Catholic Faith and Aboriginal Spirituality explored in Dubbo

Despite the gloomy weather predicted, 70 people travelled to Dubbo on Saturday 11th July 2015 for the Diocesan Assembly Council's 'Aboriginal Spirituality meets Catholic Faith' day.

The day was part of the Council's initiatives, which this year will be exploring the six themes that were identified at our Diocesan Assembly in 2012 as requiring particular attention: Hearing and Proclaiming the Word of God; Worshipping God in Prayer and Sacrament; Building a Community of Love and Service and the participation of Indigenous Catholics, young people and families in our local church.

Held at St. Laurence's School Hall, the day aimed to educate and promote understanding of how Indigenous Catholics marry their faith and their Aboriginal spirituality and culture and to explore how our parishes might become places where Indigenous Catholics feel welcome and valued.

Eleven parishes were represented and Bishop McKenna was pleased to be able to attend for the entire day.

We were very blessed to have Wiradjuri Elder, Aunty Elsie Heiss, come from Sydney. Aunty Elsie was co-presenter of the day with Anne Dennis, a Gamilaraay woman from Walgett who came to our Diocese to pass on some of their tremendous faith, knowledge and wisdom. Both these women have a deep faith in the Catholic tradition and meld that successfully in their lives with their deep sense of Indigenous culture and spirituality. Helen Cooney, Principal of St. Joseph's Catholic School in Walgett, travelled with Anne to support and assist her.

Participants listened with admiration to the stories of the journey of Aunty Elsie and Anne, who work tirelessly for their faith and their people. Uncle Rod Towney did the Welcome to Country and spoke a little of his own journey, as did the Diocese's Aboriginal Education Officer, Darlene Murdoch.

There was time for prayer, questions and lots of discussion - and a wonderful atmosphere in the room. People were eager to learn and take back to their own communities some ideas that might promote the participation of Indigenous Catholics in our local church. The day was hailed a success by all accounts, with people calling for more similar opportunities to learn and grow in understanding of the Indigenous Catholics in our community.

More information about the day will be available shortly and once the ideas and evaluations from the day are collated, a summary will be sent out to parishes in the hope that it might provide some inspiration for action.

Photos from the day are available HERE.

Fiona Lewis

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