Prayers for the Plenary Council 2020

Plenary Council 2020

Plenary 2020 is the name given to a process initiated by the Australian Catholic bishops who are inviting
people to engage in listening, dialogue and discernment about the future of the Church in
Australia around the Plenary Council meetings in 2020 and 2021.

A Plenary Council is the highest form of gathering that a church in a particular country can
have. It is an opportunity for the voices of all the People of God in Australia, laity and ordained
alike, to be heard. The last major assembly for the Catholic Church of Australia took place
more than eighty years ago in 1937.

A Plenary Council has legislative power, i.e. the final decisions of a plenary council become law
and have binding power. The responsibility of making these decisions falls on the conference
of bishops, who do so only after discerning the will of the Holy Spirit with the people.

Friends in Christ,

With the permission of His Grace, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, I would like to invite you in joining with me in arranging a spiritual bouquet of 1000 Masses to be offered for the intentions of the Plenary Council and for all those involved. When the donation bar reaches $13,000 

Mr Bernard Toutounji, National Director ACN Australia.

Bernard Headshot HighRes from LinkedInCircle

As many of you who have been journeying with ACN for any length of time would have come to understand is that arranging Masses in support of poor priests is a major part of our mandate and mission. Of course, as Catholics we know the power of the Mass, and what it means to offer a Mass. Perhaps you might consider arranging a special Mass for Plenary Council and for the Church in Australia. Your generous Mass offering will support our poor priests in places such as Venezuela, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and more.




Prayer and bouquet of Masses during the coronavirus pandemic

Dear Friends, 

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When we welcomed in 2020, none of us imagined that our security and freedom would be shaken by a pandemic. For the vast majority, this situation of rationed food, severe unemployment and boarded-up cities is something we have never seen. To add to the pain, our churches have been locked and we are cut off from the very sacraments that give us life.

We are being asked to distance ourselves from others, yet this feeling of being cut off and alone can cause fear and unrest, even in those of faith. In an address on 15 March, Pope Francis stated that it is precisely because of this necessary isolation that, “we are invited to rediscover the value of the communion that unites all the members of the Church”. He went on to say, “united in Christ we are never alone, but we form one body, of which He is the head”. No matter what happens we need to recall the words of the Psalmist, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid” (118:6)

As people of faith, we believe in the power of prayer. And at this time there is so much to pray for; those who have contracted COVID-19, those who have lost their jobs, those who are scared, those who lead us, those who we love, and those who have died as a result of the virus.

As a spiritual and pastoral foundation, we at Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) have asked ourselves what we can do. We have discerned that we can, and must, encourage prayer. As the most powerful prayer is the Mass - and since for over fifty years, ACN has arranged Masses on behalf of poor priests - we are building a spiritual bouquet of Masses to implore the heavenly Father and our Blessed Mother to be with us all in this time. The custom of Mass offerings dates back to the second century and is a tangible sign of the spiritual and material dependence we Christians have on one another. Every year ACN supports over 40,000 priests with 1.5 million Mass offerings.

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I invite you to join us in building up this bouquet by arranging at least one Mass (and sharing this page with others). Each Mass will be offered by a poor priest with no other means of support and your entire Mass offering amount will be sent to that priest. The priest will offer the Mass for the intentions of the benefactor, which in this case will be for our nation and world during this time of crisis. The reason we offer these Masses as part of a bouquet is because the power of prayer is multiplied when united. It is as if each person brings a single rose, yet when combined, the beauty is shared and enjoyed by all. Especially while we are deprived of the opportunity to attend Mass and receive the Lord in Holy Communion, this bouquet allows us the opportunity to unite ourselves in a particular way to the graces of the Mass.

God bless you.

Bernard Toutounji
National Director | Aid to the Church in Need Australia


Prayer during the coronavirus pandemic
(adapted from the USCCB)

Mary, Help of Christians. We fly to you today as your beloved children. We ask you to intercede for us with your Son, as you did at the wedding in Cana.


Pray for us, loving Mother, and gain for our nation and world, and for all our families and loved ones, the protection of God’s holy angels, that we may be spared the worst of this illness.

For those already afflicted, we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance. Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful, wipe away their tears and help them to trust.

In this time of trial and testing, teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind. Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.

