The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn recently launched the Year of the Holy Spirit 2023-2024, which builds upon the foundation laid during the previous Year of Walking Together.
Archbishop Christopher Prowse has invited all members of the Catholic community to open their hearts and minds to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and to allow the words of Acts 15:28 – “it seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit” – to animate their endeavours in the coming year (Catholic Voice, 2023). It is anticipated the Year of the Holy Spirit will conclude with an Archdiocesan Assembly.
Catholics in the Archdiocese have been asked to take time over the coming year to consider four themes identified by Archbishop Christopher. Encouraged to gather in small groups, referred to as “evangelisation circles”, Catholics will be able to look at the themes, pray and go out on the mission to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. A dedicated website provides resources to support reflection on the themes. They are:
1. What is evangelisation and how do we enflesh this in our place and time? This is a reminder to all the baptised that they are called to proclaim the Good News. The primary resource to be considered under this focus area is the Evangelisation statement recently published by the Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry.
2. The “way” we evangelise. The focus here is synodality or “walking together”, a theme emphasised by Pope Francis. The “way” we approach evangelisation should be synodal in nature and undertaken with a contemplative and Marian heart, that is, pondering and treasuring all that is shared with us. The Archbishop urges Catholics that, as they listen to their fellow faith journey travelers, to also listen deeply to the Holy Spirit who whispers into each one of them the dreams of God.
3. The Australian context. The Fifth Plenary Council of Australia articulated a number of decrees resulting from several years of prayer, consultation, deep listening, reflection and discernment. Catholics in the Archdiocese are invited to reflect on these decrees and to consider how they might respond to them. The resource Carrying Forward the Plenary Council: As we continue the journey together is recommended as a useful guide to aid communities in their consideration of this theme.
4. Archdiocesan history. Archbishop Prowse reminded all members of the Archdiocesan family that “we are not starting from scratch”. Former Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Francis Carroll implored all those who gathered for the Archdiocesan Synod in 2004, One in Christ Jesus, to “hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to our Church at this critical time of our history”. Catholics are encouraged to read Archbishop Carroll’s welcoming address to the Synod to reacquaint themselves with that moment in history and to reflect on how the Church in Canberra and Goulburn sought to know what God was calling them to be and do.
Resources on the website also include video presentations by Archbishop Prowse on the Catholic understanding of evangelisation and Clara Geoghegan, executive secretary to the Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry, on discerning spiritual gifts. Both these presentations would be useful formation tools for other Australian Catholic communities wanting to dive deeper into evangelisation and the discernment of charisms. Msgr John Woods and Huw Warmenhoven provide insights into how an Archdiocesan Assembly, as well as a diocesan pastoral council, might be approached.
The Fifth Plenary Council’s seventh decree – At the service of Communion, Participation, and Mission: Governance – offered an invitation to all Catholics in Australia to recognise the Holy Spirit’s gift of the sensus fidei (sense of the faith) in each baptised person, thus calling for the participation of the entire faithful in the mission of the Church and for dialogue within the Church and beyond.
The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn’s Year of the Holy Spirit is one way this invitation can be taken up. Indeed, a reflection on the scriptural passage chosen by the Archdiocese to guide their journey shows how members of the early Church gathered, prayed and then went out into the community to proclaim the Good News. Catholics across the country are invited to pray that as this journey unfolds, many people from the Archdiocese will be able to say, “It seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit”.
The Year of the Holy Spirit
Evangelisation: Encounter, Discipleship, Mission
Words: Sharon Brewer
 Carrying Forward the Plenary Council: As we continue the journey together, pp. 24-26.