|In St Mary Pataxte Parish in Guatemala, people walk up to two hours from neighbouring villages to receive Communion.|
As we celebrate World Mission Day on Sunday 23 October, we are encouraged to hear the voice of our Indigenous brothers and sisters in Guatemala and here in Australia, celebrating their Indigenous Catholic faith, their unique culture, language and spiritual traditions.
Throughout October, (World Mission Month 2011), Pope Benedict XVI has invited all Catholics around the world to go and proclaim the Gospel to all peoples – to stand in solidarity with them as part of the Universal Church.
“Hear My Voice” is Catholic Mission's theme for this year’s World Mission Month, where we hear the voices of the world’s indigenous peoples and celebrate their contribution that enriches our Universal Catholic Faith.
Catholic Mission has the responsibility of promoting a dignified and fruitful celebration of World Mission Day around the world.
“This World Mission Sunday is about unity,” Catholic Mission’s National Director Mr Martin Teulan said.
“At Catholic Mission, we form Australians for mission and raise funds for mission, in Australia and around the world.
“The World Mission Day appeal helps sustain parishes and their priests, and supports thousands of catechists who share their faith and lead their local village communities.
“We ask you to give generously for the cause of bringing about God’s kingdom on Earth through the work of missionaries and local people working together in places where resources are few but great acts of faith and humanity happen every day.”
St Mary Pataxte Guatemala: a shelter for all
The parish of St Mary Pataxte in the Guatemalan village of Chapin Arriab began in September 2010.
|Father Guillermo De Paz Sagastume -growing the faith in Guatemala.|
“We think of ourselves like a green stick in the jungle,” Father Guillermo De Paz Sagastume said.
“If you push it into the ground the rain will make the stick take root. In time, it will grow into a great shady tree able to shelter everyone in all weathers.”
The parish is currently engaged in building the church, meeting rooms and the dormitory where catechists will stay.
The aim is that the parish will be a regional training centre, able to accommodate people in overnight training sessions.
The Church in Guatemala is a lay church. There are not enough priests for all the parishes so great importance is placed on Christian formation and training of catechists. This formation and catechumenal materials is financially supported by Catholic Mission. One training session will attract as many as 500 participants, many walking hours to reach the centre and needing meals and overnight accommodation.
Wadeye NT: Strong in culture, identity and faith
The largest remote Aboriginal community in Australia is Wadeye (formerly known as Port Keats), located in the Northern Territory.
|Teaching the Murrinh Patha language throughout a student’s school years is a strong indicator of future educational and career success, says Sr Tess Ward, pictures left, with one of the teachers, Francella Bunduk.|
There are about 3,000 people living in this remote Aboriginal community, all of whom are Catholic. The local parish priest, Father Leo Wearden MSC, is stationed in Wadeye and his living costs are funded by Catholic Mission. He attends to both the pastoral needs of the town, and the outlying bush communities.
Fr Wearden is often accompanied by Indigenous Catholic leaders Angela Ninnal and Carmelita Perdjert, who form part of the group of respected elders in their community. Using their own language and culture, they witness to their community how God loves them and wants them to live so that generations to come truly value themselves as Aboriginal Catholics, strong in culture and identity and strong in faith.
Both Angela and Carmelita are students at the Nungalinya Theological College in Darwin. The Anglican, Lutheran and Catholic Churches conjointly run the ecumenical theological college, supported in part by the Diocese of Darwin and Catholic Mission. Both Angela and Carmelita travel from Wadeye to Darwin – a 30-minute flight – for four weeks each year to gain their ‘Certificate III in Liturgy and Ministry’.
Nungalinya College caters to 280 Aboriginal students who come from all over the country, some from as far away as south-eastern Australia.The name ‘Nungalinya’ comes from the name of a reef that lies off the Casuarina Beach in Darwin, where the college is located. The local people suggested the name for the college from the rock, as the rock is an important part of both the local dreaming and the Christian understanding of the Rock of Faith.
Be inspired on World Mission Day on Sunday 23 October to Hear My Voice and share your faith with the world. Please give generously: Freecall 1800 257 296 or visit www.catholicmission.org.au