Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday

Our Elders paved the pathways for us, taught us our knowledge, our history, they passed down their art, stories and wisdom - Photo:canva.comOur Elders paved the pathways for us, taught us our knowledge, our history, they passed down their art, stories and wisdom - Photo:canva.com

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday takes place on July 2nd 2023. This year marks the fiftieth Anniversary of First National Aboriginal Liturgy in Australia.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday is a special day for Catholics across Australia to acknowledge and celebrate the gifts, faith and culture of First Nations Peoples. There are more than 133, 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics from diverse communities across Australia, and First Nations Catholics are proudly the youngest and fastest growing demographic in the Australian Church. 

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) is the peak advisory body to the Australian Church on issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics. NATSICC invites Catholic communities to commemorate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday in a spirit of “hope and promise for a brighter future, rooted in unity and shared commitment to positive change.” As the country move towards a Referendum on the Voice to Parliament we listen openly to Australia’s First Nations Peoples and their calls for justice and rightful recognition. NATSICC have prepared accessible resources to help groups engage and support respectful and honest conversations about the Voice.

Following decades of activism and a long process of engagement, the historic Uluru Statement from the Heart was launched in May 2017, inviting the Australian people to join in a movement towards key reforms for a better future. The Referendum is due to take place later in 2023, and a successful outcome depends on majority support across the country and within states. The Voice will be able to advise Parliament and the Government on matters directly affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Megan Davis, Uluru Dialogue co-chair says, “it’s a modest reform that will help change the daily lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and acknowledge our place as the First Nations of this country” (Koori News June 28, 2023). 

The Catholic celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday continues on into NAIDOC Week (July 2nd – 9th). NAIDOC Week is a favourite week in the calendar where community get together. NAIDOC Week 2023 focuses on the theme For Our Elders. Bobbi Lockyer, a Ngarluma, Kariyarra, Nyulnyul and Yawuru woman from Western Australia is the winner of this years NAIDOC Week poster competition. Bobbi powerfully says, “all Elders are integral to our lives.” Through her beautiful artwork, Bobbi tells stories about her culture. She says, “Where there is knowledge there are our Elders. Our Elders paved the pathways for us, taught us our knowledge, our history, they passed down their art, stories and wisdom. Our Elders are the foundation of our communities and role models for our children.” All Australians are invited to join community events to celebrate the world’s oldest living, culture alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples all year around, and especially during NAIDOC Week. 

Voice Prayer

Dear Lord,

We invite all Australians to join us, their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Brothers and Sisters in prayer.

We pray for a bright and just shared future for all who call Australia home. We ask that Your grace of acceptance and compassion will guide us.

Let the Creator Spirit lead our journey with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of this land. May we share Your Spirit more deeply & celebrate the gifts You have given us.

Help us appreciate true harmony and peace just as our Old People did; Keep us strong, make us resilient and remember us in this time.

Now is an opportunity to change our Nation’s history for the better. Walk with us as we write a new chapter together and may we be one in Your love.

Amen.

(Prayer prepared by National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council)

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