Reconciliation Mass for Healing and Justice

 

If you would like to watch the Mass, you can find the live-stream recording on the Diocesan YouTube Channel. 
 
Michael Chisholm, Senior Aboriginal Education Officer: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education at Catholic Education Sandhurst spoke at the Mass. His Reflection is shared below: 
 
Reflection by Michael Chisholm
 
Be Brave. Make Change
Get up. Stand up. Show up. 
Tell the Good News.
 
Each year during Reconciliation Week, Australians are asked to reflect on the role they play in moving towards a reconciled future, and the part every Australian plays in building relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, cultures, and futures.
In 2022, the theme for National Reconciliation Week is “Be Brave. Make Change.” 
The theme is a challenge to all Australians──individuals, families, communities, organisations and government ──to be brave and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can make change for the benefit of all Australians.
 
During Reconciliation Week, educators and leaders may explore First Nations histories, cultures and achievements, and involve children in explorations of how each of us as citizens can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
 
What is the main purpose of Reconciliation in Australia?  To inspire and build relationships, respect and trust between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.  Reconciliation is about strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, for the benefit of all Australians.
 
For Australia to move forward on its reconciliation journey, we ask for you to forge genuine partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to support their voice and truth telling initiatives at a local, regional and national level.
 
 
Our Nation has been brave in the past; on 27 of May 1967, Australians as a Nation voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to ensure that the First Nations people would be counted as part of the population and thus giving citizenship to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  
 
As a Nation we are called now to take the next step.  Five years ago the Uluru Statement of the Heart invited all Australians to walk together towards a better future.  And just as in 1967,  a successful outcome will require collaboration, hard work and courage.  As History called for us as a Nation in 1967 to be counted, now  we seek to be heard. With a referendum on a Voice to Parliament, we have an historic opportunity to move from the safety of words to the bravery of Action!
 
I call us all as Australians to be part of a movement to build a better future for all First Nations Australians.
 
The good news is that the Gospel speaks all languages. This is good news for Aboriginal education.
 
Responding to the Holy Father’s challenge in 1986: 
‘And 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’. 
 
We honour the Pope’s message when he said …’ Jesus calls you to accept his words and his values into your own culture. To develop in this way will make you more than ever truly Aboriginal’…. The Church invites you to express the living word of Jesus in ways that speak to your Aboriginal minds and hearts. All over the world people worship God and read his Word in their own language and colour the great signs and symbols of religion with touches of their own traditions. Why should you be different from them in this regard’…?
 
‘For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who look to seek out their Catholic Faith also seek ways that speak and share stories of their own cultures.’
 
We have a proud history of getting up, standing up, and showing up.
 
From the frontier wars and our earliest resistance fighters to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities fighting for change today—we continue to show up. Now is our time. We cannot afford to lose momentum for change.  We all must continue to Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! for systemic change and keep rallying around our mob, our Elders, our communities.  Whether it’s seeking proper environmental, cultural and heritage protections, Constitutional change, a comprehensive process of truth-telling, working towards treaties, or calling out racism—we must do it together.  It must be a genuine commitment by all of us to Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! and support and secure institutional, structural, collaborative, and cooperative reforms.
 
It’s also time to celebrate the many who have driven and led change in our communities over generations—they have been the heroes and champions of change, of equal rights and even basic human rights.
 
Getting Up, Standing Up, and Showing Up can take many forms.  We need to move beyond just acknowledgement, good intentions, empty words and promises, and hollow commitments. Enough is enough.
 
The relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non Indigenous Australians needs to be based on justice, equity, and the proper recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights.
 
Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! with us to amplify our voices and narrow the gap between aspiration and reality, good intent and outcome.
 
Tell the good news!
We need to understand our two stories – our story and the Aboriginal story because they connect, especially in the Catholic setting –there are so many connections, many intersecting lines with our Catholic Faith and Aboriginal Spirituality. 
 
We are invited to become a people of reconciliation and so we are called to seek, know and love the wisdom that arises from Aboriginal Spirituality & our Catholic Faith Tradition. 
 
We are also responding to the mandate of Vatican II, which said that the church has ‘always had the duty of scrutinising the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the gospel’.
 
In conclusion, as educators the success of Catholic education is linked inseparably to the witness of faith given by members of the community who truly live their faith. Change can only happen when we make a personal commitment.
So, to help us all in our Journeys for Reconciliation we ask that you:
 
1. Get Honest with Yourself.
To achieve Honesty, we must be vulnerable and willing to heal our wounds; we must step into our pain and face challenges head on.
 
2. Write Down Your Pledge.
We must make a promise to be true to what we believe in, as God made a covenant with Abraham. It was God’s promise that he offered protection and honoured the sacredness of land to Abraham and his descendants and, in return, Abraham and his descendants were to follow the path of God. 
 
3. Tell the Good news.
Sharing our stories ─ Reconciliation involves developing our understanding of how these histories continue to shape contemporary Australian society and ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures are treated with dignity and respect at all times. Reconciliation is often best understood as a journey. We – as individuals, schools, organisations and as wider communities – can take important steps towards reconciliation every day.
 
4. Commit to Kindness.
As a wise colleague of mine continues to say, you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.  As simple as this message is, it lies at the heart of committing to kindness.  
Are you willing to fill your heart with kindness to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.   
There is also simplicity in kindness.  This simplicity comes in the form of the Golden Rule, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” (Matthew 7:12).
 
5. Do Something, even if it is small.
Little Hinges Swing Big Doors
If we want to see and advance change, we need to start with ourselves and each other.  Ask yourself, “Am I the little hinge that swings the big doors that you seek to open for a better world?”
 
Here is a short list of people who have been the little hinges that have swung open big doors.
Mum Shirl
Deborah Mailman
Adam Goodes
Uncle William Cooper 
Eddie Mabo
Louisa Briggs
Tarneen Onus Williams
David Uniapon
Cathy Freeman
Archie Roach 
Eddie Kneebone
Uncle Wally Cooper