Archived News Item

Sydney Aboriginal elder guest of Mercy associates

Sydney Aboriginal elder, Mrs Ali Goulding, was a guest of the Wilcannia-Forbes Mercy Associates group at their February meeting in Caringbah (Sydney). This group of associates, who call themselves the “Circle of Mercy Associates of Caringbah”, gathers regularly for a shared meal and conversation to stimulate their own outreach in compassion and mercy.

Mrs Ali Goulding, an Aboriginal elder from Sydney, was a guest of the Wilcannia Forbes Mercy Associates group at their February meeting in Caringbah (NSW). In good Mercy tradition, the “Circle of Mercy” (as the group is called) began with two members in 1998 when Sister Mary Therese Mutlow invited some friends to share something of the Mercy vision and spirit.


Now numbering over forty, the group gathers each alternate month for a shared meal and conversation to stimulate their own outreach in compassion and mercy.


Over the past eight years, various Mercy sisters have been among the guests who have shared a particular focus of Mercy. At the February gathering, Sister Daphne McKeough spoke briefly about the work of the NSW Mercy Aboriginal Partnership Project, and in particular, the coming together of NSW Mercies and Aboriginal people to pass on the Message Stick, a ritual that drew attention to the challenge of Pope John Paul – of deepening respect and understanding for Aboriginal people, their culture and the struggles they face. In introducing Ali, Daphne spoke of the gift of such opportunities to meet and talk with Aboriginal people.


Ali has been a guest of a number of Mercy groups. A Biripi woman from the NSW North Coast, she shared the story of her childhood on the mission there, facing the racism that was the lot of Aboriginal children at school. She told of her escape from the hands of the Welfare, who had come to remove her and her sister from the family at her mother’s funeral, and of her days as an itinerant picker.


In her adult life, Ali married and settled in Redfern, raising her family on the Block. She spoke of her search to find a place for her spirit, where her Aboriginal culture and the religion she heard presented in many different churches might connect.


Something of this “˜meeting of spirits’ happened for her when she had the chance to attend the Aboriginal theology centre, Nungalinya, in Darwin. Amongst Aboriginal people and staff, she found respect and understanding, and harmony with the Christian message.


Since receiving her certificate from the college, she is continuing her faith journey to carry forward this message. She uses her gifts as an artist to share the message.


Photo: Ali (pictured left) at the launch of the Message Stick, La Perouse, May 2006.


From: Sister Nance Cale RSM (Local Communications Facilitator, Wilcannia-Forbes)