On the feast of Pentecost 2021, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli invited us on a journey of reimagining our local Church in Melbourne as a series of ‘mission communities’. In the face of many challenges, this invitation, called Take the Way of the Gospel, asks us to be open to how we might reframe our current way of doing things so as to proclaim the Gospel anew today.

In outlining his vision, Archbishop Comensoli proposed that:

This is the beginning of a way of thinking and acting that will involve us all—bishops, clergy and laity. It will be a journey of listening and learning and walking together. Bring it to prayer; begin to talk to one another; open your hearts to where the Lord is calling us; reach out to your neighbours in faith.

Over the course of April and May 2023, four Leading for Mission consultation sessions, one in each geographical region, were held in parishes across the Archdiocese as part of the Take the Way of the Gospel process, with 80 per cent of parishes represented.

One of the distinctive things about these sessions was the methodology adopted. Each session used what is called the ‘World Café’ method of conversation. After some time in prayer calling upon the Holy Spirit to guide the discussion, several rounds of small-group conversation were held, with participants reflecting and responding to particular questions.

Each time participants shifted small groups, they would report to the new group what they had heard in the previous one, a process allowing people not only to share but to learn how to listen deeply to, and re-articulate, what was being said by others.

It proved to be an excellent model for facilitating meaningful conversation with large groups of people, and 78 per cent of people indicated they were happy with the experience.

The following report is the result of these consultations, which invited and called our clergy and lay leaders to listen, learn and walk together. We invite you to read the document for yourself, to see what the emerging themes were and to pray for your local communities of grace in Melbourne, reflecting on how we might take up the call of Pope Francis—the call of our baptism and of the Gospel—to become ‘protagonists of the mission’ in our own time and place.