Indigenous and non-Indigenous speakers, theologians and Elders came together at the second NATSICC Faith and Spirituality gathering sharing a 'yarn', and attending workshops and cultural presentations.
Held on Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) over 3-6 April 2017, delegates were asked to place themselves in the presence of God, explore faith and further develop a relationship with Jesus.
Presentations by QLD NATSICC Councillor Evelyn Parkin, ACU Fellow Joan Hendriks, Bishop Columba Macbeth – Green, Bishop Joseph Oudeman and Fr. Tom Gleeson (the barefoot Priest) focused on culture, faith, scripture and prayer. Delegates also workshopped ideas such as, 'Meeting Christ in Faith and Culture', 'What is faith?' and 'Unpacking Scripture'.
The local community – the Quandamooka people - were deeply involved in the gathering. Having lived on Minjerribah for more than 25,000 years, their traditional homelands provided the backdrop for scripture and Catholic teaching with parallel meaning.
Delegates attended mass celebrated by Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green in the local parish and, experienced the tranquility of the traditional birthing area of Lake Bumerria (Brown Lake) after a full day pilgrimage encompassing the entire Island.
Reflecting on the conference, NATSICC Chairperson John Lochowiak said that Point Lookout, the final destination of the pilgrimage, "perfectly displayed the majesty of God's creation – towering cliffs and seemingly endless shorelines".
A unanimous highlight amongst participants was the mass upon the shores of Dunwich.
"Celebrated by Bishop Joseph Oudeman, the group settled in front of traditional sand artwork created by a local artist. The swirling and intricate artwork depicted the 3 language groups on the Island and, explained the artist, has strong links to the Catholic tradition of the Trinity. The synergy of the two concepts was echoed in the Mass where the wind and spirit swirled amongst the congregation as the Eucharist was shared", he said.
On the gathering itself, John said its success showed how promising NATSICC's future was.
"Delegates headed home with a renewed sense of faith and community. The gathering is developing a strong following and becoming a fixture on the calendars of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educators, ministry workers and those working in Ministry with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people," John said.
CCI was pleased to provide financial support as a Gathering Partner of the 2017 NATSICC Formation Gathering.
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