We come to you with confidence, knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother, health of the sick and cause of our joy. Shelter us under the mantle of your protection, keep us in the embrace of your arms, help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Download the prayer card here.

Pope Francis also has a prayer to Mary during the coronavirus pandemic that you can download here.


Join our spiritual bouquet of Masses during the coronavirus pandemic




A Message from National Director Mr Bernard Toutounji

This message was published with Mirror 2 - 2020 - it is published online (for those who elect to receive The Mirror newsletter via email and not a printed copy in the post).



ACN logo


Dear friend in Christ,

This edition of the Mirror brings to our minds and hearts those men and women religious who have left all to follow Christ. Still today, congregations of Brothers and Sisters go out to share and nourish the faith on every continent. Their own lives though are not easy, many of these communities struggle to provide for themselves.

What struck me in reading the Mirror is that these men and women do not give up. They trust in the Lord, in His call upon their lives, and in His providence. Of course, the providence of the Lord most often comes through the hands of others.

Each year - and only with your help - Aid to the Church in Need is able to support some 11,000 religious men and women to live their vocation. Can you help us to support the Sisters and Brothers who take our faith out to the world?  Could you commit to a monthly offering?


During Lent and Easter, Aid to the Church in Need will honour and remember modern martyrs, those who heroically offered their lives for God and their communities. All the testimonies in the ACN Lent Calendar and the video testimonies below are from the 21st-century, they are a witness to the dedication of our brothers and sisters in faith. This Lent calendar has been created to show our gratitude and admiration of them.

National Director of ACN Australia, Mr Bernard Toutounji said. "Reading the ACN Lent calendar and watching these modern martyrs stories is a powerful, emotional and spiritual experience. To read of those that loved Christ so much, who followed his Word so closely that they have given their own lives in order to share Christ with others causes you to reflect on your own Faith. What can I learn from these extraordinary examples of love? How will reading these stories change my own priorities in life? In the Season of Lent where Catholics are encouraged to pray, fast and give alms. I hope this Lent calendar will be a catalyst to prayer and action. Also, I would encourage you if you have the means to give a financial gift to Aid to the Church in Need this Lent so we can continue to support the communities that these martyrs were forced to leave behind".

You can donate to our Lent campaign via the donation form below or by calling 1800 101 201 (AEDT) during business hours. Your donation will be directed towards our projects most in need. Our 9 project areas include - support for religious sisters, training of priests and seminarians, Mass offerings for poor priests, emergency assistance for Christian refugees, distribution of bibles, education of catechists, construction of churches and church facilities, providing transport for pastoral care and providing media support to share the faith.


Watch these powerful videos, which tell the stories of 4 martyrs. Click on the images below and a new window will open:





This year Aid to the Church in Need has created two resources for your own journey through Lent. Click the images below to view our 2020 Lent Calendar and the Stations of the Cross resource. The Lent calendar contains 47 powerful stories, we know that can be a lot to read at once, so if you would like an easy way to digest all the content in the Lent calendar you can subscribe to our Lenten email series as we "Journey with the Martyrs" you will receive 8 emails the first on Ash Wednesday then one every Sunday of Lent until Easter Sunday. 


Click here.

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 Any donations over $25 can opt-in to receive a free Via Crucis booklet (The Way of the Cross). The booklet features the fifteen Stations of the Cross accompanied by a quotation from the Gospel, a meditation on the will of God, written by Fr Joaquin Alliende-Luco, and illustrations by Bradi Barth. Booklet dimensions: 116mm x 149mm, 40 pp, softback.





A Message from National Director Mr Bernard Toutounji

This message was published with Mirror 1 - 2020 - it is published online (for those who elect to receive The Mirror newsletter via email and not a printed copy in the post).

ACN logo


Dear friend in Christ,

Greetings to you in this New Year! I hope your celebration of the Lord’s Nativity was a time of grace and renewed spiritual strength for you and those you love. Intermingled with the joy of the season, has been the devastating situation of drought and bushfire. So many of our fellow Australians, including our own ACN benefactors, continue to suffer as a result. We have arranged Masses to be offered for those that have lost their lives, homes and livelihoods, and we pray for much-needed rain. You might join your intentions to ours at this time.

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