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Gen 2:9 -
Issue 7, November 2006, Highlights:
Title: To Venture in the Spirit
Gatherings such as the one held recently in Alice Springs are great community builders. Six hundred people from all over Australia were in Alice for six days of celebration remembering the words of Pope John Paul II spoken to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in 1986. That historic speech has lived on in the hearts of indigenous and non-indigenous Australians alike because of its prophetic and inspiring content. A question for all of us to ask is whether or not reconciliation in our land has advanced significantly during the last twenty years or not? And again, what can we do to see to it that indigenous people take their rightful place in the Church in Australia?
Engaging people in conversations arising from such questions is not always easy but it is a lot easier and certainly authentic if we ask the questions of ourselves first. How have I contributed to reconciliation in our land and what can I do to confirm the rightful place of indigenous people in our communion of faith in Australia?
This point became abundantly clear during the keynote address in Alice Springs given by Mark Bin Bakar of Broome. Mark, better known by his stage name, Mary Gedarrdyu , made the point abundantly clear that good actions and just actions begin with ourselves in possession of good hearts and just attitudes.
Just the same, it has to be noted that we still have a long way to go before the challenging comments of the Holy Father are met with evident conviction. This is not to deny the advances and ready gains that have been achieved in Catholic Aboriginal Australia. Credit has to be given for the work of Aboriginal Deacons, the devout activity of many who work in Aboriginal Catholic Ministries and the work in progress by indigenous leaders in the field of Catholic education - itself an essential element of the Church’s work of evangelisation. We pray for this positive work in progress.
Arising from the Conference in Alice Springs has been a deep commitment to World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney. Erica Bernard of Broome has been appointed to head the Kimberley World Youth Day 2008 Ministry. She intends to animate interest in the event Kimberley wide. Part of her objective will be to gather a significant number of young pilgrims intending to go to the event and then form them so that they are prepared not only for the event but for a Catholic life of faith beyond 2008. Such an injection of enthusiasm into the faith community will have wonderful dividends if all of us support and work for the fulfilment of the objectives that World Youth Day strives for. The youth are part of our future hope for just and faith-filled living for our nation.
The ability of people to be formed by gatherings such as the one in Alice Springs should not be underestimated. Parishes seeking Life in Christ, indeed life to the full, need to invest effort in supporting such ventures to the best of their ability. World Youth Day 2008 is one such venture that calls us now to be renewed through prayer and formation. The young cannot do it alone and neither can any other group. Effective preparation will be led by the Holy Spirit using our energy and dedication for the task at hand. It is a time of care-full prayer-filled imagination.