Mercy Membership Conference
“Thousands of Years of Footsteps” was the theme for the annual conference of new members from the Australian Institute and from Aotearoa New Zealand when they gathered in Sydney from 19th to 24th April. Karon Donnellon from the Institute Leadership Team and Daphne McKeough the NSW Mercy Aboriginal Partnership Animator acted as facilitator for the gathering. Eighteen women from various parts of Australia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Aotearoa New Zealand together with those accompanying them during their initial formation to learn something of the story of indigenous Australians – land and culture and the impact of past injustices.
Guest speakers included Ali Golding who welcomed them to the land and prominent Aboriginal women Kay Mundine and Linda Burney who shared something of their story with the group and their journey to justice. On the third day of the conference the group visited Aboriginal sites in the Blue Mountains accompanied by Aboriginal guide, Chris Tobin and archaeologist Fr Eugene Stockton who explained the cultural practices and stories belonging to the sites. In the evening they were welcomed by members of the Mt Druitt Aboriginal Community at the Holy Family Centre and over the evening meal many personal stories were shared. One of the highlights of the days was the time of prayer in the Botanical Gardens with member of the Mt Druitt community, which included a smoking ceremony and all together making a pledge of reconciliation.
We pledge ourselves,
indigenous and non-indigenous Australians
to work together to celebrate our different culture
and to go forward together
to create an Australian society
that respects this land of ours
values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture
and promotes justice and equity for all.
The sharing of stories helped the participant to gain insights into Aboriginal life and culture and to deepen their respect for and understanding of Aboriginal spirituality.
The fifth day of the conference was named as the Institute Day and Nerida Tinkler, Institute President and Caroline Ryan, Vice President joined the group for the day leading those present in a process connecting with the Vision that was articulated during the Institute Chapter and mandate for the Institute for the next six years. The final day was a more reflective day with time for integrating the experiences and learnings of the conference, concluding with a ritual lead by the sisters from Aotearoa New Zealand.
Messages to Barbara Broad rsm