NAIDOC Week 2018

NAIDOC Week 2018 celebrates the invaluable contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made – and continue to make to our communities, our Church, our families, our history and to our nation.

We Josephites owe an enormous debt of gratitude and thanks to many Aboriginal women. Women like Marjorie Hunter, Kimberley mother and grandmother, who has been good friend, mentor and cultural teacher of so many sisters.

The incredible women who staff, run and support the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry (ACM) and Aboriginal Corporations like Baabayn, these women provide a home and the means for First Nations Catholics to express and address their spiritual needs. As Ravina reminds us:

Together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Church leaders they bring about a greater understanding and respect for Aboriginal culture and beliefs within all churches and enable the Aboriginal voice to be heard within the church. Ravina Waldren

Through and with them we are able to respond positively to the call of last year’s Uluru Statement: From the Heart: “In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard.”

As Elsie Heiss explains:

Communication is the key… it creates strength and empowers  our people collectively as well as individually. Elsie Heiss

We celebrate and give thanks for Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Bauman author of ”Dadirri” and Betty Pike a Minang woman and writer whose words communicate guide and inspire.

Because of her, we can!

These women have offered Josephites the hand of friendship and the privilege of experiencing the richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, family life and spirituality. They have provided us with a way – and companionship on that way – to work toward Reconciliation and right relationship. They have helped us to know and acknowledge the historical injustices and disadvantage that the Aboriginal peoples have suffered since colonisation and our part in that. They have accepted our apology our “sorry” and our efforts to bring about healing and justice. Despite the ups and downs of our relationship, they continue to hang in as together we try to build a shared future of hope towards self-determination for Aboriginal peoples and the healing and reconciliation of our nation.

Because of her, we can!

Strong and passionate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have fought and continue to fight, for justice, rights to country and for access to education and employment. We celebrate and give thanks for Vicki Clark who was instrumental in establishing the Opening the Doors Foundation which addresses the severe educational disadvantage experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

Alitya Rigney was the first Aboriginal woman school Principal in Australia. During her thirteen years of leadership at the Kaurna Plains Aboriginal School, the Kaurna language became a key foundational aspect of students strengthening cultural identity. Alitya became the Chair and cultural mentor of the Josephite SA Reconciliation Circle and actively led them in working for justice for thirteen years.

Because of her, we can!

In conclusion then let’s celebrate and reverence these women by continuing to listen, learn and partner with them.

Marianne Zeinstra rsj

Poster image: Obtained from NAIDOC website. Used with permission.

An Acknowledgement and Thanks from the Sisters of Saint Joseph