Representatives drawn from a wide-cross section of the Church
Twenty Sydney delegates will represent the Archdiocese of Sydney at the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia due to commence on 1 October.
They represent all states of life in the Church, from laity to bishops, parish priests, theologians, philosophers and religious, men and women.
Four of the delegates have been selected as representative of the laity: they are Chris Lee, team leader for the Archdiocese’s Catholic youth office, Selina Hasham, from the Archdiocese’s Office of the Episcopal Vicar for Formation, prominent marriage and family advocate Francine Pirola and ACU Deputy Vice Chancellor Dr Hayden Ramsay.
The announcement of Delegates appointed to represent Australia’s Catholics at the Plenary came from Plenary Council president Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB of Perth on Tuesday.
“At a time in our Church’s history we’ve not seen before, with the suspension of Masses across the country and around the world, the announcement of our Plenary Council delegates is a source of great joy for the People of God in Australia,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
Canon law outlines those who must be called as delegates to a plenary council, including bishops, vicars general, episcopal vicars, heads of seminaries and theological institutions, and leaders of religious congregations. That added up to 180 delegates.
Canon law also allows for delegates who may be called as representatives – the total of which can’t exceed half of the total of those who must be called.
The number of delegates from each local church – a diocese, eparchy, ordinariate or personal prelature – ranged from one to four depending on the local Catholic population. In all, 78 people have so far been confirmed, with additional representation to be named from national organisations representing education, social services, health and aged care, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics.
Lay leaders ‘blessed’ to be selected
Sydney delegate Chris Lee, team leader of Sydney Catholic Youth told The Catholic Weekly he felt humbled to have been chosen.
“I feel very privileged to be able to represent the Archdiocese of Sydney at the Plenary Council and to be selected by Archbishop Anthony as one of his delegates, being so young as well – I’m 26,” he said.
“At the Plenary I’m hoping to be able to raise finding new ways to evangelise at the same time as holding on to the foundations of the faith and its fundamental truths.”
Ms Hasham said she felt blessed to have been chosen.
“It’s been a privilege to Chair one of the six national Writing and Discernment groups as we play our role in preparing the Plenary Council papers for the bishops,” she told The Catholic Weekly.
“My theme (Humble, Healing and Merciful) deals with the pain of the Church including the sexual abuse crisis. Though this is a deathly dark chapter in our story, many are showing, including some of the brave survivors, that we have an incredible opportunity to heal and project hope for the future.
“The Council is a genuine impulse to listen to what the Spirit is saying”
“I recognise the Plenary Council is a genuine impulse to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Church in Australia and I wish to serve in a way that helps the very best response to emerge,” she said.
Archbishop Costelloe said that bishops across the country had worked locally with leaders in their diocese to design a process to consider names of people who were nominated or applied to be delegates for the Plenary Council assemblies.”
“We were grateful for and impressed with the faith and the calibre of the people who were nominated. We could quite easily have filled several quotas with the names that were put forward.”
He said bishops were mindful of the large number of clerics who must be called by virtue of their role. There were also many males who will represent religious orders.
“It was therefore important to prioritise lay people – and especially lay women – in the list of those local delegates who were chosen,” he said.
“It was also obvious that while not universal, the age of those who must be called was quite high. We are pleased that we were able to lower the average age, lift the proportion of lay people and the proportion of women in the overall delegate list.
“Plenary councils have often been the domain of bishops and priests and while canon law still ensures they are the major presence in the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, the lay and female representation far surpasses anything seen before.”
Among the list of delegates who may be called already selected, 64 per cent are women while the average age of those delegates is 48 – with the youngest just 19 years old.
Click for the full list of delegates. From the Archdiocese of Sydney, they are:
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP
Sydney’s Vicar General, Fr Gerald Gleeson
Francine Pirola, prominent Sydney laywoman, family and marriage advocate
ACU Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Hayden Ramsay
Selina Hasham, office of Episcopal Vicar for formation
Sydney Catholic Youth coordinator Chris Lee
Bishop Richard Umbers
Bishop Terry Brady
Fr Isidore Anantharaj, parish priest of Mater Dei Blakehurst and St Raphael Hurstville South
Fr Kelvin Lovegrove of St Joseph’s Parish, Maroubra
Fr Michael McLean from St Mark’s in Drummoyne
Fr Paul Monkerud Episcopal Vicar
Good Shepherd Seminary Rector Fr Danny Meagher
Redemptoris Mater Seminary Rector Fr Eric George Skruzny
Professor Dermot Nestor, Executive Dean of Theology and Philosophy at ACU
Professor Isabell Naumann ISSM, President of the Catholic Institute of Sydney
Professor Michele Riondino, Professor of Canon Law at ACU
Professor Renee Kohler-Ryan, Dean of Philosophy and Theology at Notre Dame’s Broadway campus
Dr Rohan Curnow, Academic Dean and Deputy President of the Catholic Institute
Professor Greg Craven, Vice Chancellor of ACU