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The Diocesan Coordinators for the Year of Grace met in Sydney in June 2013, a month after the completion of the Year of Grace.

They spent many hours reflecting on three questions:

  • What do you believe the Holy Spirit is calling the Church to be and to do?
  • What signs of hope and good news do you experience in our Church and world?
  • What do we really want to say to our bishops about the Year of Grace?

Their responses can be seen as particularly valuable, as the coordinators, perhaps more than anyone else, saw how the Year of Grace “happened”, on the ground in their diocese and their parishes.

The National Meeting of the Coordinators of the Year of Grace tried to answer three questions.

The following is a summary of the most frequently expressed responses.

What do you believe the Holy Spirit is calling the Church to be and to do?

Jesus first in all things

This was the phrase that elicited the greatest number of responses. Other similar phrases included:

simplicity, ‘back to basics’ à Jesus and the Scriptures”, and “to teach more clearly as Jesus taught”.

reaching out with compassion ”, “the poor and the marginalised

Again, Jesus is mentioned in the phrase “reaching out with compassion (Jesus), without concern for itself”. Similar thoughts were expressed as “hospitality, welcoming, connect, reaching out to those at edges of society”; “to be more humble and to consider the poor and marginalised – preferential option for the poor”, “to be humble and vulnerable in being truthful”, “a poor church for the poor”.

relationships ”, “sharing

These ideas were expressed in phrases such as “the family of God – focus on relationships rather than ‘don’t’s”; “value grandparents to pass on faith – helping parents to feel adequate to this task”; “continue sharing our stories of grace and faith”.

a listening church

“to be a listening Church – open to the Holy Spirit, expressed in dialogue in all areas of the church”; “listen to God speaking in our hearts, our communities and the broader church and the world”; “listen to their stories”.

What signs of hope and good news do you experience in our Church and world?

The most frequent response was “Pope Francis ”, specifically as “modelling simplicity, humility, authenticity”.

The Royal Commission was mentioned in various ways: “Royal Commission – the open conversation with the world (broken, abused humanity) and deep sense of healing that will be an outcome”; “prepared to face and embrace the hard stuff – moving on in faith”; “openness to admitting faults”.

Witness and strength of the laity – within the church and society”.

Other things mentioned

  • Young people being open to the Good News, looking for spirituality and faith – we need to be looking where they are looking
  • Increased interest in the RCIA “despite the outside storm”: and people requesting baptism for their children
  • Sense of unity among bishops
  • People’s experiences of grace are opened up and valued.

What do we really want to say to our bishops about the Year of Grace?

As each of the six table groups gave their summaries, each group began with the word “thanks ”. There was a remarkable unanimity – the first thing we all wanted to say to the bishops was “thank you”. Some of the phrases used were “invitation rather than prescription”, “thanks for your openness to the Spirit and your trust in your people”.

People felt strongly that “the model of leadership used in this initiative of the Year of Grace should be built upon and used in future initiatives”.

In varying ways, and using different metaphors, we hope that the momentum will be maintained : “Explore with us the vision of Pope Francis for our church, we trust you to continue in a process of re-orienting us to start afresh from Christ”; “don’t lose what the Year of Grace started – build on it”; “keep ‘starting afresh from Christ’ by maintaining a focus on Scripture, prayer and liturgical celebration”; “Keep the wave moving, harvest the energy”; “keep starting afresh from Christ, keep harvesting the fruits”.

The centrality of prayer: “Come and pray with us, let us pray with you, teach us to pray”.

Other things mentioned

  • Adapt the National Prayer for continued use to sustain the church as we enter challenging times …
  • You have so much to offer: be courageous
  • Develop a process to help the church in Australia to be a ‘listening church’
  • And, as noted strongly in answer to the first question, above: “Keep Jesus front and centre of all decision making”, “Remember Jesus is the alpha and omega”.

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