Gratitude and prayers for our diverse and free country

As many Catholics around the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn marked the national day by attending mass, we asked our community what they cherish about Australia and what they hope for the future.

Selina Walker, chair of Catholic School Parents Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn and proud Ngunnawal woman 
What are you grateful for in Australia?
I’m grateful to be alive in a free country and appreciate all of Australia’s flora and fauna. This is my country as an aboriginal person, and I am grateful for all the opportunities here in Australia. I’m thankful for my family.

What do you pray for in Australia? 
I pray for reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-indigenous people.

I pray that my boys don’t experience what I have experienced in terms of racism. I pray that things will be better in the future.

I pray that they put the aboriginal flag on top of parliament house. And I pray they change the date so Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can celebrate with the rest of the nation.


L-R: Anh Tran, Brianna Woodhead, Francillia Gomes and Fiona Pelosi

Anh Tran, parishioner St Christopher’s Cathedral, Forrest. 
What are you grateful for in Australia?
I attended the Night of the Witnesses at the Cathedral last year in November and realised how easy it is to practice our faith in Australia. I take for granted that I can freely go to mass every day and not think twice about whether I will make it back home. I’m most grateful for the religious freedom we have here in Australia.

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What do you pray for in Australia? 
I have a huge heart for youth and young people in our country and am daily confronted and challenged by their hunger for truth and justice and a place (people) to call home. My prayer for Australia would be that we would be a country that welcomes and accommodates everyone and that we would be a society in pursuit of truth and justice rooted in knowing and loving Christ.

Francilia Gomes, parishioner St Christopher’s Cathedral, Forrest. 
What are you grateful for in Australia? 
I am grateful that we can safely practice our faith here and for Australia’s incredible access to natural beauty and wonder.

What do you pray for in Australia? 
I am praying for an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so we are all inspired and called to action in specific ways that address our challenges in this time and place.

Brianna Woodhead, parishioner St Christopher’s Cathedral, Forrest. 
What are you grateful for in Australia? 
The sense of community and strength in the face of hardship

What do you pray for in Australia? 
Unity and for decisions to be based on what is right rather than what is popular.


Pradeep Sornaraj, parishioner Holy Spirit Catholic Parish, Amaroo 
What are you grateful for in Australia?
Australia is one of the greatest countries in the world, with values based on freedom, respect, fairness and equality of opportunity.

I am grateful for the opportunities and the sense of belonging Australians have given my family and me over the years. I am also thankful for being part of an amazing community that supports and cares for one another despite many differences.

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What do you pray for in Australia? 
The world is becoming a complex place to navigate for our children with war, extremism and radical ideologies. I have always been praying to Our Father to guide the younger generations to walk the path of love, knowledge and respect.

Given it is Australia day, I also pray for a stronger voice for the indigenous Australians and to close the gap.


Shirley Topp, parishioner Mary Help of Christians Parish, South Woden 
What are you grateful for in Australia?
I’m grateful for the freedom, the environment and the people. Mostly the freedom we have in Australia.

What do you pray for in Australia? 
Mainly peace with the Indigenous community and coming to terms with all of that. 


Anne Kaushal, parishioner Mary Help of Christians Parish, South Woden 

What are you grateful for in Australia?
Australia has allowed me to be who I am and accept my culture and everything I bring from India.

What do you pray for in Australia? 
I pray for peace and happiness and I pray for the fact that we should look after the animals that make Australia so unique in everything that it is.


Mike Washington, parishioner St Thomas More Parish, Campbell ACT
What are you grateful for in Australia?
I love that, deep down, we are a diverse, caring people living in a truly beautiful land with great opportunities for all people to fulfil their aspirations and dreams.

What do you pray for in Australia? 
I praise God for creating this beautiful world and the Southern Cross that shines in the skies over this land of Australia. Give us strength to walk together in courage, tolerance, and respect for each other now and into the future.

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Stephen and Charmaine Mathias, parishioners St Anthony’s Parish, Wanniassa
What are you grateful for in Australia?
We were born and grew up in India and moved to Australia 30 years ago. Although India was/is culturally diverse, living in Australia has enriched our lives through its vast cultural and ethnic diversity, where we interacted with and shared experiences with people from different parts of the world.  

We are grateful for this opportunity and the quality of life that living in Australia has provided our family.

What do you pray for in Australia? 
As part of the catholic community, we have observed a decline in the participation of the younger generation in all church activities and matters of faith.

We pray for more of today’s youth to take an active role in keeping the faith alive and progress in their faith journey in these challenging times.

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