Moving Mass celebrates Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Sunday
Original article: CatholicCare Social Services - Diocese of Parramatta
Aboriginals, Torres Strait Islanders, Pacific Islanders and the wider Catholic community celebrated a moving Mass for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Sunday at the Holy Family Centre Emerton on 1 July.
The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, was the Principal Celebrant at the Mass, which also coincided with the launch of the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week locally. Bishop Anthony was assisted by Holy Family Mt Druitt Parish Priest, Father Edward Dooley SJ.
“The first ones, who know best the heavens and earth”
This was the first time the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta had celebrated Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Sunday as a Diocese.
It will now be celebrated annually, symbolising the unity of purpose within the Catholic community.
Local Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders organised this year’s event, with the entire Aboriginal community present at the Mass, involved in the liturgy and the festivities afterwards.
In his homily, Bishop Anthony said the Parramatta Diocese was graced to have the largest concentration of urban Indigenous people of any Diocese in Australia. He also identified the common symbolism of water and fire.
Bishop Anthony's powerful homily from Mk 5:21-43 drew on the inherent oneness between Indigenous and non-Indigenous believers:
“Our word Aborigine means from the beginning. The first ones: the ones who know best the heavens and earth, the skies and seas and land, and the creatures therein,” Bishop Anthony said.
“From the beginning, too, they were made to receive the Christ. ‘You are a part of Australia and Australia is a part of you’, said Blessed John Paul II. ‘And the Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others’.”
The Mass also provided the opportunity to pray and reflect on the Aboriginal Prayer composed for the meeting between Pope John Paul II and Indigenous people in 1986:
Father of all, you gave us the Dreaming
You have spoken to us through our beliefs
You then made your love clear to us in the person of Jesus
We thank you for your care
You own us
You are our hope
Make us strong as we face the problems of change
We ask you to help the people of Australia to listen to us and respect our culture
Make the knowledge of you grow strong in all people
So that you can be at home in us and we can make a home for everyone in our land.
During the Mass, local identities Gina Phineas and Christine Kennedy paraded the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Flags. They were supported by the lyric choristers of the Pacific Island community parishioners in a true blending of cultures.
“Never too late for social justice and making amends”
The celebrations for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Sunday following the Mass included an Aboriginal ‘native’ aka Tony, who played the didgeridoo, told some stories and shared important information about Aboriginal culture.
Kallico, an Aboriginal owned and operated enterprise, provided very popular bush tucker food for the celebrations following the Mass.
Indigenous players from the Greater Western Sydney Giants Australian Football League Club conducted a highly successful clinic for the young - and young at heart - who attended.
Aboriginal Elder and Aboriginal Catholic Services Assistant Senior Manager Aunty Janice Kennedy said the local Indigenous community was delighted to have Bishop Anthony celebrate the Mass.
"We really appreciate Bishop Anthony’s commitment. It certainly was a great honour to our local Indigenous community,” Aunty Janice said.
Aunty Janice was part of further NAIDOC Week activities organised by Aboriginal Catholic Services (a part of CatholicCare Social Services - Diocese of Parramatta [CCSS]), including the Koori Women Yarn About Health series.
CCSS Executive Director Otto Henfling said it was “never too late for social justice and making amends.”
"Aboriginal Catholic Services is an important part of our work,” Otto said.
"Those who use its services and deliver its services and are our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Long and rightful connection between parish and Indigenous community
Read Bishop Anthony’s Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Sunday Mass Homily
Go to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Sunday Mass Photo Gallery
Koori women’s health program at Aboriginal Catholic Services
Visit Aboriginal Catholic Services at CCSS
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