Executive Director’s Report Feb 2024: The Number one Priority of the Church in Australia and the World!

30 January 2024 by

Usually this report looks backward, at what has been happening in the last month.  But at the beginning of this new year, 2024, let’s look forward instead.

The number one Priority for the Church

Both the Plenary Council in Australia and the first assembly of the Synod on Synodality in Rome put forward the formation of lay people as the number one priority for the Catholic Church now and into the future.

Much of the work of AMPJP revolves around the formation of Canonical Stewards or Trustees, who oversee the mission of the Ministerial Public Juridic Persons.  These Stewards are generally highly experienced, dedicated Catholics, often having extensive leadership experience in large Catholic or private organisations as CEOs, Principals and Mission leaders.  We have senior professionals working in the wider community as well. But everyone of them needs continuing formation, to learn, to reflect, to pray, to discern, and to grow.


Not only at this level, but for the staff and students across many Catholic organisations, my experience is that the  formation offered is often very good, consistent and improving.  However there is one particular area where there appears to be less consistency, and that is in offering retreats.  Richard Rohr said of retreats: “Silence is the necessary space around things that allows them to develop and flourish without my pushing.”  

We need time to be refreshed. We need a time when our constant distractions are put on hold and we nourish our souls, our inner selves, our spirit and our relationship with God.  In following in the steps of members of religious orders, we remember that they, and also diocesan clergy, have an annual retreat as an essential part of their formation.  But for lay people working in the Church, depending on their role, and on the organisation, retreats may be an essential part of their formation, or not a part at all.

Retreats, usually more than one day, do require a greater commitment, both by participants and by sponsoring organisations. But they are more likely to be life-changing for participants than shorter formation times, especially those on the worksite or online.


Retreats all around Australia

To encourage participation by lay leaders in retreats, to take time out with God, this month we have added retreat programs from around Australia to our listing of formation events.  There will be many more, but even these give a remarkable opportunity to spend some time in some of the most beautiful settings in Australia, and to find God in our busy lives, We can find God in contemplation, in nature, in scripture, in conversation with others, in prayer, in the Eucharist, even in silence.

Retreats for all?

For those in senior leadership, do all your team members have an opportunity for a retreat as an essential part of their formation? If not, might they? Even many who are not Catholic, not people of faith, love a retreat experience. (think how popular the Camino now is with people who are not religious!)

And for you, working long and hard for the Mission, for others.  Do you ever have a time to refresh from the inside out?

If you haven’t planned one already, pamper your spiritual self with a retreat in 2024.  You will feel wonderful, enlivened, enriched and fulfilled. Check out these options…

Jesuit and Ignatian Spirituality Australia Retreats 2024

Heart of Life Centre Retreats

Sisters of St Joseph Retreat Centres

New Norcia Retreats and Study Courses

Santa Teresa Spirituality Centre Retreats

Santa Casa Retreats

The Hermitage Retreats

Jamberoo Abbey Retreats 2024

Janssen Retreat Centre – Karuna – Retreats


50 + Catholic formation events and Conferences – organise your 2024!

When you click on any of the retreat opportunities above, this will take you not only to retreats, but to a collection of all Catholic events and conferences for 2024. More than 50 opportunities for formation and leadership development are there, from opportunities for personal faith development to large conferences for the Catholic health, education and community services sectors.


Planning for the Future

The main priority for AMPJP in 2024 is to plan for the future.  The past decade has been a time of consolidation of newly formed MPJPS and of AMPJP itself, the latter being just over six years old.  Today MPJPs have an ever-increasing role in the ministry of the Catholic Church in Australia. Not only that, but the Plenary Council has asked AMPJP, as a key organised group of lay leaders in Australia, to help ensure the outcomes of the Plenary are delivered.  This perhaps reveals that there is no representative group  of lay people involved in Church governance, and AMPJP is being asked to fill that gap to an extent.

More and more, AMPJP is becoming what canon lawyer Sr Mary Wright IBVM described as a “third estate” in the Australian Church, alongside the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia.  But what does this mean for the future?  What contribution can and should MPJPs and AMPJP make not only to the development of MPJP ministries, but beyond that to the Church as a whole?  This will be a year of discovery, discussion and discernment, in conversation with others in our Church, perhaps leading to new directions for AMPJP.  CORMSAA, a work of AMPJP which brings together key educational leaders to support the work of MPJP and Religious Institute schools around Australia, will also be discerning the next step in its development.


Consultations for the next round of the Synod on Synodality

These consultations have been launched today, with processes working through the Dioceses to respond to the outcomes of the first Assembly, the “Synthesis” document.  There is also a call for best practice examples of Synodality in the Church in Australia.

With the most advanced lay Church governance structures in the world through our network of MPJPs, and the only peak body of MPJPs worldwide, there may be some key findings from our Australian and New Zealand experiences that are worth sharing with the worldwide Church through the Synod process.


All at AMPJP wish you a fulfilling, fruitful and blessed 2024!