Diocesan Synod to draw on National Governance Report

Reform of Diocesan and Parish governance was a strong call at the first session of the Maitland-Newcastle Synod on 23 November 2019.  Synod organisers have heard and are acting upon the call for governance that is more: inclusive, participatory, accountable, and humble.

A Governance Focus Group is currently evaluating Diocesan governance structures and processes and will prepare documents and recommendations for the next Synod session in 2021. The Focus Group has enthusiastically embraced the recently released national report on diocesan and parish governance “The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia”.

The national report was recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The 208 page report, which includes 86 recommendations, can be found on the Bishops Conference website.

Lawrie Hallinan, Chair of the Synod’s Governance Focus Group said:

The concerns and hopes expressed at our Diocesan Synod are echoed in many of the themes and recommendations of “The Light from the Southern Cross” report.

Some of the report’s recommendations are already established practice in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese e.g. a functioning Diocesan Pastoral Council (locally known as the Council for Mission) and a publicly available annual report (incl. financial report).

The Synod’s Governance Focus Group is comprised of clergy, senior Diocesan staff, and lay members. Lawrie Hallinan said:

The Governance Focus Group is grateful for the report’s theological explanations of governance which emphasise all the Baptised fulfilling their right and responsibility as missionary disciples.

As the Governance Focus Group continues preparing documents for the next session of Synod we see “The Light from the Southern Cross” report as a great resource.

The Governance Focus Group is one of several Focus or Working Groups that are preparing documents for the Synod’s 2021 sessions.

The Synod will take place over three sessions (Nov 2019, May 2021 and Nov 2021). The last Synod of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese was in 1992-1993. The current Synod has a pastoral focus and is drawing on the themes and contributions from the Diocese to the Listening and Dialogue phase of the Australian Plenary Council.

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Lawrie Hallinan Image
Lawrie Hallinan

Lawrie is a parishioner at Tighes Hill.