Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - "Thousands of citizens celebrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday in parishes throughout Australia. From the chaos of the big cities to the tranquility of the most remote communities, Catholics and natives sat side by side as a sign of unity". This is what the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), the Council of Australian Catholics representing the native populations reported to Agenzia Fides, regarding the day dedicated to them, celebrated throughout the nation on 7 July.
The various local Catholic communities, explain the representatives of the Council, actively participated in various initiatives: "in Adelaide, the president of NATSICC, John Lochowiak, welcomed a representation of the Kaurna people in the Cathedral and led the smoking ceremony, a typical Australian Aboriginal ritual, to first purify and then begin mass. In La Perouse, the Jesuit priest and longtime friend of the First nations, Father Frank Brennan, dedicated a special mass to the event in the Church of Reconciliation, which was born precisely to bring together people of Aboriginal culture in the Catholic Church, through liturgy and formation. The Jesuit presented the Elder Elsie Heiss, to whom this year was awarded the "NATSICC Service to Community Award", an award given to her for her ongoing commitment to the Church and her people".
Celebrated in early July, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday represents a fixed appointment in the Australian Church's calendar. This year, in their message in preparation for the day, the Bishops asked to pay particular attention to the problem of suicides among the members of these populations, a widespread phenomenon especially among the young: "This reality is sad and unacceptable. For us Christians, Jesus came to bring full life. He is calling us to work together with love and respect and to seek a solution to this tragic problem", the Bishops' Conference wrote. (LF) (Agenzia Fides, 15/7/2019)