Archived News Item

Bathurst sister reports on national indigenous gathering

“Dreaming from the Heart”, the recent NATSICC Assembly held in Alice Springs, was attended by a number of Mercy sisters. Among the group was Bathurst Sister of Mercy, Pat Linnane RSM


I would like to share a few brief thoughts with you even though Grapevine is going to print today and the reality of moving from the heat of 40 degrees to Bathurst chill this morning may not do justice to the experience, but I will try! I think it is necessary to share something with you given that the congregation enabled seven of us, including two Aboriginal women, to be part of the NATSIC assembly.


I guess there are so many things to share but I will concentrate on some that I personally will need to process as I return to live here, and I would imagine a similar situation will confront the others as well.


“Dreaming from the Heart” was truly national in every aspect. At all gatherings bishops, priests and many religious, together with wonderful lay men and women, were invited into the celebration of ritual led by Aboriginal people themselves. We were the silent majority but so graciously welcomed by people who had obviously been given the opportunity to “˜own’ their celebration of culture and spirituality.


Time was not a premium in any situation. Eucharistic liturgies offered a “˜communal’ aspect of participation that was just so sacred – we were invited to receive a blessing from Aboriginal elders both at Reconciliation and healing Masses that became for us not so much “Dreaming from the Heart”, but rather “The Heart of the Dreaming”.


The Message Sticks were a great medium to arouse a sense of possibility for involvement in an issue initiated by John Paul II twenty years ago, and currently the focus of this year’s Social Justice Statement, which challenges each of us.


Some of us met with Karon Donnellon RSM from the Institute Leadership Team and this too was Mercy Australia, each acknowledging the contemplative aspect of this desert experience. No simple answers but a real call to stand in solidarity with a people who do not read “Dadirri” but know it in their whole being as well as their tradition.


In the words of John Paul II, “What can now be done to remedy the deeds of yesterday, must not be put off until tomorrow.”


My gratitude for this opportunity.


Pat Linnane RSM


Note: “Dadirri is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness.” Mirriam-Rose Ungunmerr


The 2006 Social Justice Sunday Statement: The Heart of Our Country Dignity and Justice for our Indigenous Sisters and Brothers is available here.


Make Indigenous Poverty History

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission has produced an ecumenical resource, a CD-Rom: “Make Indigenous Poverty History”. It includes liturgical resources, information sheets, audiovisual material and suggestions for action concerning the impact of poverty on Indigenous communities. It outlines the Millennium Development Goals and links them to the plight of Indigenous Australians. Download the order form here.


The focus of the Goals is alleviation of poverty for the poorest of the poor and for those in least developed countries. Despite the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in a host of poverty statistics, the MDGs do not specifically address Indigenous issues and they do not specifically target Australia because it is a “˜developed’ country. But despite Australia‘s wealth, many Indigenous people suffer poor standards of health and wellbeing similar to the world’s poorest people, including those in least developed countries. Further information:


From: Specific Issues Committee, Indigenous Concerns (Sisters Rose Glennen, Kay O’Neill, Liz Rothe)


Contact: Carmel Heagerty RSM, Institute Justice Co-ordinator