Prayerful solidarity with Australia’s First People
|Friendships in Christ...Fr Leo Wearden, a priest in Wadeye, NT, converses with an Aboriginal man and his child (photo: Bruce Dynan)|
“Fire is important to Aboriginal people and is the heart of Indigenous culture. It is the sign of the Holy Spirit that gives warmth, purifies, and brings many gifts.”
– Penitential Rite from NATSICC’s 2011 liturgical guide
Australia’s Catholics will join in prayerful solidarity with Australia’s First People on 3 July for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday 2011.
Dioceses and parishes will be able to draw from the liturgical materials prepared by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) for the occasion. NATSICC is the national body dealing exclusively with Indigenous issues within the Catholic Church.
Falling a few months before the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s address to Aboriginal people at Alice Springs, Catholic Mission’s National Director Martin Teulan said this year’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday is also an opportunity to reflect on the journey so far towards reconciliation.
“The Pope clearly saw the Catholic Church as a vehicle for social and spiritual infusion,” Mr Teulan said.
“The Holy Father told the First People ‘You are part of Australia and Australia is part of you - 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 ’.”
Mr Teulan said that since the Pope's address, the Church had undergone a cultural transformation.
“Today we acknowledge the traditional owners of the land. Elders welcome our guests into their country. In Dioceses, Aboriginal Catholic ministries and councils are significant forces for dialogue across the cultures,” Mr Teulan said.
“What remains to be achieved however is more of the giving and receiving we call friendship. Yes, true friendships will span any cultural bridge gap, no matter how wide.“Eighty per cent of Aborigines live in capital cities, not in remote areas. What efforts have we made to become friends? It is in the act of friendship that white Australians can become aware first-hand of the issues that concern Australia’s First Peoples.”
News Story: A new name for solidarity with First Australians
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