A reading of the Uluru Statement from the Heart by student representatives from Catholic schools and colleges provided a powerful reflection at this year’s Catholic Education NAIDOC Mass celebrations held in Mackay and Rockhampton early Term 3.
Congregations of close to 1000 Catholic Education students and staff, together with indigenous elders and community members, and parish representatives were present at each of the Masses to hear the historic Statement which originated at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention seeking a ‘First Nation’s Voice enshrined in the Constitution’.
Catholic Education Indigenous Education Coordinator Bradley Jarro said the Mass provided a wonderful opportunity for Catholic schools in the region to come together and celebrate NAIDOC.
“NAIDOC Week is a highlight on the calendar for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nation-wide. More and more non-Indigenous Australians are also celebrating the week each year, either as individuals, schools, workplaces or sport and community groups,” Mr Jarro said.
“Our Catholic schools individually hold their own celebrations, but the Mass is unique, as it brings together representatives from the Catholic Education Office, Catholic schools and local parishes in our Rockhampton and Northern regions in celebration. Local Elders and members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community attend, and it is great to have them connected to, and supporting our schools also,” he said.
Most Rev Michael McCarthy DD, Catholic Bishop of Rockhampton presided at the Rockhampton Mass held at Holy Family Church. Bishop Michael based his homily on his recent meeting with Pope Francis in Rome where the Pontiff extended his personal greeting to the indigenous youth in the Diocese of Rockhampton.
With permission from their elders, Year 10 students from Rockhampton’s The Cathedral College Seini Tonga and Yagany Cox-Hatfield offered the Welcome to Country in indigenous language which was also translated to English.
Celebrations also included the announcement of this year’s Catholic Education Indigenous Scholarship recipients, Brodie Wilson from Marist College Emerald and Alexis Ahmann from The Cathedral College, Rockhampton.