Soul Searching in Light of the Plenary Council: A time of prayer and discussion

Not since the time of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s has the Catholic Church in Australia undergone such a profound period of prayerful soul searching.

The Plenary Council will have a huge impact on every area of Church activity – the provision of social services will be no exception.

The stakes are high – the Catholic Church is largest non-government provider of social and education services in Australia.

Catholic Social Services Victoria (CSSV) has recently distributed a discussion paper What does the Lord require of you? – Micah 6:8 released to encourage focus and attention on key areas of priority for our Australian Catholic Church.

Some of the emerging themes include:

  • A Church not just for the poor – but with the poor
  • Seeing the overlooked – caring for the stranger in contemporary Australia
  • Building common pastoral action – from Church agencies to the local Parish.

CSSV will also have circulated a document in response to the 1st June released Framework for Motions for the second assembly.

Join us on Friday 1 July for a time of reflective prayer at 8.30am, followed by a vital discussion led by an inspiring array of leaders and experts in the field from 9am –10am.

8.30am-9am               Time of reflective prayer led by Sr Joan Healy rsj and Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR

9am-10am                  ‘Catholic social services in the context of the Plenary Council’ – Forum

Introduction: Bernie Cronin – Chair of the Council, Catholic Social Services Victoria.

Taking a wide view:

  • Considering Catholic social services’ reality and imagining our future Church in the context of an Australian Plenary Council – Fr Fred Kammer, SJ, Immediate past Executive Director, Jesuit Social Research Institute, Loyola University New Orleans (former President of Catholic Charities USA 1992 – 2001).

Discerning responses:

  • Social justice, Process and the Plenary Council – Dr Sandie Cornish, Director of the Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
  • Catholic social services and the Plenary Council – Julie Edwards, Chief Executive Officer, Jesuit Social Services.

Followed by discussions and questions from the Zoom room floor.


Bernie Cronin

Bernie is Chair of Catholic Social Services Victoria (CSSV). He has extensive senior management experience in local government and voluntary activities, including State Emergency Services. Bernie’s qualifications are in company directorship, business, human resources, social policy and youth work. He has extensive Governance experience across non-Government and Government entities, including in Social Infrastructure Planning.

Dr Sandie Cornish

Dr Sandie Cornish is a practitioner in the field of Catholic Social Teaching.  She leads the Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and is a sessional lecturer with the Australian Catholic University, and with BBI-TAITE. Sandie is a member of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development and is one of the periti for the Fifth Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia.

Dr Julie Edwards

Julie Edwards has been CEO of Jesuit Social Services since 2004. Julie has over 35 years of experience engaging with marginalised people and families experiencing breakdown and trauma. She is a social worker, family therapist and a grief and loss counsellor. Julie has a Masters in Social Work and has recently completed a PhD in organisational identity and how this is shaped by and shapes work and culture.

Fr Fred Kramer, SJ

From 2002 to 2008, Fr. Kammer was provincial superior for the Jesuits of the New Orleans Province. He served as president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, the nation’s largest voluntary social service network, from 1992 to 2001. From 1990 to 1992 he was policy advisor for health and welfare issues at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. From 1984 to 1989, he was the executive director of Catholic Community Services of Baton Rouge, and he served as director of the Senior Citizens Law Project of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society from 1977 to 1983. A native of New Orleans, he has been a board member of Georgetown University and Loyola University New Orleans.

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