Wednesday, July 10, 2013

NAIDOC Mass Brisbane 2013

Marshall Bell
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday will be celebrated at the Cathedral of St Stephen, Elizabeth Street Brisbane on Sunday July 14 at 12,00 noon.

The Mass which is part of the usual Cathedral schedule will feature texts and elements of Indigenous Culture. Elders and guests from local communities will join regular worshipers for this special celebration.

It is regrettable that this particular event does not get a mention in the official Archdiocesan calendar. It was only featured among the usual notices in the Cathedral bulletin the week of July 7. There was more prominence given to a Bach Concert. This indicates to me that we have much work to do if in the words of Pope John Paul to Aboriginal People in Alice Springs in 1986: " 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.”

July 14 also marks the end of NAIDOC Week 2013.

This year's letter from the Bishops Commission for Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders should be essential reading  by every Catholic and person of goodwill  

The Bishops set the context for our relations with the First  People of Australia in  the choice that makes an option for the poor as demonstrated by the words of deeds of Pope Francis. The two quotes which are highlighted in the letter should be printed out and posted on every  Church notice bulletin:

Indigenous youth self-harm and suicide rates continue to cast a pall over people’s lives. The tragedy of suicide leaves a host of unanswerable questions in the minds of grieving families and sorrowing friends.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples not only have a rightful place in Australian society but they have a uniquely important contribution to make that will enrich our lives, our nation and our Church.

The Bishops acknowledge the history of relations between Christianity and Aboriginal people has "not always been good news".  A recent article in Eureka Street by Mike Bowden is headlined: Catholic Church's Toll on Aboriginal Australia. The comments on this story point to untold joys and hope, grief and anguish of this history.
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