An inclusive faith community

During this term I have been interviewing families for 2020 enrolment and I have learned a lot about the different categories of Catholic faith: "Raised Catholic", "Born Catholic", "Uncle goes to church every week Catholic" and many, many more. It is more often said with a tinge of embarrassment, but there is no need to feel uncomfortable. CBC Fremantle is an inclusive Catholic school in the tradition of Edmund Rice. There are no second division members of our community, just a request to embrace our values and vision for helping parents to form the CBC gentleman. The reality with all Catholic schools nowadays is that for most families it is the school that is their only link to the church. This is all the more reason for CBC to be inclusive and use this responsibility to try and bring Christ to the centre of a boy's life. As I have written in previous Newsletters, bringing a boy closer to goodness brings him closer to God.

During the term we celebrated Diversity Day, highlighting the fact that we are an inclusive community, and Diversity was the theme of our recent Professional Development day. Every boy and every family should feel safe in our community and we continue to redouble our efforts to achieve this goal. That we become so diverse that church-going Catholics and people of deep faith disappear would be a sad reflection on what has become a secularised society. As I wrote earlier this year, I fully understand there has been plenty happening that would drive people away from organised religion, and the Catholic Church continues to try to right wrongs and learn from past mistakes, especially through the works of Pope Francis. Despite these mistakes, I repeat that the only place I hear the message of love, compassion, empathy, peace, harmony and hope is at Father John Sebastian's homilies.

During Mass last week, after a deep conversation with a couple of colleagues about the direction of the church, it seemed a Holy Spirit moment when the Mass began with the following:

Pope Francis has given his approval for the Catholic Church in Australia to hold the first Plenary Council in Australia since 1937.

  A Plenary Council is the most significant national gathering that can be held and in approving the 2020 Plenary Council, Pope Francis also endorsed the Bishops' nomination of Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB as the President of the Plenary Council.

  Archbishop Costelloe said he holds great hope that the Council will bring about a period of authentic renewal.

  "This is a significant moment for the Catholic Church in Australia and I look forward to walking with the people of God as we look towards the future," Archbishop Costelloe said.

  "I encourage all Catholics, whether devout or disillusioned, fervent or frustrated, to seize this opportunity to speak what is on their minds and in their hearts," he said.

  Plenary Council facilitator, Lana Turvey-Collins, said she is inspired by the many faith-filled people across the country who have shared their hopes for the Church with her during a series of planning meetings.

  "People are both curious and passionate about how all people – particularly people who are marginalised, vulnerable or distant from the Church – can be part of preparing for the Plenary Council," she said.

  "The process of listening and dialogue, beginning at Pentecost 2018, will help form the agenda for the Plenary Council. It's a chance for us all to learn to become a truly listening Church. All people are invited to share their story of faith, of life and of their experience of the Church."

  A new website for the Plenary Council was also launched this week, with the aim helping people better understand how they can participate in the process.

  "Signing up to the e-newsletter and the Plenary Council social media channels is the best way to stay up-to-date with local and national activity for Plenary Council," Mrs Turvey-Collins said.

  Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council Chair, said Australian Bishops are deeply grateful to Pope Francis for affirming the decision.

  "We ask all people to join in prayer as we embark on this journey together as God's people in Australia," he said.

  The Council will be a unique opportunity for people to come together and listen to God in all the ways God speaks to us, and in particular by listening to one another as together we discern what God is asking of us at this time – a time when the Church in Australia is facing significant challenges.

  We sincerely hope the preparation and celebration of the Plenary Council is a time when all parts of the Church listen to and dialogue with one another as we explore together how we might answer the question: 'What do you think God is asking of us in Australia?'

It is a great question: What do you think God is asking of us? This is an opportunity for all Catholics to have a say. This is a watershed moment for the Church to consult and unite around all its members, especially some of those I referred to at the start of the Newsletter. This is a chance for the Church to re-unite with its flock, or its flock to re-unite with their Church. I strongly encourage as many people as possible to participate in the process and look forward to the Plenary in 2020. Further information can be found at the Plenary 2020 website, or you can call me directly on 0400 880 861.

In the interim, I put the call out to all our community, regardless of your Catholicity, to attend our first of two 2018 Family Masses at St. Patrick's Basilica this Saturday at 6.00pm. It is always a beautiful Mass and a great reflection of our community. If you have attended in the past, I look forward to seeing you again. If you have never attended, please consider it. CBC Fremantle gentlemen singing in the choir; CBC Fremantle gentlemen providing the music; CBC Fremantle gentlemen doing the readings; CBC Fremantle gentlemen in the congregation and CBC Fremantle families united in perfect harmony.

Mr Domenic Burgio