, 45 leaders of religious congregations were formally commissioned as members of the Plenary Council in a virtual ritual prepared by Catholic Religious Australia. As the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, I am a member participating in the formal sessions of the Plenary Council.
I am looking forward to this time, with a hopeful heart that the Spirit will be guiding us in our deliberations. I have already seen the Spirit moving in and among us in the preparation sessions and in the thematic papers that underpin the agenda of the Council. I appreciated that the agenda has come to us in the form of questions which, for me, invites openness to what is yet to come.
In my role as a member of the Plenary Council Facilitation Team, with Lana Turvey-Collins, Peter Gates, and Olivia Lee, there still seems to be countless matters to attend to in these final days of preparation before the first session of the Plenary on 3 October.
Every Tuesday evening for the last six weeks the Facilitation Team has provided a session on a variety of themes, including Women in Leadership in the Church and Synodality.
Each of these “Coffee Conversation” sessions, as we called them, were really an opportunity for all the 278 Members of the Plenary Council to engage in conversation with one another and get to know one another a little more, as well as practice the art of discernment in small groups, which is fundamental to the process being used during the days of the Assembly.
The Plenary Council is a wonderful opportunity for the Catholic Church in Australia to renew ourselves and face up to our current reality.
I became involved with the Plenary Council in January this year when I was asked to assume the role of Liaison Officer for the Plenary Council Working Group for the Archdiocese of Sydney. I work with parish leaders and parish-based ambassadors in planning and engagement, and in facilitating and raising awareness of the Plenary Council.
Throughout 2018 and 2019 the responses of the listening and dialogue groups were collated and a report for the Archdiocese was produced. Momentum was building ahead of the much-anticipated first session in October 2020. Then COVID-19 happened and lockdowns stalled the process.
Sr Chris Schwerdt gives an insight into the Plenary process at the local level after attending the Adelaide Diocesan Assembly, held over 17 and 18 September.
The Adelaide Diocesan Assembly was a very hopeful and enriching experience, involving more than 400 people, including seven Josephites and two Covenant Josephites. Parish representatives, migrant communities, schools, clergy, religious and Catholic agencies listened and shared their stories.
“World Teachers’ Day is held annually on 5 October to celebrate all teachers around the globe.” (UNESCO)
To commemorate this day, Sr Mary McDonnell interviews students and a teacher from St Justin’s Catholic Parish Primary School, Oran Park NSW in the school’s Mary MacKillop Prayer Garden.
We invite you to view the interview above.
Who could have imagined when we began the journey of 150 Days of Action for Refugees that we would be grieving for the beautiful country of Afghanistan? As we watched the Kabul airport fill with fear, bombs and those desperately seeking safety, we knew we were watching the beginning of life on the road for thousands of people.
This is why it is so important that we stay with the prayers, thoughts and political action necessary to change hearts and minds in our country Australia. Right now, the Australian community is deeply concerned about those we have left behind after 20 years in their country. The media is full of stories of those who need to find safety from the predation and politics of the Taliban and ISIS.