Students present their vision for the Church

Brisbane Catholic high school students at the student plenary assembly at Brigidine College, Indooroopilly (The Catholic Leader/Mark Bowling)

Young people attending Australia's first student plenary assembly in Brisbane have identified greater inclusion for women and a need for tech-savvy priests as key issues for the Church today. Source: The Catholic Leader.

“We are facing a crisis and we want to face it together, because the Catholic Church is important for Australia as a whole,” Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said at the recent assembly, encouraging participating students to enter into a communal discernment about the direction of the Church in Australia. “We have to try and meet the challenge together.”

Seven Brisbane Catholic schools took part in the pilot event held at Brigidine College, Indooroopilly, with the format to be used to shape larger student plenary assemblies early next year, as part of the journey towards the first session of National Plenary Council in October 2020.

The guiding scripture for the pilot plenary assembly was: 1 Timothy 4:12 – “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity”.

Put to the test, students split into groups for an initial session to start considering two questions – “What does ‘inclusive’ look like, sound like and feel like to you?”, and “What does ‘participatory’ look like, sound like and feel like to you?”

They returned a number of key messages jotted on sticky notes. “Make mental health less of a taboo”, “Be respectful of choices that people make (ie abortions)”, and “Openness or support for single parents and teenage mothers”, and “Everyone’s opinion matters” were among the replies.

During a second discernment session, the issues facing the Church were further discussed and students identified greater inclusion and equality for women and a need for priests to improve their ICT skills and “use technology to increase young people’s engagement” during the homily.

It was suggested ICT skills form a greater part of seminary training, while priests should refresh their skills every three years.

Following the Brisbane pilot, plenary organisers intend following up with two Queensland sessions with Year 11 students early next year. All group responses received from the student assemblies will be submitted to the national writing groups that are developing draft papers for the Plenary Council in October 2020.


Brisbane students tell Plenary Council planners what they want for the Church (The Catholic Leader)

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