Engage with Aboriginal identity: FitzGerald

L-R: Fr Don Benedetti MGL, Sally FitzGerald and Noreen Dick. Photo: John McLaurin.

L-R: Fr Dan Benedetti MGL, Sally FitzGerald and Noreen Dick. Photo: John McLaurin.

SALLY FITZGERALD has called for a greater influence of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in the Catholic Church of Australia.

Speaking in the lead-up to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday and also NAIDOC Week (July 8 to 15), she said now is the time to bring about change.

Mrs FitzGerald is the Archdiocesan representative at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Catholic Council (NATSICC).

She said this can be the beginning of a greater appreciation of the Aboriginal culture among the Catholic Church.

“For many years now all that the Aboriginals are called to do is the Welcome to Country or a Smoking Ceremony,” she said.

“We need to sit down with some key people in order to see what we can do moving forward, but I think it can be an exciting time in the Church if we embrace and engage with our Aboriginal identity more-so.”

She also wished to remind everyone of St Pope John Paul II’s words to Indigenous Australians at Alice Springs in 1986 which reads:

‘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.’ St Pope John Paul II

Stations of the Cross

Last month Mrs FitzGerald was instrumental in attaining framed prints of Aboriginal Stations of the Cross at St Benedict’s Parish in Narrabundah.

“The originals were painted by Richard Campbell,” she said.

“They’re well worth going for a look, they’re absolutely marvellous.”

The Narrabundah Parish again held the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday Mass as a Vigil Mass. Archbishop Christopher Prowse was the principal celebrant and he thanked all those who contributed to it.

The Mass began with a Traditional Smoking Ceremony in which parishioners were encouraged to walk through the white smoke as a purification. The Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country was led by Ngunnawal Elder, Mrs Caroline Hughes.

Archbishop Prowse was assisted at Mass by Missionaries of God’s Love priest, Fr Daniel Benedetti MGL. Fr Benedetti himself, only arrived in Canberra in February. He was in Darwin for the eight years prior and said he thoroughly enjoyed his time being among the First Nations people.  Fr David Lemewu MGL, played the keyboard and playing the Didgeridoo alongside him was Mr Tony Liston, a member of the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry.

The Aboriginal Our Father was sung with gusto, while Fr Lemewu also provided a sung version of the Aboriginal Prayer of Healing which he says he composed 15 years ago.

Catholic Education Indigenous Officer, Mrs Kerry O’Callaghan read the first and second reading was read by the Chairperson of the Torres Strait Islander Corporation, Mrs Samantha Faulkner.

Mrs FitzGerald praised the theme of this year’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday ‘Because of her we can’.

The ‘her’ is a reference to the strong women in our lives – our mothers, daughters, aunties, grandmothers, sisters – and also to Mary, Mother of God.

More information

To read more about the theme of this year’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday go to http://www.natsicc.org.au/index.html

Registrations are now open on the website for the 2018 NATSICC Assembly which is taking place in Perth from October 1 to 5.

Catholic Education is holding a NAIDOC Week Mass at St Christopher’s Cathedral on July 6.

For more information about NAIDOC Week go to http://www.naidoc.org.au/

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