By Ali Biddiscombe
Perth Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton has last weekend called on Perth Catholics to engage in looking forward and contributing to the hoped-for new beginning in reconciliation and collaboration with our First Nations brothers and sisters.
In his homily at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander [Commission] Sunday Mass, on 15 October at St Mary’s Cathedral, Bishop Sproxton said it was providential that the Mass and gathering was held on the day following the referendum.
“This will be the first day of prayer and reflection on the outcome of the referendum, so our hope is that this Mass will be the most significant prayer for all our people and the great sign that Jesus walks with us into a new beginning that is opening up for Aboriginal and Torres Strait people and every other Australian in our land,” he said.
Bishop Sproxton continued by saying that in light of the vote [the Voice Referendum] the Australian Bishops have committed themselves to looking forward and contributing to the hoped-for new beginning in reconciliation and collaboration with our First Nations brothers and sisters.
“The Gospel of today’s Mass has something to say to us at this moment of history.
“Jesus spoke of the call to work with him to bring about change so that the kingdom of God can be seen more clearly as it breaks into and transforms the world to be more just and committed to peace.
“We need to support the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in advising and working with the agencies set up to advance the goals of Closing the Gap.
“The way forward and the new beginning is to be found in building relationships and trust. This will be the way of Christ to build the kingdom of justice, peace and reconciliation.”
Director of Aboriginal Catholic Ministry for the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth Donella Brown said the annual Mass was a collaborative preparation between the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry and the Centre for Liturgy and a sharing of gifts.
She said the Smoking Ceremony, led by Aboriginal Elder Kevin Fitzgerald, was a chance to share story and is symbolic of cleansing the spirit, removing bad spirits and energy from places where we meet.
“It is the opportunity to hear stories of the land we are being welcomed to.
Ms Brown said the annual diocesan Mass was an opportunity to celebrate the many gifts of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community.
“The gift of hospitality was honored in the sharing of a special celebration using the Missa Terra Spiritus Sancti Mass of the land of the Holy Spirit. This mass originated from the Bidyadanga community in the Broome Diocese.
“We shared the gift of didgeridoo music which was provided by two young Aboriginal men Thairon and Brandon Jansen who accompanied Sister Margaret Scharf and Sr Frances Magure in leading the congregation in singing the parts of the Mass.
“We also welcomed the participation of Clontarf Aboriginal College who brought up the Gifts of Holy Communion during the Mass.”
Ms Brown said the mass was also an opportunity to offer the gift of presence and visibility and to raise the profile of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Peoples in congregations.
“It was a joyful and uplifting celebration and helped to take away the disappointment of Australia’s rejection of the “Voice to Parliament” she said.